OTTAWA, CANADA - APRIL 2: Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his goal with teammate Dion Phaneuf #3 in a game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on April 2, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Saturday night I had the pleasure of taking in the Leafs-Senators game at the ACC East. As part of the festivities for my buddy's bachelor party we were in a box lovingly provided by his father. Things being as they tend to be, the memories of the game are somewhat hazy. If you ever have a chance to have someone else pay for you to go see a game like that I recommend it. If you want to go to see a Leafs game with lots of Leafs fans, a great atmosphere, and a good chance at a win (of late), head down to Ottawa. But I digress.
What I do remember is that Phil Kessel notched his 30th goal of the season. It is the second time he has hit that mark as a Maple Leaf and the third time in row in his career. The goal was scored at the other end of the ice so I'll blame that for not being able to realise that it was such a great goal. The Noon Number and the goal are after the jump.
Kessel's goal highlights the unique skills that he brings to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He reads the offensive opportunity in the Leafs' quick play in the corner and skates to open ice where he can exploit one of his best attributes: his incredible speed. His speed forces panic in the lead footed Flip Kuba which cause him to turn to the middle of the ice rather than towards Kessel. I'd wager that he did so as an acknowledgement that he was was limited to trying to prevent Kessel from cutting across the front of the net since a turn towards the outside would have left him choking on Kessel's dust. At first glace, it looked like Craig Anderson had bailed out his errant defenceman. That's when Kessel's predatory nature and excellent hand eye coordination netted him his 30th. On the fly, he reacted to the rebound and batted it in to send Leafs fans into raptures.
Which brings us to the Noon Number: Since the 1994-1995 season, 11 players have compiled three or more 30 goal seasons in the seasons up to and including their 24th birthday (as of February 1st of that season). The list is, as you can imagine, in addition to being limited is quite illustrious:
The list above can certainly grow in the coming seasons. Jeff Skinner will no doubt add his name to the list as will Stamkos and Toews to say nothing of guys like Taylor Hall and Jonathan Tavares. But that's not to say that Boston didn't get a unique talent in Tyler Seguin. Over that same period he is one of only 148 players to score 11 goals in their first season. Be careful not to read that last link too closely.
How great is Phil Kessel?
Great (119 votes)
The Greatest (113 votes)
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