With 4 points (0G 4A) in 7 games, Kessel's goal-scoring and point-production has certainly been underwhelming. Following 40 hard minutes of bullying from the Rangers last Saturday, a game which I attended, Leafs Nation and the Toronto media have really zeroed-in on Kessel's lack of scoring.
Phil Kessel doing his best Jordan Tootoo impression - Leafs v. Sabres (1/21/13)
Photo courtesy of MapleLeafs.com
This led me to look into Kessel's goal/point-production and shot attempts per month, throughout his time as a Leaf.
The first chart presents Kessel's average goals-per-month (GPM) and goals-per-game (GPG) by month for the past three seasons. (Due to the small sample size of games during the month of April, results from that particular month should garner less consideration.)
- January is typically the weakest GPM and GPG month - on average, January comes 6th, out of the 7-month season, in goal-scoring (4.00 GPM and 0.31 GPG)
- February is typically a strong GPM and GPG month - on average, February comes 2nd, out of the 7-month season, in goal-scoring (5.67 GPM and 0.58 GPG)
The second chart presents Kessel's average points-per-game (PPG) and shots-per-game (SPG) by month for the past three seasons. (Once again, due to April's small sample size, results from that particular month should garner less consideration.)
- On average, January is the least (7th) productive month (0.72 PPG) and the 2nd highest month in shot attempts (4.28 SPG)
- On average, February is the 2nd most productive month (1.25 PPG) and the 3rd lowest month in shot attempts (3.89 SPG)
Now, there are numerous potential variables at play but the reason for the inclusion of shot totals into the analysis is because although Kessel hasn't scored as much, he is still shooting and generating chances. After Thursday night's win against Washington, no one can deny that he isn't getting his share of scoring opportunities. Subsequently, if we re-order the months from highest PPG to lowest PPG, an interesting relationship emerges.
In short, a low-scoring and high-shooting January is nothing new for Kessel.
This lockout-shortened season brings with it added uncertainty and prior fast starts out of the gate may provide limited insight into what we can expect from players this season. In fact, one could argue that many things haven't turned out as predicted. However, given the inverse relationship between SPG and PPG, the historical productivity cycles, and with 15 games set for the following month, February may yet prove to be another productive period for Phil Kessel.