Hot Take: Phil Kessel

Sidney Crosby has been the biggest face in hockey going on 11 years now. He is also the captain. So, when his team wins the Stanley Cup and he played pretty well, it is understandable that he would win the Conn Smythe, the award given to the best player in the playoffs. However, I was surprised. Did anyone see Phil Kessel? What a juggernaut. I think he was hard done.

Crosby had a respectable 19 points in 24 games. But Kessel finished with more points (22) than Sid the Kid in the same amount of games. Okay, points aren’t everything, sure. Crosby’s 52.4 face-off winning percentage ain’t too shabby and he did have 3 game-winning goals. So it is not like Crosby slacked. Heck, at times, he was a dominating force.

But speaking of dominating forces, let’s talk about Phil Kessel again. He is an often criticized player, who many said lacked the will and determination to play in big games (though his previous playoff numbers would beg to differ). He was knocked for not being a winner. He shut all those people up this year. His line combination with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino was the best line in the playoffs, as all three ended up among the top 11 point getters in the playoffs. Kessel and Hagelin provide ultra speed and Bonino is a smart center who is able to facilitate to those strengths. Every time on the ice, they were threatening. Coming at the opposition from all directions.

Just look at this hard work the whole line puts in:

(Love the French commentating btw)

Crosby ended up a -2 in the playoffs compared to Kessel’s +5. That says a lot to me. He was just the more consistent player on the most potent line and his 10 goals were only bested by Nikita Kucherov’s 11 and Joe Pavelski’s 14. It seemed as though he could score from anywhere on the ice. No one in the playoffs came even close to Kessel’s 98 SOG. Teammate Patric Hornqvist was second with 80.

I get that Crosby is the face of the franchise and an all-time great, but it still doesn’t take away the fact that Phil Kessel was the team’s best, most consistent player. He deserved this spotlight. At least he has another opportunity to show his big game ability come the September in the World Cup of Hockey . . . oh, wait, no, he was omitted from the Team USA for some crazy reason. Damn, the dude can never catch a break.

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