Back in January, Canucks center Ryan Kesler got a bit snippy after his coach, Alain Vigneault, told reporters the Selke Trophy winner needed to “use the players around him a bit more.” (Which was a nice way of telling him to stop being such a puck hog.)
“I don’t know what [Vigneault] means by that,” Kesler said. “If he wants to say that, he can come to me and talk to me about it.”
Well, perhaps Vigneault did talk to him, because Kesler admits today that sharing the puck more has helped his game.
“Using my wingers has allowed my game to be more complete and improve my vision,” he told The Province. “The last couple of months it’s been there and it’s been solid.”
Of course, Kesler’s numbers – one assist in his last 13 games – appear to belie his newfound commitment to passing. And certainly there remain times he could distribute the puck instead of taking it himself or forcing a shot. But hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem.
Oh, and if his regular winger, David Booth, could capitalize on the odd brilliant scoring chance, that would help, too.
Kesler remains one of the premier shutdown forwards in hockey, and to be fair he’s still feeling the effects of offseason hip surgery.
However, the Canucks will need more offensively out of their second-line center in the playoffs, particularly five on five. So far only 28 of his 48 totals points have have come at even strength, ranking him seventh on the team in that category.