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Columnist: Randy Carlyle should rip Phil Kessel for bad defense

Mar 7, 2012, 9:27 AM EDT

Tyler Bozak; Phil Kesse

While the Leafs lost a hard, physical game to the Bruins last night, there are some who feel that the scapegoat for their failings last night in the eyes of new Toronto coach Randy Carlyle will be easy to pick out.

Toronto Sun columnist Steve Buffery says that Phil Kessel is the guy who should be read the riot act from Carlyle about playing solid two-way hockey thanks to picking up a goal, an assist, and a minus-two rating on the night. After seeing Zdeno Chara stickhandle around Kessel, Carlyle wasn’t all that impressed and Buffery took his words as damning praise.

“His work ethic was strong,” said Carlyle. “But on the other side they can’t continually give up quality scoring chances. It was like a momentum swing for the one shift that they got scored on twice. And those are the things that we again have to correct as a group. But I thought (Kessel) was a dynamic individual in the other areas of the game. Every time he had the puck on the power play … he controlled the puck down the side and made things happen.”

That doesn’t sound like a coach who was driven nuts by weak defensive play, but Kessel isn’t a guy that’s going to be out there to lock down opponents anyway.

Yes, they’ll want Kessel to show a bit more effort there but doing so at the expense of the offense he’s supposed to bring would be counterproductive. Besides, if you can find me the person that will be able to body up on Zdeno Chara in the NHL, I’d like to meet them.

  1. itsallniceonice - Mar 7, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Ben Bishop could body up on Chara.

  2. bcisleman - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Kessel has been with the Leafs 3 seasons now and they are just figuring out that he is a soft, one dimensional player who probably cannot even spell the word “defense”? Why do you think Chiarelli traded him?

    A smaller player is going to have a tough time against players like Chara and Lucic. That’s why Chiarelli has them on the roster instead of Kessel. But a smaller player can stand up to them and play with grit and determination as PA Parenteau did on Saturday. A player has to have a lot of internal fortitude to do this and PA has that in abundance. Kind of late in the day for the Toronto media to realize that Kessel doesn’t.

  3. hockeyflow33 - Mar 7, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    His one dimension is scoring…that’s not really a downside. How many great goal scorers play two way hockey?

  4. mgp1219 - Mar 7, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    His attitude in the locker room was no better than his defensive play on the ice, which are the 2 main reasons he no longer plays for Boston. Thanks Phil, because without your petulant attitude rthe Bruins would not have Tyler Seguin.

    • danphipps01 - Mar 7, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      Funny that you drop Seguin’s name in such a way as to suggest he ISN’T petulant. He’s been scratched multiple times for missing practice, and more than that, the last time he lied about why. Not that Kessel didn’t have maturity issues in Boston – he really did – but acting like Seguin’s a picture of maturity is just ridiculous denial of the facts.

  5. danphipps01 - Mar 7, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Man, nobody complains about Malkin’s abysmal own-zone play, and he’s huge. He could match up with a Lucic or a Kassian or a Lecavalier defensively and he just… kind of doesn’t. No complaints about him, though. Why light Kessel up and overlook people with even less reason to slack off on the defense?

    • rdurk86 - Mar 7, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Because Toronto sucks and Pitt is actually decent.

  6. crusty14 - Mar 7, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Seguin has been benched for missing practice once, not multiple times. It happened in Winnipeg earlier this season.

  7. ajsjr40 - Mar 7, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    And don’t forget Dougie Hamilton who will be a PP quarterback for the next fifteen years. Burke made a huge mistake making Kessel a key piece. Can’t win with him.

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