Watching Phil Kessel on the powerplay has been both a treat and a source of anxiety for me. It seems that the coaching staff isn't sure what to do with him on the ice during the PP. So far the plan has been to have Kessel on the left half-boards distributing the puck and walking into the slot to shoot. Looking back at his stats over his first 3 years in the league, the bulk of his scoring has come 5 on 5. He has averaged 25% of his scoring on the powerplay so far in his career. Is that because he's that good on the PP or because the coaches assume that a natural scorer gets PP time by default? Phil Kessel's ice time has increased 3.5 minutes per game after coming to a talent-challenged team. I think that this is the scenario that develops when a above average player is brought to another team and is expected to produce at a higher rate with more ice time. That hardly ever happens unfortunately. A great example of this phenomenon is Dustin Penner. Scoring 29 goals on the 2nd line before being snatched up by Kevin Lowe, Penner came to Edmonton and hasn't started living up to expectations until this year. He's started living up to his billing this year under different coaches. Is that maybe an issue with Kessel? I haven't really seen Kessel get used effectively on the PP.
Changing Kessel's linemates for the PP would help. I'd like to advocate a change of center to Mikhail Grabovksi. Seriously, people, Grabbo can pass the puck. I'll never be able to figure out why this hasn't been tried. Especially when the Leafs were on a 0 for 15 run on the PP. Ron Wilson's unwillingness to be a line juggling coach may end up hurting the team in the short and long run. I'm don't believe that a line has to be together all the time to be successful. Shouldn't it be a reward for great 5 on 5 play to get on the powerplay? For a guy who says that ice time is earned he certainly doesn't live by it. This theory is upheld by John Mitchell floating around on the PP prior to his injury. No idea how a guy with 1 goal on the season can be on the number 2 powerplay unit. This brings me back to Phil Kessel. Let's drop him to the number 2 unit for a week. Motivate him to get that ice time back. Let's start coaching Ron.