“He’s a natural born goal scorer,” said John Hynes, the former Wisconsin assistant coach who now leads the NTDP and coached Kessel at the Under-18 tournament. “Phil has the ability, kind of like Brett Hull, with a natural quick release where the puck just seems to find the net. He’s extremely fast, and his skating is exceptional.”
Youtube Video of all 42 goals scored by Kessel during the 2008-09 regular season and 2009 playoffs here. You can also view each goal individually here at nhl.com
Just like many other Leaf fans, I'm really looking forward to watching Phil Kessel in the blue & white this upcoming season. If you watch the video of Kessel, you'll quickly find that this is indeed a highly-skilled young player who can skate like the wind and possesses a quick release.
Some folks have been saying that Marc Savard had quite a bit to do with his 36 goals last season, an easy assumption make considering that Savard and Kessel were regular linemates last season. During even-strength play, Savard assisted on 19 of his 26 goals (not including the two empty net goals Kessel picked up), 15 of them were first assists. Kessel played 770:44 minutes of ES time alongside Savard, 79 % of Kessel's icetime; Lucic was the other winger on that line.
(Interestingly, only two of Kessel's 8 power-play goals were assisted by Savard.)
However, I wasn't satisfied with the statistics, so I decided to do some "scouting". Based on footage from that youtube video (and some from nhl.com's videos of Kessel's goals where I needed a clearer look, as the youtube vid isn't of very good quality), I've written brief descriptions of all 26 even-strength goals scored during the regular season. It does seem to me that Savard wasn't as big of a factor as the stats suggest, Kessel deserves much of the credit for his goals, due to that great shot of his and his speed.
- Oct. 9, 2008 @ COL: Sakic has trouble handling the puck over by the left boards, Kessel steals and then shoots from behind the faceoff circles.
- Oct. 10, 2008 @ MIN: Receives one-timer, shoots within the centre of the right circle.
- Oct. 18, 2008 @ OTT: Nice setup by Savard from right corner to left side of the net.
- Nov. 1, 2008 vs DAL: Flies in over the blueline, shoots the puck by/through the Stars defender for the goal.
- Nov. 17, 2008 @ TOR: Savard at the Boston blueline banks the puck off the right boards and Kessel picks it up as he crosses the blueline, skates in and shoots it by Finger for the goal.
- Nov. 19, 2008 vs BUF: Savard in "Gretzky's office" sends puck out front to Lucic, who backhands the puck over to Kessel for the goal.
- Nov. 21, 2008 vs FLA: Savard with a blueline-to-blueline pass to Kessel for a breakaway goal.
- Nov. 26, 2008 @ BUF: Kessel passes to Savard on the right, it looks Savard fans on a shot attempt, but Lucic then directs puck over to Kessel who cashes in.
- Nov. 28, 2008 vs NYI: Lucic finds Kessel all alone in the slot.
- Nov. 29, 2008 vs DET: Hnidy passes to Kessel, both players on the perimeter, Kessel scores 10 ft out from circles.
- Dec. 4, 2008 @ TAM: Receives Savard's pass from behind the net, taps it in.
- Dec. 8, 2008 vs TAM: Nice move on TB Dman as he enters the offensive zone, goes from right-to-left, shoots from left-circle as Lucic heads to net. This was an unassisted goal.
- Dec. 18, 2008 vs TOR: Takes pass from Savard as they head into the zone, roars down the right side and blows it by goalie.
- Dec. 18, 2008 vs TOR: Savard from behind the net to Kessel in front in the right circle, first shot attempt blocked/fanned on, then Kessel recovers puck, tries the shot again and scores.
- Dec. 28, 2008 @ ATL: Receives pass, shoots from the centre of the ice just outside circles.
- Dec. 30, 2008 @ PIT: Penguins player coughs up puck, Kessel takes it and shoots from behind the circles, Savard recovers rebound and passes it over to Kessel for a tap-in.
- Feb. 22, 2009 @ TAM: Lucic-Kessel-Savard storm in, Savard drops puck back to Kessel in the slot.
- Feb. 28, 2009 vs WSH: Savard to Kessel, who snuck in past the Caps defence to the right side of the goal.
- Mar. 7, 2009 vs CHI: Tic-tac-toe play, Kessel is the "toe" at the top of the right-circle (Lucic to Savard to Kessel).
- Mar. 12, 2009 vs OTT: Receives pass from Savard just as he's leaving the Bruins defensive zone, flies through the neutral zone, comes in on two Sens defenders with Lucic on the left, roofs it.
- Mar. 14, 2009 vs NYI: Comes in on the left side and snaps it in.
- Mar. 15, 2009 @ PIT: Nice setup by a falling Blake Wheeler to find Kessel at right side of net for a backhand goal.
- Apr. 7, 2009 @ OTT: Sens player has trouble handling bouncing puck behind goal line, tries to pass it but Savard steals the puck and sends it out to Kessel at top of crease.
- Apr. 9, 2009 vs MTL: This one is a beauty of an end-to-end rush goal. Metropolit steals the puck in the Bruins zone but loses it shortly after, then Yannick Weber comes in with a shot that's stopped by Thomas, rebound bounces out into the slot, a Bruin defender whiffs on the clearing attempt with a Hab nearby... but Kessel nabs the puck and takes flight, absolutely zipping through the neutral zone, it's a two-on-two and he releases from the outer edge of the right faceoff circle.
- Apr. 12, 2009 @ NYI: Wheeler's pass finds Kessel at left-side of NYI goal, one-timer goal.
- Apr. 12, 2009 @ NYI: One-timer setup by Kobasew and Kessel delivers an absolutely blistering shot to complete the hat-trick against the NYI (2nd goal was scored with a man-advantage).