Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/30/13
Former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke hasn’t taken to sowing his gloats about Phil Kessel. Burke took huge grief when he got Kessel from the Boston Bruins and gave up two first-round draft picks. Boston took forward Tyler Seguin and defenceman Dougie Hamilton in back-to-back NHL entry drafts, but Seguin, who was shipped off to the Dallas Stars this past summer for Loui Eriksson and other players, isn’t in Kessel’s league. Kessel was dazzling on Tuesday with two wonderful sleight-of-hand goals (seven in his last four games) — a sweet feed to linemate James VanRiemsdyk and a setup for rookie defenceman Morgan Rielly’s first NHL goal as the Maple Leafs crushed the Edmonton Oilers 4-0. Kessel’s four points moved him into a tie with Steve Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the NHL scoring race behind the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby. Toronto goalie James Reimer, meanwhile, made 43 stops for his 11th career shut-out, throwing one back at Jonathan Bernier, who seems to have caught more of the fancy with Maple Leaf Nation for his work in the first month. Reimer doesn’t look cool as a cucumber, but he battles. Nothing came close to beating him on Tuesday. Oilers coach Dallas Eakins chose to look for positives than to throw anybody under the bus in the team’s fifth game in eight days. Either that or he’s in denial and is just numbed by all the setbacks, because it’s all about wins and losses and the Oilers are 3-9-2. The Oilers have beaten three teams (Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils). “I don’t believe we were out-competed, outhit, out-toughed, outshot,” Eakins said. “We were out-finished and we talked about that (before the game). They’re a team that doesn’t have the puck a whole lot ... they’ve been outshot a fair amount this season (43-26 Tuesday), but if you give them opportunities, they will score. We gave them three absolute gifts (first, third and fourth goals).” Defenceman Andrew Ference was dispirited by his club’s lack of continuity from the first period, when they went toe-to-toe with the Leafs, to the middle frame, when they dug themselves a deep hole they weren’t getting out of with a flashlight and a stepladder. There wasn’t nearly enough effort for the captain’s liking. “I don’t know if I’ve seen our team glide more than we did in the second,” said Ference. Eakins was taken aback by Ference’s analysis. “Did he think we stunk in the second?” the coach asked after the Oilers went from losing 1-0 to 3-0. “I don’t think there was a massive dip. I do agree that the individuals have a consistency and one of a very high level. We got a good taste of that when we played L.A. the other night. It was every shift. Tonight, it was who finishes chances and who doesn’t,” said Eakins.
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