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Canucks need more results from Kesler's line

Friday, 06.10.2011 / 4:07 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Canucks need more results from Kesler's line
Vancouver's second line has been getting outplayed by its Boston counterparts in the Final, and Ryan Kesler understands he, Mason Raymond and Chris Higgins must be more effective to help the Canucks turn the tide.
VANCOUVER -- Ryan Kesler says to find success his line needs to go out and "just have fun."
 
It's more than that, and Vancouver's second-line center knows it.
 
Kesler, Mason Raymond and Chris Higgins have not been nearly as effective in this series as they have to be for the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup.
 
They've combined for only 2 assists and a minus-8 rating. They have 31 shots on goal but their attacks have been inconsistent, and save for a breakaway by Higgins and a point-blank opportunity by Raymond, the chances have been mediocre.
 
"We know that and we've talked about," said Kesler, who has only 4 points in his last nine games after becoming an early Conn Smythe Trophy favorite with 11 points in six games against Nashville in the second round. "It starts with me and follows up with them."
 
Kesler watches every one of his shifts after each game to see if he can pick up on a few areas where he can be better. He wouldn't say what caught his eye after he watched the Game 4 film, but did say there were more than just a couple of things.
 
"We created our own mistakes," he said. "We're going to respond."
 
Count Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault as one guy who is definitely looking for more from the Canucks' second line, which to date in the series is getting outplayed by Boston's second line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi -- a group that has combined for 5 goals and 4 assists in the Final.
 
"I think they've got to try and get on the inside a little bit more," Vigneault said of his second liners. "That whole line has great speed and when they do get the puck on the fly, they can take it to the net. But you've got to take it to the net, stay in front and, you know, compete for that net-front presence. All those guys can do that. They've proven it at different times this year, and I'm confident that we're going to do that (in Game 5)."
 
It might be harder for Kesler to do that now because he appears to be playing hurt. He says he feels good, but there is rampant speculation around this series that he's battling some type of leg injury that he suffered in the previous series against San Jose and re-aggravated early in the Final when he was checked by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
 
His injury (should he have one) may be limiting the drive he normally has, his speed to get in on the forecheck and his power in front of the net both in 5-on-5 situations and on the power play.
 
Vancouver's power play is 1-for-22 in the Stanley Cup Final and Kesler plays in front of the net on the first unit.
 
Regardless, Kesler knows he has to do all those things in Game 5 and his linemates have to follow suit.
 
"We know we can win our battles better in the corners and create turnovers on the forecheck," Raymond told NHL.com. "Those are things that permit us to be on top of our game, be more of that dynamic line we've been in the playoffs. It comes from within. We've all been in this spot that we all know we can do better, want to do better and know we have to go out and do better. It's just a matter of focusing and doing it."
 
Then they can have some fun, too.
 
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennh
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