When Phil Kessel was named the Leafs’ representative to the All-Star game, many in Leaf Nation cried out that it should have been Mikhail Grabovski in his place, and maybe rightfully so. After this weekend in Raleigh, Kessel is probably wishing it had been, given the steady stream of misfortunes that befell the young American.
Friday night, the one fate that every All-Star was dreading was being picked last in the All-Star Fantasy Draft. And, in typical Leaf fashion, it was our boy that was left alone on the draft board. While the announcers attempted to make light of his unfortunate plight, and the fact that he was selected as one of the top players in the league is certainly nothing to frown at, it still had to be unnerving to be the last one picked, especially with players doing the drafting.
Saturday didn’t treat Phil much better, as he was bested in his match of the sharpshooting competition by Rick Nash. Kessel turned in a decent performance, but was robbed by a couple of goalposts. He did show well in the Super Skills Relay Challenge, where he was selected to perform the most difficult set of one-timers from below the circles, netting 3 of the 4 on-target passes he received.
During Sunday’s All-Star Game, Kessel was one of just five skaters that failed to register a point, and one of just two forwards. Ryan Kesler, Keith Yandle, Marc Staal and Erik Karlsson were the other players who were unable to score a point. Kessel was the only non-scorer to finish the game with a positive rating at +1, and finished with 3 shots.
Let’s hope his rough weekend in Raleigh adds some fire to Phil’s game. He’s been held without a goal since the Leafs’ win over San Jose back on January 11th. He has just three points, all assists, in the seven games since, in which Toronto has gone 1-5-1.