Support comes from beneath. It stabilizes the main structure. It is the foundation on which outstanding achievements are made possible.
For the Vancouver Canucks, that support is the tireless playoff performance of Ryan Kesler. Bloodied and bruised, number seventeen is currently leading the NHL in playoff points, but most nights it is his work away from the net that is earning him respect around the league.
Killing penalties, winning faceoff’s and banging the boards, Kesler is giving it all this post-season. He is supporting a team whose top players (Daniel and Henrik) have mysteriously disappeared. He has stitches across his lip from an errant puck in Game Five; when asked if he wanted anesthesia for the wound, he refused it, saying it would only slow him down.
His fearless play and defensive stamina earned him over twenty-one minutes of ice time in Game Six against the Nashville Predators. Setting up both goals, Kesler earned the praises of Predator Coach Barry Trotz: “As I said when I was going by him, if he doesn’t play that way we’re probably going to Game 7 and we might win the series, but he played to a level that few people can reach in a series.”
Kesler, in a post-game interview with Scott Oake of the CBC, claimed that Trotz’s comments were humbling.
Now the assistant captain is carrying the Canucks into the Western Conference Finals, a feat managed only three times by the franchise.
Without him, the Canucks might be counting the clubs in their golf bag. With him they are the most powerful team in the NHL, destined to play for a chance at the Stanley Cup.
Lead on Kesler. You have a whole city on your shoulders.