Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a goal. Cassie Campbell suggests he's one of the best in the league. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
I was really excited to sit down and watch the Philadelphia Flyers when they visited the Vancouver Canucks over the holiday season.
I mean, they are two of the strongest teams when it comes to depth at centre and I was curious to see how the two teams would match up.
The Flyers probably have the most depth at that position when you see the list of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux and Blair Betts. It's hard to imagine some of these players don't play centre on a regular basis because they have so much depth.
With Jordan Staal back in Pittsburgh you can add the Penguins to the list of teams who have depth down the middle, but the Vancouver Canucks are showing that this year they can match up with any team.
The man on a mission this year is Ryan Kesler of the Canucks. There is no doubt he recognizes he's facing a great opportunity with the Canucks to win a Stanley Cup.
Early in his career I thought he would be a solid third line two-way centre, but he's turned into the Canucks best centre on some nights and one who can play against the other team's best line while also providing some much needed offence to compliment the Sedins.
He's much more than what I thought he would turn out to be. He's also showing that Bob Clarke knew what he was doing when he went after the centreman with an offer sheet.
Kesler took off statistically with the Canucks in the 2008-09 season and it is no coincidence that that was the time that Mats Sundin arrived to play half the season. Kesler found himself as a linemate with the Big Swede.
In fact, Kesler identified the arrival of Sundin as an important moment in the development of his confidence.
"I give a lot of credit to Mats for my success lately as watching him everyday and the confidence he had was a source of inspiration," stated Kesler.
One could say that the inspiration to WIN also must have taken effect. Despite personal success Sundin was never able to win a Cup even though he had such great numbers. This, without a doubt, gave Kesler the perspective that the chance to win a Cup only comes around once in a while and this year is a huge opportunity for him and his teammates to do something special.
Like most players he would rather be a major factor than looking back down the road saying what if!
The Winter Classic
The Pittsburgh bench was caught sleeping late in the game during the Winter Classic as Marc-Andre Fleury came to the bench and no player went on for the extra attacker until about 10 seconds later.
It was a little bit strange to see, especially when Dan Bylsma is known as a thorough and very good communicator as a coach and also the fact that the entire bench should have known that Sidney Crosby was the guy to go over the boards.
However, the strangest thing for me was to see that late in the game Fleury had to travel the full distance of the ice to get to his bench.
A rule that gets the teams to change ends half way through the third so that no team has an advantage due to the elements is good.
Why not start the teams at the opposite ends of their benches and finish the game at the end closer to their benches in the third? This slight adjustment will help the team that is down late in a game to pull their goalie and also better simulates a regular game played indoors.
Just a thought! Comments?
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