Phil Kessel in: Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

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Phil Kessel in: Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

By Justin Aucoin
WickedGoodSports.com

As both a Boston Bruins and NHL fan, its pretty hard not to get excited and a little giddy when Phil Kessel starts tanking and then acts like a prima donna thats accomplished something in the NHL when, in fact, hes done diddly.

And, thankfully, hes right on schedule for both.

Hes goalless in his last 12 games and has a mere four assists during that stretch. His last goal came on January 11th against the San Jose Sharks. He and Nathan Horton are probably having get-togethers tea parties on off days to talk about their troubles.

Last Saturday Kessel hit a boiling point.

He was benched during a 6-2 butt kicking by the slightly-more-talented Buffalo Sabres. He was also demoted to the third line, putting Mr. Irrelevant in a foul temper for the rest of the weekend.

The following day he vented his frustration to reporters:

"No, me and coach Ron Wilson don't really talk. That's all I have to say about that." And then, when pressured if he was asking for a trade out of Toronto added, "I don't know. Maybe it's just not working out, I guess. Who knows? I didn't get anything going. Maybe it's time for a change or something. Who knows?"

His coach riposted.

"Phil doesnt really want to talk much about goal scoring or even work on it that much in practice," Wilson said.
Touche, monsieur!

Marriage counseling probably isnt standard NHL protocol, but clearly theres some communication issues up north if Kessel and Wilson arent talking.

I don't think anyone talks to the coach that often, right? I mean, some guys might, but I don't. Theres no problem, Kessel said.

Umm if you go a whole month without a goal and your team is already the butt of jokes, it might be a good idea to talk to your coach. He might -- oh, we dont know have some tips or notes for you.

But Kessel -- being ever the horrible politician -- insisted that his words were taken out of context and he was referring to playing on the chum-change line not working out.

"I love Toronto, I want to be here," Kessel said. "I love this city. I love the fans. I love this team. The guys are great here. I don't want any trade or anything like that. I want to be here for a very long time."

To prove this point, Kessel went around hugging everyone in Toronto, kissing babies, shaking hands and even bought one of those I Love Toronto t-shirts.

So Kessel has gone from loving the Maple Leafs, to saying (in some capacity) that its not working out in Toronto, to loving the city all over again. Screw Keanu Reeves; Phil Kessel needs to star in the next Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

And if you read Bob McKenzies tweets youd get the impression that Kessel is bi-polar.

And so continues the train wreck that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Were not quite sure if its at the Super BowlBlack Eyed Peas level of train wreck, but its comical nonetheless.

Once again we can say, Thank you, Kessel.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

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First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two flouts to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

 

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver