Toronto Maple Leafs fans have something to be proud of. While no Leaf is coming home from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics with a medal, Phil Kessel is coming home with the award for Best Forward at the Games, according to Antti Makinen on Twitter.
@mfinewaxhockey Award for best goalie: Carey Price, best defenseman Erik Karlsson and best forward Phil Kessel
— Antti Mäkinen (@sirmakinen) February 23, 2014
In the American’s six games, Kessel lead the Olympics in scoring with five goals and three assists for a total of eight points. Kessel dominated in each game he took part in until the American’s ran into Team Canada.
When the Americans ran into a team that actually played good defense, their opposition made sure that Kessel and linemates Joe Pavelski and fellow Maple Leaf James van Riemsdyk couldn’t get into a rhythm. That trend continued in the Bronze Medal Game against Finland. The Americans were shut out in each of their last two games.
So Kessel couldn’t make a difference in his final two games, but the offensive outburst in the first four games was enough to ensure that he was named the Best Forward in the Olympics.
This should make the Toronto Maple Leafs really proud and should stop any criticism of Kessel that remained. He has proven to be one of the best American players in the game and possibly in the world. He obviously outscored the best in the world.
I wouldn’t even blame Kessel for the American’s losses. He did his best to get past the coverage but was unable to get past the strong defenses of Canada and Finland. It was the other Americans that couldn’t step up when Kessel was taken out of the picture.