In scoring twice to lift the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 overtime win (and a 2-1 series lead) over the Nashville Predators last night, centre Ryan Kesler advanced his case for a Conn Smythe Trophy win.
Best Player has already gone on record as predicting this honour for Kesler. He has excelled this year at both ends of the ice, scoring consistently while filling the role of shut-down centre matched against the likes of Crosby, Thornton, and Briere. His style of play is exactly what’s needed to win a Cup, and last night, his goals and overall dominance inspired some of his less visibly motivated teammates (hello, Henrik & Daniel) to help defeat the defence-first Preds.
In a nice piece in The Globe & Mail, Matthew Sekeres includes a quote from Kesler that typifies the mental edge of a future playoff MVP. Addressing his recent lack of scoring, Kesler says “I didn’t lack any confidence. I never thought for once that I couldn’t score. It was one of those things where you do all the right things, and you worry about the shifts that you don’t score. I didn’t change my game at all tonight…and I finally got the results.”
Unlike the Sedins, Kesler doesn’t need to score to contribute hugely in a victory. But last night, with two goals, he was the difference.