Boston Bruins: Phil Kessel must be kept under control versus Coyotes

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 17: (former Boston Bruins draft pick) Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes looks on from the bench during the third period of an NHL preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena on September 17, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 17: (former Boston Bruins draft pick) Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes looks on from the bench during the third period of an NHL preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings at Gila River Arena on September 17, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Boston Bruins will face-off against a familiar adversary tonight, when Phil Kessel suits up against them in Arizona Coyotes colors.

Phil Kessel was originally a first round (5th overall) draft pick of the Boston Bruins way back in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and went on to play 222 regular season games in the city before finding himself packaged in deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Over there, Boston Bruins fans will recall several memorable encounters with their former player, namely the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where even Phil Kessel was unable to stop the Bruins marching on in a comeback Game 7 victory in the first round.

Moved on eventually to the Pittsburgh Penguins, he played a key role on the wing alongside the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as they took home two consecutive Stanley Cup, being unlucky not be named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy on the first such occasion.

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Finally, he gets to Arizona where he found himself dealt this summer just passed, with Alex Galchenyuk heading in the opposite direction. In the desert, he doesn’t find himself surrounded by as many big names, but he can still make a definite impact for the team.

You’d have to view it as a step-down to go from playing with centers such as Malkin and Crosby to playing with Derek Stepan, but if anyone can adapt to different levels of talent centering his line, it’s Phil Kessel.

Despite centers like Tyler Bozak, who is hardly a world-beater, Phil Kessel still consistently netted 30-plus goals in but one full 82-game season in Toronto. Add Crosby and Malkin to the scenario and we’re just two years removed from a 92-point year. Whilst those numbers may now be unreachable, Stepan is no slouch and you’d still expect Kessel to comfortably net 25 or more goals.

In fact, that’s the most impressive thing about Phil Kessel and why the Boston Bruins need to ensure he is limited tonight. He doesn’t look anything like the archetype of an elite NHL winger but is exactly that.

He actually has really deft feet and a release that is among the quicker in the league. Perhaps overlooked is his ability to create a play, opening up ice for his teammates with much more focus being on his ability as a pure goal-scoring type.

Where he can be controlled tonight is if the Boston Bruins are able to force him to play in the defensive end. Phil Kessel has never been very much known for his abilities in his own end and if Patrice Bergeron‘s line can force him back there, he can be subdued.

Next. Key match-up to win versus Arizona. dark

Whether that happens to be the case for the Boston Bruins tonight and they are able to control him, we shall just have to wait and see.