Every Goal, 2011-12: Ryan Kesler, part two

The annual Every Goal series will run Monday to Thursday through July and August, remembering every goal scored by the Canucks, player by player. Today, we take a second look at Ryan “Astro Boy″ Kesler.

Ryan Kesler seems like he should be a high-end goalscorer, given the multiple ways he’s capable of scoring goals. He’s dangerous off the rush with his speed, he has a heavy, accurate wristshot, he can one-time the puck effectively, and he’s strong in front of the net for tips and rebounds. With that kind of versatility, it seems like he should be a consistent 30-goal scorer.

Unfortunately, Kesler has the tendency to rely too heavily on one trick – a wristshot from the right faceoff circle off the rush – and, as a result, is a tad too predictable. It seems that he doesn’t always recognize when the situation does not favour that type of play, leading to the infamous comment from Alain Vigneault that he needs to “use his teammates more.” Kesler has always been a shoot-first kind of guy, but sometimes he needs to use that reputation to his advantage by passing when the opposition least expects it.

It will be interesting to see how Kesler’s latest surgery and postponed offseason training will affect him, but it seems likely that he will once again score around 20 goals, even if he misses the first two months of the season. It’s also likely that they will look something like these 11 goals.

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12 | January 10 vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Poor Mason Raymond. Even after a nifty move at the line and a nice pass from Cody Hodgson, Raymond can’t score. Fortunately, Kesler never stops skating after banking the puck off the boards and out in the defensive zone, getting to the Lightning crease just in time to jam the rebound in before the end of the period.

13 | January 21 vs San Jose Sharks

This, my friends, is a beautiful goal. Chris Higgins goes hard to the net on a 2-on-1, forcing the defenceman to take away the pass. Like a 90-year-old on the highway, Kesler doesn’t pass. Niemi didn’t have a hope of stopping Kesler, who goes roof after a quick deke.

14 | January 31 vs Chicago Blackhawks

Here’s a demonstration of what Kesler can do with his wristshot when he gets a bit of space. A terrible turnover by Nick Leddy to Alex Edler leads to Kesler alone in the slot. Duncan Keith tries to get his stick on the shot, but only serves to deflect the puck past the hapless Corey Crawford. He had no haps that day. None at all.

15 | February 2 vs Detroit Red Wings

David Booth’s single-minded determination to bring the puck to the net is at once his greatest strength and his most glaring weakness. Here, however, it’s just impressive. There are three Red Wings players surrounding him, but Booth just takes the most direct route to the front of the net, allowing Kesler to clean up the rebound.

16 | February 4 vs Colorado Avalanche

This one-timer is perfectly set up by Edler, who I sincerely hope will be setting up Jason Garrison next season for similar bombs from the point. Kesler’s shot is a rocket, but also note Booth’s hard work to get to a loose puck first and feed it to Edler at the point.

17 | February 7 vs Nashville Predators

The right faceoff circle is one of Kesler’s favourite spots to shoot from. It’s his Texas School Book Depository, if you will. Burrows sets him up nicely for the snapshot one-timer that beats Rinne up high.

18 | February 9 vs Minnesota Wild

Hey look, an empty net with Kesler behind the defence. I wonder what the result will be? It’s worth noting that this capped off a 5-game goal streak and a 7-game point streak, both the longest of the season for Kesler.

19 | February 26 vs Dallas Stars

Sometimes Kesler’s go-to move that I mentioned in the introduction works. This is one of those times. I like the choice to shoot here, not just because it’s a great shot that beats Lehtonen, but because Higgins is heading to the net unimpeded, where he will be able to pick up any potential rebounds. Also note how Burrows is setting himself up for a wide open one-timer on the right-hand side. That guy’s got good instincts.

20 | March 8 vs Winnipeg Jets

Burrows does the same thing on this goal, stepping off his defender for a potential one-timer, but Kesler is thinking shot as soon as the puck deflects to him off the referee. His shot knuckleballs off Tobias Enstrom’s stick, fluttering through Ondrei Pavelec’s five-hole.

21 | March 10 vs Montreal Canadiens

The passing from the American Express line on this goal is phenomenal, from Kesler’s backhand touch pass to Booth as he motors out of the defensive zone, to the give-and-go between Booth and Higgins that allows Booth to really ramp up his speed through the neutral zone, to the delicate cross-ice feed to Kesler after Booth draws both defenders to him. Kesler then treats Carey Price like a shooter tutor.

22 | March 14 vs Phoenix Coyotes

Kesler’s final goal of the season is scored from the same place he scored his first of the season. It also happens to be a one-timer on the powerplay off a saucer pass from a Sedin. On this powerplay, Kesler is playing Christian Ehrhoff’s former role as the powerplay rover and it works perfectly, opening up a seam in the Coyotes’ penalty kill that otherwise wouldn’t have appeared.

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1 Comment

  1. Fruzenius
    August 8, 2012

    I love watching Kes play, he’s so explosive and fiery. Granted sometimes he might take it a bit far, but I think at that level you need to do what you can to compete for the big prize. Looking forward to watching him once he’s 110%

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