Randy Carlyle is all about getting to know the Maple Leafs before the regular season ends, and the Toronto coach should know plenty about Phil Kessel by the time Easter weekend passes. With his running mate, Joffrey Lupul, probably finished with a shoulder injury, the attention that Kessel has been receiving from opponents has increased substantially. How Kessel, who seemingly was hounded during his every shift in a 3-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, responds likely will go a long way in determining his relationship with Carlyle. What was shaping up to be a frustrating night for Kessel became a successful one in the final 20 minutes. Kessel demonstrated his value in the third period when he drew a hooking penalty on Ottawa forward Jim O'Brien. No less than 26 seconds later, Kessel ripped a shot behind Senators goalie Ben Bishop on a four-on-three Leafs power play, giving the visitors a two-goal lead. That goal became the winner, giving Kessel the winning goal in all three Toronto victories against the Senators this season. The outcome wasn't solidified until Kessel fed captain Dion Phaneuf for an insurance goal. In eight games since Carlyle took over from the fired Ron Wilson, Kessel has three goals and four assists and is minus-5.
Kessel's battles will determine relationship with Carlyle
Toronto Sun | Mar 18