The Anaheim Ducks Have Plenty to be Thankful For This Season

3 of 6

Nov 20, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Kesler (17) skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

2. Strong Second Line

The next area the Ducks should be very thankful for is finally having a true second line center. The addition of Ryan Kesler has been tremendous for the Ducks this year. After a brutal exit to the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs, the Ducks felt that they needed to upgrade down the middle to truly have a chance at competing for a championship. The team acquired Kesler from the Vancouver Canucks, and he showed the Ducks exactly why they acquired him in the Ducks’ first game against the Kings this season. On the NBC Sports Network’s “Wednesday Rivalry Night” segment on November 12th, Kesler was instrumental in leading a comeback in the Ducks’ early statement game of the season. In that game, the Ducks were without leading goal scorer Corey Perry and veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin, so they needed a boost from the rest of the players in their lineup. Kesler provided that boost and even more, playing his best game of the season. He scored two goals and an assist while winning 15 of 27 faceoffs (55.6%).

While that was the best individual performance for Kesler with the Ducks, Anaheim should be thankful for more than just that one game. Kesler has been consistent all year long for the Ducks, sporting a Corsi For Percentage (CF%) of 52.44% during 5-on-5 play. Kesler has also won 55.7% of his faceoffs, and his 474 faceoffs taken are the sixth most in the NHL. Kesler has been massive on both special teams units, takes key faceoffs, controls pace of play at even strength, and elevates his game on the biggest stage. His presence gives the Ducks another legitimate top-six forward and the players who have played limited minutes with Kesler (Jakob Silfverberg, Kyle Palmieri, Patrick Maroon, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Emerson Etem) have been impressive. The Ducks wanted to improve in the offseason, so they went and acquired Kesler. With him, the Ducks are a considerably better team than they were a season ago.