Conference Semifinals – Day 12

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver CanucksVancouver vs. Nashville – Thank goodness for Ryan Kesler, because who knows where the Canucks would be now if it weren’t for him. Prior to last nights game, Kesler had already picked up nine points in the series. Kesler’s hot streak continued last night, early in the first period, when his strong play resulted in a turnover. After sending the puck back out in front of the net, Mason Raymond made a slick forehand to backhand move on Pekka Rinne and slid the puck into the net. Less than two minutes later, after a questionable diving call on Jordin Tootoo, Daniel Sedin buried a rebound off a Ryan Kesler shot. The power-play goal would be Sedin’s sixth of the playoffs, and give the Canucks an early 2-0 lead less than ten minutes into the first period.

David Legwand jump-started the Predators early in the second with a shot from just behind the goal line. The puck bounced off Roberto Luongo and barely squeezed over the goal line. The play would end up being reviewed, but instant replay showed the puck did cross the line. Legwand’s goal would be the only one in the second period, and Nashville still trailed 2-1.

The third period featured a lot of back and forth play, with the Canucks out playing Nashville most of the way. Pekka Rinne continued to make big saves and hold his squad within a single goal. After pulling their goalie late in the third, Nashville was almost scored on multiple times, but each shot missed the goal. The Preds came back down with one final effort, but their two attempts from the point were both blocked. Vancouver sneaks by with the 2-1 victory and a 4-2 series win over the Nashville Predators.

Ryan Kesler was, without a doubt, the number one star for this entire series. He played out of his mind, and without Kesler, this series could have ended in favor of the Preds. Kesler finishes the series with points in the final five games. He only failed to register a point in game one. In those five games, he picks up 5 goals and 6 assist for 11 total points. Even more ridiculous is the fact that the Canucks only scored 14 goals in the entire series. Kesler had a hand in 11 out of 14 goals. It turns out this team has good depth beyond the Sedin twins, and if they are to be knocked off in the playoffs, someone will have to stop not only Henrik and Daniel Sedin, but Ryan Kesler as well.

You have to give the Nashville Predators a lot of respect though. They battled hard and beat a tough Anaheim Ducks team in the first round, and really played outstanding hockey against the Canucks. Barry Trotz deserves a lot of credit too, as year after year he leads an overlooked squad into the playoffs, this year taking them to the second round. Joel Ward and David Legwand were really good as well. Legwand finished his season strong, and carried that into the playoffs. Joel Ward, on the other hand, really stepped his game up and became an impact player in the post-season.

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