Ryan Kesler Has Been Everything the Anaheim Ducks Wanted, And More

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Nov 12, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) shoots the puck past Los Angeles Kings goal

Jonathan Quick

(32) during a shootout at Honda Center. The Ducks defeated the Kings 6-5 in shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. Perseverance

The lasting image of the Ducks in the past two seasons has been how the team exited the postseason. In 2013, the Ducks went away with a whimper to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 in the 1st round, with the team playing a rather poor game. In 2014, the Ducks were completely and systematically dismantled by the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the 2nd round, with the team playing timid and shrinking from the moment when the team faced adversity in those games. In both of those Game 7’s, the Ducks never held a lead and seemed afraid of the moment.

On Wednesday, the Ducks got their first chance at redemption against the Kings, facing them for the first time since that nightmarish Game 7. The Ducks fell into a 2-0 deficit, despite outplaying the Kings for a good portion of the game. It seemed that the Ducks would suffer another loss to the Kings, and the team would realize that it still had a lot of progress to make before being on the level of one of the elite teams in the NHL.

Instead, Kesler led the charge, doing everything humanly possible to keep the Ducks in the game. He assisted on Silfverberg’s first goal to cut the deficit to 3-2, then tied the game at three with a goal of his own. He scored his second on a terrific wrap-around to cut the deficit to 5-4 and then netted the shootout winner past Jonathan Quick. He won 15 of 27 faceoffs, laid eight hits, got three takeaways, played over 21 minutes, finished with a +3 rating, and controlled 67.86% of the shot attempts at 5-on-5 play. In a transcendent effort, Kesler played a spectacular game, and the Ducks overcame three multi-goal deficits to defeat the Kings 6-5 in the shootout.

The Ducks acquired Kesler because they wanted to match the Kings, and they felt his skillset could give them the best chance to maybe change the result of one of the four games they lost last May. Wednesday’s game was there for the team to see exactly why they acquired Kesler in the first place, and he delivered in the biggest way. He rose on the biggest stage and refused to quit, nor did he let his teammates quit either. Unlike Game 7, the Ducks dictated play and were fearless, engaging on the forecheck, throwing the body, and aggressively shooting the puck.

Kesler’s perseverance and willpower were major reasons why the Ducks acquired him. Yes, he can make an impact on the scoresheet, but he has intangible characteristics that cannot be measured. The Ducks saw that firsthand, and they should have confidence going forward that with him, they can win more often than not, and that they will not have to worry about him shrinking on the big stage.