After winning only 3 of their last 10 games, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson ripped into a slumping Phil Kessel yesteday. I suppose we’ll see if it has the desired effect.
If you remember almost a month ago, Vancouver Province columnist Ed Willes did the same thing and called out the Vancouver Canucks’ supporting cast. That was on December 14th. Since then, the Canucks are 9-2-1, averaging 3.50 goals per game; they scored 3 or more goals in 9 of those games and 4 or more goals in 6 of them.
And while the supporting cast hasn’t given Willes the Mikael Samuelsson treatment, they’ve certainly stepped up their game. In fact, the Canucks’ top line of Sedin, Sedin and Burrows accounted for only 17 of 42 goals (41%) and 48 of the 114 total points (42%) the team scored in those 12 post-Willes piece games. The second line of Kesler, Raymond and Samuelsson accounted for 14 goals (33%) and 30 points (26%), the rest of the forwards (or the bottom-six if you will) chipped in with 5 goals (12%) and 13 points (11%), and the defense scored 6 goals (14%) and 23 points (20%).
If you want to break it down further, the top line has combined for 4 points per game in the last 12 games. Further, the second line has combined for 2.5 points per game in the last 12 games, the other forwards for a shade over a point per game, and the defense for almost 2 points per game. If those stats don’t say secondary scoring, I don’t know what does.
Maybe Willes, whether it was his intent or not, actually did the Canucks a favor and lit a fire under their butts.
(PS. In case it didn’t translate properly, I wrote that last sentence with tongue-in-cheek.)