NHL

McKenzie: Kesler delivers strong performance for Canucks

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Bob McKenzie
5/25/2011 2:47:33 AM
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Some thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Tuesday night:

Ryan Kesler's performance in Game 5 was the story of the hockey game.

When Kesler got injured late in the second period it looked as though he and the Vancouver Canucks were going south, both in the game and maybe the series, heading back to San Jose.

However, as the game wore on Kesler found another gear. Kesler found a way to get it done in that epic folklore of Stanley Cup playoff history and he will always be remembered for tipping the puck in, which sent the game to overtime.

Despite the injury, Kesler played the fourth most minutes of any forward on the Canucks, with only the two Sedins and Alex Burrows playeing more.

To get the tying goal and reestablish himself as the favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy at this point in time, that's pretty epic.

The Best They Could

I don't think you can say that the San Jose Sharks choked. People want to throw that label on it because of past failures, and they didn't get the job done, there is no question.

Were they better in this year's conference final than they were in last year's conference final? Absolutely they were, but they didn't get to where they wanted to get to, where they expected to get to, and they were eminently capable of doing it.

The Sharks had the kind of team that could of reached the final, but they simply ran out of gas as Joe Thornton was playing with a separated shoulder.

There are a lot of players on this team that are going to take flack for the way they played, including Dany Heatley, but you could tell this was an injured, banged up, battered hockey team that did the best they could. They forced it to overtime to try to get it back to San Jose.

Yes, they came up short, but at the end of the day I'm not sure it's one of those situations where you look at it and say now the Sharks have to blow their team up.

There may be some recriminations, but in the grand scheme of things, they got beat by a better team.

Power Outage

I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have got to get their power play going. The Lightning have feasted on the power play; it's the reason they beat Pittsburgh, and it's the reason why they eliminated Washington.

But in the crucial moments of Game 5, when they were outplaying the Boston Bruins, they didn't get it done. They had eight minutes of power play time between the 6:45 mark of the first period and the 4:07 mark of the second period. That's 17-plus minutes of game action; eight minutes - almost half that time - they were on the power play and they had nothing to show for it.

The Lightning usually win games because of their power play, not lose games. They're going to try and get this thing turned around and based on the way they've played throughout the playoffs you'd have to think that the power play could be one area that they would have a lot of improvement for Game 6.

Facing Elimination

I thought Dwayne Roloson would have - and maybe should have - started Game 5 but I also give the coach the benefit of the doubt because maybe this 41-year-old goaltender needed a little bit of a break, even though he didn't want to admit it.

Maybe fatigue is a factor, and Guy Boucher knew that he could put Mike Smith in for one game, and even if they lost he could come back and pitch a well-rested Roloson in an elimination scenario where he'll play the game of his life.

Ryan Kesler (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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