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Kesler: Timing wasn't right to drop gloves

by Dan Rosen
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Joe Thornton joked Wednesday morning that he was "shocked, very shocked" Ryan Kesler didn't want to fight him before the opening faceoff in Game 1. Thornton also said he probably won't try the same tactic if the two are in on the opening draw tonight in Game 2 Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, CBC, VERSUS, RDS).

"Maybe Devin (Setoguchi) wants to fight somebody," Thornton said laughing.

Well, it's not going to be Kesler, that's for sure.

"If (Thornton) wants to fight me, obviously I play him four times a year -- he can fight me next year," Kesler said after the Canucks' optional morning skate at Rogers Arena.

Kesler thinks Thornton was just "trying to be tough." He said he was "surprised he asked me" to fight.

Kesler admitted that maybe a few years ago he would have dropped the mitts with Thornton right then and there, but he's different now.

"I fought (Jarome) Iginla. I've fought a lot of tough guys, (Ian) Laperriere," he said. "I'm not scared of anybody out there. I'll fight anybody, but now is not the time."

Kesler's teammates are happy he didn't agree to Thornton's demands to fight. They would obviously rather have Kesler on the ice than sitting in the penalty box for five minutes.

"You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out," Alexandre Burrows said. "Obviously he's been so good for us and they wanted to get under his skin, but I really liked how he showed his composure. It would have been really easy for him to drop his gloves to make a point, but he's thinking about the team first and what really is important for this team to be successful. That's to win games, and having him on the ice."

Burrows said he took Thornton's antics prior to the opening faceoff as a sign that the stakes were higher now.

"That was mostly it, welcome to the Conference Finals," he said.

He said Kesler showed his growth by not fighting.

"I don't think he's smarter, but obviously he's more mature," Burrows said with a smile. "That's the kind of player we need him to be. We need him on the ice. We need him to be under people's skin by playing them hard and strong defensively. I'm sure that frustrates them more."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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