Over the past 11 games - starting with February 8th's game - the Toronto Maple Leafs are 6-1-4. On that morning the Maple Leafs woke up in 12th place and nine points out of the playoffs. Tomorrow morning, the Maple Leafs will find themselves in 10th place in the conference and only four points out of the final playoff spot.
After 64 games last year the Maple Leafs were 20-32-12 for 52 points with 167 goals for and 217 goals against. This year the Leafs are 28-27-9 for 65 points with 167 goals for and 195 goals against. Last year those goals for and against figures stood good enough for the 26th and 29th in the league. Right now, the Leafs stand 25th (Progress!!!1) and 22nd (Actual Progress!!!1).
What's that got to do with the number 15? Well, one of the big reasons for the Maple Leafs' recent push towards the playoffs has been Phil Kessel. Over the past 11 games Phil Kessel has eight goals and seven assists for fifteen points. He's taken 46 shots in that span for a 17.4% shooting percentage which has gone a long way toward bringing his season average back to 10% on the season. Whether it's his new car like Ron Wilson suggested, Darryl Boyce's good influence, or Dion Phaneuf's leadership, Kessel has been the straw that stirs the drink during this run.
Don't believe it? Come over the jump with me.
Here's a quick look at how important Kessel's points have been during this streak:
- NYI - Assisted on the game winning goal.
- NJD - Assisted on the goal that opened the scoring for the Leafs.
- BOS - Scored two goals and each one tied the game.
- BUF - His goal opened the scoring for the Leafs.
- NYI - He scored the game winning goal late in the third period.
- MTL - His first goal tied the game, his second gave the Leafs the lead, his first assist gave the Leafs the lead after they coughed up a two goal lead in 20 seconds, and his second assist came on the game winning goal.
- ATL - His goal gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead and should have sealed it with how James Reimer was playing.
- PIT - His goal tied the game up in the third period and his delicious assist set up Mikhail Grabovski's game winning goal.
Holy shit that's impactful.
(This post was actually written by PPP)