Kesler has ‘upped’ his game in the playoffs

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It’s been almost 11 full months since the Vancouver Canucks traded Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks in a draft day blockbuster.

The Ducks are winning this trade.

The Canucks had a rebound season but it ended in disappointment with a first-round playoff loss to Calgary. The Ducks and the 30-year-old Kesler are in the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

With four wins in this round, the Ducks would advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Should that happen, it would be Kesler’s second trip to the championship series in five years.

And he’s been a big part of the Ducks’ success this post-season, too.

From the Orange County Register:

Twenty goals and 27 assists were welcomed and appreciated over the 82-game schedule, but not the primary reason why Murray kept talking to Vancouver about acquiring him. He’s got four goals and five assists in the Ducks’ playoff games, but it’s more than that.

Kesler has been dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 63.7 percent of his draws. He’s an essential part of a penalty-killing unit that’s allowed only four power-play goals. And each of his scores has made a difference.

“There’s been a lot of moments like that,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Those are the things that probably stand out more for me than anybody scoring three goals or getting booed or any of those things.

“So far, what I’ve seen, he’s upped his game.”