The last two seasons started to push him into the elite discussions in the first place, but an impressive playoff year and a runaway Selke Trophy victory cemented Ryan Kesler as more than just the Vancouver Canucks’ “other elite center.” Kesler did a little bit of everything during that postseason, especially during a star-making turn in the second round against the Nashville Predators.
That being said, things seemed a bit “off” for Kesler late in the San Jose Sharks series. That carried over to the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins, as Kesler seemed like he lost a step while some whispers of a lower-body injury floated around.
Perhaps those rumors were justified because Kesler underwent successful surgery on his hip today. The procedure (specifically, “hip labral surgery”) will sideline the two-way forward for 10-12 weeks, according to the team. USA Today’s Kevin Allen contextualizes the cost: he’ll miss training camp and probably some of the first games of the 2011-12 season.
My guess is that the cost won’t be too big, as long as the Canucks are cautious not to rush him back. Training camp won’t be as crucial for Kesler because the team is largely the same one he battled with in 2010-11 and it could be argued that he might benefit from a little extra rest.
It wouldn’t be shocking if the Canucks start next season a little slow after a rugged and ultimately heartbreaking journey that fell just short of the Stanley Cup. Kesler’s temporary absence adds some validity to that gut reaction. Then again, Vancouver dealt with a lot of hurdles and challenges last season, too, so they might be able to weather the next series of storms – even if they’re do-everything second center might be a little late to the party.
Flames keep showing life, Stars stumble once again
If you think the Dallas Stars are struggling because of defense more than anything else, then you’ll make sure to keep the video above “on file.”
There Kari Lehtonen was, helpless on a 2-on-0 rush for the Calgary Flames, which Johnny Gaudreau finished with calm and ease. For some, that goal is the symbol of the Stars’ season.
Either way, it was a painful goal in the Flames’ 2-1 win against the Stars. Calgary won despite Dallas firing 30 shots on goal versus the Flames’ 20.
One team climbing, the other stumbling
With that, the Flames are now on a four-game winning streak. Since falling to 5-10-1 on Nov. 12, the Flames have gone 9-3-1 in their last 13 games, pushing them to 14-13-2 overall. Gaudreau coming back is the icing on the cake after Chad Johnson really took charge of the Flames’ top job.
During a similar span, the Stars can’t seem to get it together. Dallas stood at 6-6-3 after beating the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 11. They’re now 10-11-6, essentially standing in place as a .500 team.
Dallas can’t seem to get momentum going, a thought that might have left them envious of the team on the other end of the ice on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, it wasn’t just about Jack Eichel vs. Connor McDavid. Instead, it was a clash between a fleet of young scorers who were in their prime, with the Buffalo Sabres coming up on top against the Edmonton Oilers.