There are some players in the NHL that have a love/hate relationship with their fans. Tyler Kennedy is a good example in Pittsburgh.
The number of people I know who have cursed Tyler Kennedy's name this season has grown. Kennedy has gone from making $525,000 his rookie year to $2 million a year the past two seasons. For some, a fourth line center making that money is unthinkable, and based on his play, too much.
Kenendy's play hasn't been the best in 2013 either. Making mistakes and the "point and shoot" mentality irritates a lot of fans. His 11 points ( 5 goals, 6 assists) and a +/- of -6 is not what many would say is worth paying him $2 million and seeing a veteran player on this squad underachieve.
Despite the criticism, the number 48 has often been an unsung hero in the Pens postseason runs since 2008.
Tyler Kennedy is not a player that fans expect to score many goals like a Crosby or Malkin. His presence comes at very convenient moments for the Penguins. In his first appearance in this series, Kennedy's goal helped a tense Consol Energy Center crowd and his teammates loosen up after being outplayed and outshot 14-7 in the first period. A long lead pass, lead to a breakaway goal that made the difference, and proved to be the game winner in a 4-0 rout of the Islanders.
An interesting stat that you have probably heard in the past 24 hours. Tyler Kennedy has seven game winning goals in the playoffs in his career. That's more than Sidney Crosby. A stat that seems unthinkable, right?
Speaking of key moments, let's take a trip back to the year 2009. The place: Mellon Arena. The setting: Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins needed a win to force Game 7 back in Detroit. A 1-0 lead going into the third, Kennedy scored a goal from the right side of the Red Wings net and gave Pittsburgh insurance, which proved to be important as the Penguins held on to win 2-1.
Kennedy's role in any game can vary from useless body to big playmaker. It's his poor play that makes fans go crazy. But the moments like his goal last night or the winning goal in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final makes some of us forget all the negative things fans say about him and go crazy in another way.
Has he played like a $2 million player this year? No, not really. But Dan Bylsma knows he has a guy with playoff experience who offers a spark at key moments. Hard to believe Kennedy has that many game winners in the playoffs. Less than Malkin, but more than Crosby.
The effort is there from Kennedy, the mentality at times isn't. He's a player that you love one minute and can easily turn on when he doesn't play well.
Just remember, at the end of the day, when Kennedy is on his game and lights the lamp, that's a goal from...