One player has six goals, tied for the lead on the team.
The other has just one, getting his first in Game 11 on Thursday here in Winnipeg.
But when the Toronto Maple Leafs’ wingers chat on the bench, Matt Frattin is the one taking advice from Phil Kessel on where to find openings to score.
“He’ll say ‘Hey, this guy’s dropping on you quick, try to put it upstairs,’” Frattin explained. “Little things like that.
“But you look at his goals, he shoots anywhere. He shoots high glove, high blocker. He’ll shoot five-hole. That’s good. You have to have different options when you shoot or goalies are going to be cheating. It makes them second guess themselves.”
Kessel may be well off his normal 30-goal pace this season, but what has blown up into a huge story outside the dressing room isn’t one inside it.
His coaches and teammates look at the way he has played and the chances he has generated – Kessel sits second in the NHL in shots on goal with 46, a 4.18-per-game rate that is high by even his standards – and shrug over the low goal total.
“We knew it was only a matter of time,” said Tyler Bozak, Kessel’s centre and closest friend on the team. “I’m probably happier than him because I don’t have to get asked every day why he’s not scoring yet.”
“Everybody was just happy he finally got one,” Frattin added. “He’s been shooting a lot and hitting pipes and hitting shoulders. That was a great shot. A timely, huge goal.”
All eyes on Leafs' Kessel as trade rumours swirl
The Globe and Mail | Feb 9