KESLER’S OLYMPIC BID
After coming close to making the American Men’s Hockey Team during the 2006’s Winter Olympics Games, forward Ryan Kesler is certainly making a strong bid for himself four years later with the Olympics a mere 100 days away. Kesler leads all American players in points with 16, edging out likely Team USA candidates Patrick Cane, Dustin Brown and Zach Parise.
“It's not only the points,” explained linemate Mikael Samuelsson. “He blocks shots. He's doing a lot of work out there.”
Kesler has been able to consistently keep his play solid notching on average a point per game (5-11-16) and Tueday night Kesler set up three goals on the Canucks 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers, giving the forward a three point night placing him second team scoring a single point behind Henrik Sedin.
"What makes Ryan so good from a defenceman's view is his ability to carry the puck on the forehand and the backhand and maintain speed," said Willie Mitchell.
"You can't tell which way he is going to try to spin away from you out of a corner, for instance. He can go either way with speed. That's one of the big things that makes him so dangerous."
"I think everybody in this locker room wants to go on the ice and wants to be a game-changer," Kesler said.
"Every time I step on the ice, that's the only thing on my mind. A couple of seasons ago it was defence, defence, defence. Now, I'm trying to push that offence really hard."
STRUGGLING TO STAY HEALTHY
The Canucks, struggling to stay healthy, are 9-7-0 ranking second in the Northwest Division. Pretty good considering the lineup’s been stitched together with players coming and going like a revolving door.
Since the start of the season 11 players have fallen out of the lineup and yesterday night the Canucks future looked even worse as Henrik Sedin hobbled off the ice and headed to the dressing room after taking a shot off the foot. Rubbing salt in the wound, Willie Mitchell also took a shot off the groin and returned to the bench for treatment. Moments later the building collectively breathed a sigh of relief, as both players returned to finish the game.
"We have to keep our guys focused on the day-to-day," said Alain Vigneault. "We've got to come up with the best plan to give us the best chance to win on that particular day. I mean, this has been going since Day one of the regular season. We're going to continue to do that as long as we're faced with this situation."
On the bright side, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo (rib), forward Jannik Hansen (hand) and forward Ryan Johnson are close to returning. Luongo, Hansen, and Johnson will travel with the team on their five game road trip starting Thursday night in Minnesota. Ryan Johnson, who has been skating with the team, is hopefully he will make it into the line up during this road trip.
Andrew Raycroft is making the most of his opportunity. The former Calder trophy winner, got his first start of the season four games ago after Luongo was sidelined with a hairline fracture to his rib.
Standing up to the task, Raycroft now leads the NHL in goals against-average with 1.52 and ranks second in save percentage with 9.37 per cent.
"If I did [not think I could do it], I'd go do something else,” explained Raycroft. “If I didn't enjoy what I was doing, didn't believe in myself, there's a lot of other things to do in this world than play hockey. I've never wavered that way."
ROUGH AND TUMBLE
Last night on route to the Canucks 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers things got a little heated during the third period sparking a 1970’s style brawl on the ice.
What initially started as a tussle between Kevin Bieksa and The Rangers Marion Gaborik, morphed into a full out scrap with ten rangers and seven Canucks duking it out on the ice.
"It felt like 10-on-3," said Bieksa. “There was Kes in the middle getting swarmed and I jumped in the pile. I know there were other guys on the ice, but we were just outnumbered."
"I got jumped and somehow we were on the penalty-kill," he said. "[ Marian Gaborik] cross-checked me, so I gave him a little shot and the next thing you know I have got six guys on top of me."
Shane O’Brien will reportedly attend a disciplinary hearing after using his stick to make contact with Rangers Sean Avery according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.