Ryan Kesler has turned a huge corner. The feisty Canucks power forward had already been a good and important player for several years, but this season, and in these playoffs, Kesler has taken things to another level and has become a bonafide superstar on a real good team.
The type of player Kesler is – big, strong, nasty, with both a scoring and checking touch, is the type all teams dream of having. Guys like this don’t come along often, and when they do, you see how they can elevate an already good team. Imagine – tough, nasty, and 41 goals this season to boot. A guy who plays at both ends of the ice. A guy who puts on a hard hat and work boots and scores with the best of them.
Coach’s must drool. And Habs fans should drool. Imagine Kesler in the Canadiens lineup. Or imagine someone similar in the Canadiens lineup.
If they’re rare, it doesn’t mean they’re extinct, and the Montreal Canadiens just might have a Ryan Kesler-type player all their own. It’s just not quite time yet.
Max Pacioretty knows how to score, and knows how to grind it out when things need grinding. He’s several years younger than Kesler (22 to 26), and is of similar size – Kesler is 6’2, 195 pounds while Max is 6’1, 203 pounds. Kesler didn’t set the world on fire in his early years with the Canucks, he’s been a Vancouverite for just over seven seasons, while Max has managed only bits of three seasons in Montreal and hasn’t yet settled in to be the player we need him to be.
Of course, there was that moment in time when Max was almost killed by a Boston behemoth, so his progress has been stuck in neutral for awhile. But temporary setbacks are only that – temporary. We expect our guy to come back in a big way. And we expect him to come back with a burr up his ass.
Pacioretty has what it takes to be a player like Kesler, and this has to make Habs fans excited. If Max can turn it up a notch, think of how the dynamics of the team would change. A big, crashing power forward helping out with the scoring. Please pass the valium.
If you’ve been watching the Canucks in the playoffs or checked them out in the regular season, you’ve seen just how important number 17 is to his team. The Sedin’s are smooth and dangerous with the puck, but it’s Kesler who never hesitates to battle in heavy traffic, snarling and being downright nasty, playing with a swagger, driving other teams to drink, and as the icing on the cake – scoring and scoring often.
This is what Montreal needs. A player who dives in and comes out bloody, sweaty, sore, and with the puck. A guy opposing players hate to play against. A guy with obvious over-the-top determination. And a guy with hands of gold.
Max needs a couple of full seasons under his belt before he can be expected to be a game-breaker. But he was on his way when THE INCIDENT happened and it’s now back to square one again. But he’s the guy we need big things from, beginning next season, and if he can be a player similar to Ryan Kesler, we’ve got a beauty on our hands.
It really is something to look forward to.