While some people, myself included, had been getting on Ryan Kesler and the Sedin twins for not scoring, a funny thing happened. Both Henrik and Kesler got a goal but Henrik’s was an empty netter.
Kesler, on the other hand, decided to shut up all his doubters and score three goals in the past two games and had back-to-back three point games in Games 3 and 4 against the Nashville Predators leading the Canucks to a 3-1 series lead.
Those were his first back-to-back three point games since February of 2009. It’s safe to say that Kesler’s been on a little bit of a hot streak as of late. The three goals he’s scored in these playoffs have matched his career playoff goal output he had in his previous 32 playoff contests.
While Henrik did put up three points of his own in Game 4 it’s been Kesler and Roberto Luongo’s stellar goaltending as the main reasons why the series is 3-1 for Vancouver. Kesler’s been doing everything in his power to make sure the Canucks win while the Sedins haven’t really been showing up this series. Who knows what the series would be at if Kesler wasn’t playing as well as he has been.
It begs the question, is Kesler in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy? Sure, it’s only the second round of the playoffs and anything can happen between now and the Stanley Cup Finals but it’s a question worth asking.
Let’s take a look at some things in his favour:
-11 points scored putting him in the top 5 in playoff scoring
-Top 5 in hits
-Held Jonathan Toews, last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner, to only 1 goal in 7 games during the first round
That’s a pretty complete all-around game right there not to mention he’s come up with key plays, be they drawing a game changing penalty or scoring a game winning goal.
He might not have been able to put the puck past Blackhawks’ rookie goalie Corey Crawford but he’s found his touch against the Predators, a very heavy defense oriented team. It doesn’t matter that it took him some time to find his 40-goal scoring form as he’s got it now and that’s key since the Sedins haven’t been able to be much of a factor against the Predators.
If Kesler keeps it up and keeps leading and willing the Canucks to victory his candidacy for the Conn Smythe Trophy might need to be taken more seriously.