Could Kesler be pacing himself?
One Goal So Far: Perhaps slower start to season will ensure longevity for centreman
It was our first little stroll down queer street this season with the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday when it was suggested by all principals concerned that black was really white.
It was stonewall city when it came to getting answers about the starts of both Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler, other than the loud bull-bleep alarm, but this may not be altogether a bad thing.
Kesler has one goal in four games, and while he has 14 shots, nine of them came against Edmonton, a team that is never likely to gain any concept of defence no matter how many first-round picks they have.
And Kes has just one shot in his last two games. Against the Devils, it was down to just one attempt and his speed was such that he was indistinguishable from any other player on the ice. But the Canucks won those two games and sit at 3-1. Higgins has one assist despite his team-leading 16 shots, but real scoring opportunities are pretty much limited to the open net he missed in Calgary. Basically, he's doing everything he did when he played for John Tortorella in the past.
And that's play the system well but not score any goals.
As far as the coach is concerned, everything is hunky-dory.
They're both playing well, doing things properly, their positioning and effort levels are there and "the goals will come."
Evidently, the difficulty, and the reason you're dying if you have RK17 in your hockey pool, is our eyes.
For his part, Kesler didn't hurt himself in that fight with Will Acton, and as always during the season says he's completely healthy.
"Before I used to wind up a lot and be out of position and now they kind of want me playing more of a positional
game," said Kesler. "It's a different way of playing and we're still learning to play this style. It's very aggressive."
When it was suggested that this style should suit him he said: "Some would think so. I really don't know yet; we're still making the transition. Our line has been getting a lot of bad bounces. But no need to go burn down the city."
Like you could with all this rain. "He's not counting in terms of goals and assists but he's getting there," said Tortorella of Kesler. "Offensively and defensively I think he's playing in the areas. We really concentrated on him getting back to playing under the hash marks in front of the net. I think he's he's done that; he hasn't been rewarded. He just needs to stay with it. He's done some really good things defensively and understanding in how we defend."
If you think about this a little more thoroughly, it may not be such a bad thing.
Perhaps, and only perhaps because nobody would ever admit it, Kesler is finally figuring it out, learning how to pace himself a little bit so he lasts the season in one piece and is healthy enough to turn it on when it really matters.
It's not like the team is losing and fading from the playoff race.
And if he is trying to back off a little, perhaps it's not surprising that a person attempting this should occasionally get it wrong and back off too much in error in some cases - like Tuesday night.
How else do you explain Kesler, evidently completely healthy, looking completely disinterested? And then there's Higgins. "It'll turn for me. I can only control how hard I'm working and what we need right now is for that one play to open up for us and it will change around. I've had a couple of great chances, that's for sure, but I think we're building on each game, I think we're getting better in each game."
The coach praised Higgins' "wall play" and thinks the goals will come. And as far as the rest of the team is concerned, everything is great other than admitting "the fourth line is a concern."
Concern is an understatement. Eyesore may be a better description but we really don't know because they never get on the ice.
Then again, perhaps that's his concern, that at some point they do.
But at 3-1 and the Sedins playing great, perhaps we should stow the matches for that city burning just a little longer.
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