Many of the Anaheim Ducks have reached important career milestones, and Ryan Kesler will play in his 1,000th NHL game tonight against the Arizona Coyotes.
Prior to the 2018-19 season, many people didn’t consider the Arizona Coyotes to be a contending team. Nevertheless, here they are, with just a few games left in the regular season, and one more win will thrust them back into a wild-card spot. To gain those two points, they have to defeat the Anaheim Ducks.
A few weeks ago, it would have been considered a piece of cake for any team to take home the win after a night of hockey against the Anaheim Ducks. However, lately, they’ve come out onto the ice an entirely different team.
With a wild-card spot on the line, the Arizona Coyotes have a lot to prove from the moment the puck drops. Although the Anaheim Ducks playoff dreams are nothing but a distant thought at this point in the season, there is a lot riding on tonight’s game for them as well. While a loss would certainly help the “tank”, Ryan Kesler will play his 1,000th career NHL game and a win could be a much-needed boost for the struggling center.
How to Enjoy Tonight’s Game
Game 67: Anaheim Ducks vs Arizona Coyotes
Season Record: 25-32-9
Location: Gila River Arena — Pheonix Arizona
Time: 6:00 pm PST
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 830
Anaheim Ducks News: The Anaheim Ducks have signed Simon Benoit to a three-year entry-level contract.
Arizona Coyotes Injuries: Dave Bolland (Back), Kyle Capobianco (Lower Body), Jason Demers (Knee), Michael Grabner (Eye), Antti Raanta (Lower Body), Nick Schmaltz (Lower Body), Derek Stepan (Lower Body)
Ryan Kesler’s 1,000th NHL Game
It is no secret that 99% of Ducks Nation is on board the tank train, but there are many of us who don’t actually want the Anaheim Ducks to lose all of their games, just enough to snag a decent draft pick. Tonight is one of those nights where it would be great to see them take down the Desert Dogs during Ryan Kesler’s 1,000th career NHL game.
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While it is incredible that any NHL player reaches the 1,000 game benchmark, the path that Ryan Kesler took to get to this game did not come so easily. 1,000 games is a reminder to him, as well as Ducks Nation, of everything he’s been through over the past few seasons and what he’s done to bounce back from that.
Many of us were skeptical as to whether or not he would actually reach this milestone during the 2018-19 season or at all. Rumors will often take flight before they have any merit, and it had been suggested several times prior to the season that he would not be returning until 2019-20. In typical Ryan Kesler fashion, he proved everyone wrong by returning in mid-October, against this same team, the Arizona Coyotes.
It took months of hard work and grueling rehabilitation to get his body to a place where he could go back to playing the game that he loves. Even now, his body is not what it used to be. Only remnants of the old Ryan Kesler remain. His hip is a constant reminder that he will never again be the physical, gritty, and skillful player he was in the days of his youth.
We do not have an insiders perspective as to everything he’s gone through, but it is safe to say there were probably a lot of frustrations, tears, and setbacks along the way. Yet, he has not allowed his injuries to define him. Kesler has pushed himself beyond his limits, both physically and mentally, to get back on the ice. Not only for himself but for all of Ducks Nation.
To many people, 1,000 is just another number. However, those of us who are avid hockey fans, we know better. This milestone is more than just another game for Kesler. It is symbolic of all of his dedication, strength, integrity, humility, and hard work.
Kesler may no longer be the player he once was, but he has given the Anaheim Ducks his all, to the point of almost falling apart. A win tonight would be a humbling experience for both him, his teammates, and his fans.
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