If there's a great time for Ryan Kesler to start producing that time would be Sunday at 6:00PST at the Honda Center. All eyes will be on #17 in black and orange as he skates FOR THE FIRST TIME against his former team, the Vancouver Canucks, in white and blue. Anaheim sent Nick Bonino and Luca Sbisa, in addition to first and third round picks in the 2014 NHL Draft. The question everyone will have in mind as they come into the Honda Center come Sunday night is: So who actually won the Anaheim-Vancouver Ryan Kesler trade?
Initially, it was fairly certain that Anaheim came out on top. But as we now look back on the first month of the hockey season, on paper, it looks like Vancouver was payed in full with the acquisition of Bonino. Bones (as of writing, before Vancouver @ Los Angeles) has 7 goals and 5 assists. Luca Sbisa has tallied 2 goals and 1 assist after the first month of hockey. Ryan Kesler has 3 goals and 7 assists.
The Anaheim Ducks have recently fallen in hard times in overtime. They will be coming off a shootout loss to the
Arizona Phoenix Coyotes and the New York Islanders. The Vancouver Canucks may be coming into Sunday's game a bit beat up and weary after playing the Los Angeles Kings the night before. As of Saturday, the Canucks are two points behind the division leading Ducks.
Someone call the exterminator, because both the flu bug and the injury has entered the Ducks locker room.
Defenseman Francois Beauchemin is the latest victim to have fallen to the flu. While Ryan Getzlaf seems to have recovered enough to play in Friday night's game, Corey Perry is apparently still exhibiting enough flu-like symptoms to be sitting out Sunday's game. (That must be a hell of a flu.)
But in addition to the flu-bitten, we have the injury-bitten. The blue line is in complete shambles. Add Cam Fowler to being questionable for Sunday's game against Vancouver as he is listed day-to-day with an lower body injury after exiting early from Friday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. [Ed. Note: Gif of the hit that took Cam out here, thanks to the wonderful Stephanie Vail at Gif Goldmine -CK] Bryan Allen may be back, but Ben Lovejoy and Mark Fistric are still out. And of course we cannot fail to mention John Gibson a long way from returning to backup Frederik Andersen.
While the Ducks are suffering up and down the line, the Vancouver Canucks are high-flying and in good health. Currently, only tough guy Tom Sestito sits with a day-to-day lower body injury. Goaltender Ryan Miller just notched his league leading 10th win against the San Jose Sharks and is riding a 7 game win streak (sound familiar?).
What Can We Learn From This Game?:
Besides gauging the outcome the whole Anaheim-Vancouver Kesler trade, we go to the classic hockey cliché of "responding to adversity" and what a time of adversity it is. If our blue line didn't look so grim before, the possibility of not seeing Beauchemin OR Fowler is our worst nightmare coming true. Couple that with the absence of the team's goal leader Corey Perry....
As much as we all like to make fun of Vancouver, especially after last season's team meltdown against the Ducks (9-1 loss), they are not the same team. The Sedins are healthy, Radim Vrbata has proved to be a great acquisition, and Bonino has fit in seemlessly into the line-up. On top of all that, Ryan Miller's signing has only bought back Vancouver's chances of chasing the California teams. Going back to the 2010-11 season Miller has a record of 10-1 against the three California teams, if only Kyle Palmieri was healthy and they played in the Metro division it could be balanced out.
As we have said many times before that the injuries will force the Ducks shore up defensively. Well, if our worst nightmare does end up becoming reality Sunday night, then the Ducks better switch gears and turn back on the offense. As much as we'd all like to hand out the advice of "playing shut down defense" against the Canucks, the Ducks have the firepower, speed and skill to simply stifle their opponents with goals. But to this point, they cannot just shoot to shoot, they need to shoot to score. While the Ducks dominated large parts of the game against the Coyotes, the inability to aim towards the net killed all open opportunities. A line-up without Corey Perry gives other guys like Jakob Silfverberg, Matt Beleskey, and Pat Maroon to step up and start taking advantage of the scoring chances...also, Ryan Kesler, you are welcome to score any time of your convenience please. Kesler has been awesome--face-offs, powerplays, and just being that 2C Anaheim's been missing all along. At the same time, something's gotta give and the Ducks made the trade with the hope that he would contribute a bit more to the scoring. So by all means Kes, this is your night to begin jamming those pucks behind Ryan Miller.
Luca Sbisa comes back into the Honda Center and earns a positive in the +/- column.