Vancouver Canucks forward Derek Roy (15) leaves the ice after being injured in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Nashville.
Photograph by: Mark Humphrey, AP
NASHVILLE – A centre played out of position, but it wasn't Ryan Kesler.
The Canuck catalyst, who practised as a winger on Sunday to allow struggling Derek Roy to move into Kesler's position as the second-line centre, was in his familiar spot Monday against the Nashville Predators. It was Roy who played on the wing -- Kesler's.
The newest Canuck didn't mind as Roy had a goal and assist, scoring for the first time since his trade from the Dallas Stars two weeks ago and helping Vancouver beat Nashville 5-2.
“Me and AV talked this morning,” Roy said of his meeting with coach Alain Vigneault. “I told him I played wing in the playoffs (in Buffalo) and before you know it, I look on the board, and I'm on the wing. We're just trying things out. We just have to keep winning games and building momentum.
“We played well (as a line) and had a couple of goals, but at the same time we can play better.”
Roy played on the wing with centre Chris Drury during the Buffalo Sabres' drive to conference finals in 2006 and 2007. But he has been mostly a centre since then. So has Kesler.
Jannik Hansen was deployed as the right winger on the line, which finished with six points. It made Vigneault look smart for pooling his offensive talent in the top six rather than leaving Roy in the middle of a third line diminished by the knee injury to Chris Higgins.
“I like it,” Kesler said of the new combination. “(Roy's) a really good player, crafty. He's a really good playmaker. It's always fun to play with a playmaker. It seems like you get more opportunities.”
It's a blend of skill sets that should work. Roy has a pass-first mentality and Kesler loves to shoot. He scored twice against the Predators, the second on a cross-ice pass by Roy.
The hardest thing for Roy was the accidental, unpenalized stick in the face he took in the second period. That's when Hansen also laboured off the ice after being winded in a collision. Both players were fine, although Roy said he expected to have trouble sleeping.
The line will get another game together tonight in St. Louis.
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