Shutdown Man in Van


On Sunday, The Province Jason Botchford wrote an article on Ryan Kesler, the new shutdown forward for the Canucks. 

Kesler has been tried everywhere on the forward’s depth chart. With the Sedins on the powerplay, with Naslund as a playmaker, and with the bottom line as a grinder. 

But it’s his latest role as shut-down centre which is opening eyes the widest, leaving many people believing that, for the first time this year, Kesler has found a home.

In the Canucks’ past five games, Kesler has been given the job of shutting down the opponents’ best players.

He’s been specifically matched against Marian Gaborik, Ales Hemsky, Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic twice. In those five games, those four offensive stars have combined for just three assists (one by Iginla and two from Sakic).

And that’s been a big factor to Kesler’s success. Basically, he’s the Vancouver version of Anaheim’s Samuel Pahlsson. 

If fans remember correctly, Pahlsson was a huge part of the Ducks’ Stanley Cup rout last season as he was able to prevent opposition top stars from scoring. Now Kesler has the same role.

“Any time you’re shutting down players like Sakic or Gaborik you’re doing something right, and he’s been doing a really good job for us,” Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said. “That’s as important as getting goals. It really is the role he’s best suited for. That’s his role.”

Recently, there were rumours flying around about a possible trade involving Kesler and Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter. Honestly, with how Kesler is playing right now, it wouldn’t be a smart trade for Vancouver. The new third line of Kesler, Isbister, and Pyatt not only prevents goals-scored-against, it also provides energy, offensive threat, and a combination of both size and speed.

Botchford gives a great example of Kesler’s role so far.

The job Kesler did on Gaborik Friday was textbook. He neutralized the talented speedster, keeping him away from the puck most of the night, helping to limit him to just two shots on net. He agitated Gaborik, goading him into taking a bad penalty to end the second period.

And by the end of the game, Kesler’s line had a goal and Gaborik had nothing. 

That’s been part of the reason why Vancouver has been 5-0-1 in their past six games. If Kesler continues to play like the past few games, the Canucks are going to be a tough team to play against for opposing stars. 

For a complete read of Jason Botchford’s article, click here.


3 Responses

  1. Pft. There’ve been trade rumours around Kesler for so long now that I don’t care to pay them any heed. It’s kind of like Antropov in Toronto — he was supposed to go for about 5 years in a row. Now look at where he is!

    Kesler will have his day, and the Canucks have been very patient with him. If he can emerge as a great two-way threat, it’ll be perfect for the club he’s on! Naslund and Morrison, too, have been solid defensively while chipping in some points. That’s a pretty good roster if you consider it — three lines that can score some and hold their own defensively? Won’t give you many 6-2 wins (har har) but will definitely have you winning plenty!

  2. Not to mention that when our defense is healthy, it’ll look like this:


    Oh, and there’s Luongo in net.

    The Canucks are looking very good right now, and let’s hope they keep up this pace. Kesler is a big reason, along -as you said- the defensive contributions by our forwards.

    Hosea C

  3. Heh, as I also said, I think that defensive roster is the number one reason why Kesler won’t be traded.

    All of those guys have looked solid. Before the season I figured they would trade someone, but now that they have their depth players keeping pace, I see it as inevitable. Tons of teams would love an Ohlund or a Salo. We’ll see what type of complimentary player they can get for one of them!

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