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The Window for getting a great season out of Phil Kessel is only going to continue to get smaller


Phil Kessel’s performance in the Penguins 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday night just summed up his season with the Penguins.

Kessel had the puck on his stick to open the game with a grade-A chance but couldn’t raise the puck past Jaroslav Halak to give the Penguins early momentum and a 1-0 lead.

Kessel then had the puck on his stick in the waning seconds of regulation to tie the game with another grade-A chance and came up empty. The frustration with the game ending blocked shot from Travis Hamonic on the Kessel shot attempt is Kessel’s moving backwards when the pucks coming to him. He took himself out of position and as he’s going backwards it gives Hamonic ample time to block the shot.

To Kessel’s defense, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby also missed some grade-A chances in the third period. It happens. That said the night for Kessel was so Phil Kessel and what continues to be concerning for the Penguins big picture is Kessel was also not finishing these type of grade-A chances with the Maple Leafs last season. He’s a declining player that doesn’t project to be a difference maker into his 30’s and the window to get a great season or seasons out of him is only going to continue to get slimmer moving forward.

— The other concerning aspect for the Penguins in this one was the Islanders getting under the Penguins skin. The blueprint is there for any team in playing the Penguins in a playoff series, try to drive them nuts and that Islanders fourth line can do it. Kris Letang had a great game but the Isles were getting under his skin at times and frustrations boiled over for Ian Cole with a bad penalty in the third period.

— No 5 v 5 goals between the two teams. The difference was two power play goals from the Islanders. The way the Islanders penalty kill, though, is what stood out. The Penguins can burn teams that sit back and New York counters that with quick forwards who rotate very quickly to take away shooting lanes as the Penguins had just 4 power play shots in three opportunities.

— Bright spot for the Penguins 5 v 5 was winning the possession game, an area they’ve struggled in the past vs New York. Pittsburgh held a 68-53 shot attempts advantage 5 v 5. Lot’s of shot attempts but not a lot of high danger chances. Both teams were effective at limiting high danger scoring chances.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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