Watching these goals all in a row is sort of awesome. You can see patterns and tendencies you might have otherwise missed. For instance: most people know Kesler is money from the half wall, but you might not know how prolific a power play producer he actually is. In watching these clips, I discovered that not only were half of his goals last season were scored on the power play, but for much of the season, he was scoring 2/3 of his goals with the man advantage. See for yourself.
1. Oct. 7 vs. the Montreal Canadiens
Kesler's first goal of the season comes on a breakaway. Alex Edler finds him breaking into the offensive zone between the Montreal defenders. He fights off a hook, make a couple of dekes, and slides the puck home forehand. His speed is really on display here, as the play happens in seconds flat.
2. Oct. 11 vs. the Dallas Stars
Get ready to see this exact same play a few times. On the powerplay, Kesler comes off the wall just above the faceoff circle with the puck on his forehand, and wrists it past Turco. This is his go-to move on the powerplay, and it's what made that second unit really dangerous. Not since Naslund have we had a player who was such a threat to score from there.
3. Oct. 17 vs. the Minnesota Wild
This is a funny one, as Kesler calls for the puck at the side of the net, on his forehand, then swivels around and banks it in, effectively from behind the net. Why so strange? He called for it. Why he thought he could score from there is beyond me, but he did. I guess that's why he's Ryan Kesler and I'm a guy planning to spend an hour on Youtube writing an article about him.
4. Oct. 14 vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs
It didn't take long to see this play again, did it? I told you so. This time, Kesler comes down from the point with speed, but it's the same basic shot. What's exciting is that you can see here Kesler's confidence with this play. As soon as he gets the puck he knows where he's going, because he knows he's money from there.
5. Nov. 1 vs. the Colorado Avalanche (at 1:06 of clip)
Nobody goes after rebounds with more determination than Ryan Kesler, and here he gets just enough of a loose puck that gets behind everybody, including Craig Anderson.
6. Dec. 8 vs. the Nashville Predators
Here, Kesler is the beneficiary of some superb Sedin passing on a 5-on-3. All he has to do is tap the puck in and receive a Shea Weber high-stick to the face. He does both to perfection. It's a shame that he's in so much pain when he scores, by the way, otherwise he might be happier to have scored his first goal in over a month. The Sedins are good for helping people who haven't scored in awhile. I refer here to Wade Brookbank, who once had a multi-goal night as a result of wizardous Sedinerie. Note: I just invented a new tag. Skeeter, Qris, use it often. Hopefully more often than necroequinicide.
7. Dec. 12 vs. the Minnesota Wild
This is a powerplay goal and you'll never guess how Kesler scores it. If you said just off the right boards, above the faceoff dot with a wrist shot, you guessed correctly. That's three of his first seven goals on the season scored the exact same way.
8. Dec. 14 vs. the Los Angeles Kings
Kesler scores on a rebound after some pressure in the offensive zone. The interesting thing about this one? Pay close attention to the nice job Shane O'Brien does shielding the puck and making the back pass that sets up the goal. Kesler is Johnny Canuck on the spot and he makes the most of the big rebound he's given.
9. Dec. 18 vs. the Washington Capitals
Here's a funny one. Kesler gets in on a breakaway after the puck takes its first funny bounce and skips over the defender's stick. In alone, he gets hauled down, and when Schultz tries to kick the puck to his stick and take control of it, he kicks it in instead.
10. Dec. 26 vs. the Edmonton Oilers
The first power play goal Kesler scored last season without wristing it. Here he makes a beautiful tip on an absolutely perfect Alex Edler point shot. To those of you who think the Canucks don't have a power play quarterback: Edler can do it. Between the Raymond highlights and these ones, you can see that he's a major reason the Canucks had power play success last season.
11. Jan. 2 vs. the Dallas Stars
Mason Raymond brings the puck in, then puts a perfect pass to Kesler, who has somehow gotten to a prime shooting spot, almost in the direct center of the offensive zone. He receives the pass and shoots it in about a millisecond, and it goes off the post and in. Part of me wonders if Raymond's choice to pass the puck instead of going around the boards with it is what catches everyone off guard here. Either way, it's a beautiful shot. It's worth noting that the line of Kesler, Raymond and Samuelsson (next in this series) are all talented snipers, and these highlights underline that.
12. Jan. 13 vs. the Minnesota Wild
Another power play goal, this time on a rebound from a Mason Raymond slap shot. Kesler is good at finding the puck in scrambles and it's worth noting that, between this goal and the last one, you can see his hands are quick. It's a far cry from the Kesler of his early career who the fans criticized for having hands of stone. Last year's Kesler had lightning fast hands.
13. Jan. 16 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins
Yet another power play goal on a tip-in, this time on a Mason Raymond wrist shot. I think it's safe to say that Kesler and Raymond's excellent seasons were a direct result of being on the ice together. I know Vigneault likes to work with pairs that have chemistry, and we can rest assured that the pair our second line is built around is these two guys. Just a thought: I really hope Jordan Schroeder gets a chance to skate with them at some point; a playmaking speedster might add an incredible dynamic, especially since Samuelsson is also a shooter.
14. Feb. 2 vs. the Montreal Canadiens
Kesler's power play goals tend to come in two forms: either he comes off the wall and snipes it, or he scores a garbage goal right around the net. People often forget that Kesler's actually fairly big and he makes a good net presence. Here he holds his ground, and uses those quick hands of his to bat a loose puck out of mid-air.
15. Feb. 9 vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning
Wouldn't you know it, it's a power play goal. Kesler from off the right wall with that wrist shot. By now, teams have to be scouting for it, but it happens so fast I don't know that there's any real way to prevent it.
16. Feb. 11 vs. the Florida Panthers
Another day, another power play goal. If you're wondering, 10 of Ryan Kesler's first 16 goals were on the power play. This one's off a rebound when a Mikael Samuelsson shot gets through, and Vokoun kicks it right to Kesler. Kesler does a great job of corralling it with his own skate, then roofing it.
17. Mar. 3 vs. the Detroit Red Wings
Finally, a different sort of goal! This might be Kesler's best effort of the season to date, as he charges in with three Red Wings within a foot of him, shows off his incredible speed and some smart stickwork and puts it past Howard before anybody can stop him. This Kesler, the one who goes to the net hard, with speed and with power, is the one I think nobody wants to deal with. He's so strong and so fast that goals likes this could start coming with regularity next season.
18. Mar. 3 vs. the Detroit Red Wings
And we're back to the powerplay. For those keeping score, that's 12 of 18, or 2 of every 3. That's incredible. This one is a tip-in off of a Daniel Sedin shot that's quite obviously a pass. This is why the Canucks are good. Kesler and Raymond, for instance, are capable of creating their own scoring chances, but occasionally, all they have to do is follow-through with a brilliant pass from a Sedin. It's like having somebody chew you food for you, except not disgusting.
19. Mar. 5. vs. the Chicago Blackhawks
A Kesler wrist shot from above the dot, but don't be fooled: it's an even-strength goal. This is one that Cristobal Huet should have had, but that's why he's been buried in Switzerland this season. If I were going to cut him some slack, I'd say he was screened, but I don't feel like cutting him any slack (he sucks), so consider it unmentioned.
20. Mar. 14 vs. the Calgary Flames
This one is all Alex Burrows. For people still uncertain of whether or not Burrows is the offensive talent he appears to be, pay special attention to this play, as well as his passing in general. He isn't always the finisher on pretty Sedin passing plays; sometimes he starts them. He makes nifty little back passes too, like this one. Kesler deserves credit for the wicked one-timer.
21. Mar. 18 vs. the San Jose Sharks
We return to the power play for this one, as Kesler fires a wrist shot past Nabokov to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead. This seems familiar. I think I was at this game. In any case, this wrist shot comes from a little further in than normal, but it's the exact same goal he scored a handful of times last season.
22. Mar. 24 vs. the Anaheim Ducks
Kesler's first empty-netter of the season. He shoots the puck at the net and there is no goalie, so it goes in. Pretty basic. Nothing to see here.
23. Apr. 1 vs. the Los Angeles Kings
This one is Kesler at his best, as he controls the puck well, uses a little drag move to get some separation from Jarrett Stoll, then wrists a perfect shot past Quick to cut the lead to 5-2. I remember watching this game and not caring, because the Canucks were getting creamed.
24. Apr. 4 vs. the Minnesota Wild
Goal number twenty-four comes on the end of some great work by Alex Burrows, who makes Martin Havlat look absolutely stupid and skates right past him while shorthanded. The play instantly becomes a 2-on-1, and after Burrows draws the other defender and feeds the puck to Kesler, there's nobody left to beat. This is Kesler's first shorthanded goal of the season. I'm genuinely shocked by this; I could have sworn he had more.
25. Apr. 10 vs. the Calgary Flames
An even-strength tap-in for Kesler after a perfect cross-ice pass from Mason Raymond. This is one of the reasons I'm especially optimistic for Raymond's next season. He can pass the puck, and he showed it on more than one occasion last season. My thinking is that, even if his goal totals don't increase, his assist totals will as he begins to see passing lines like this one more often. At least that's my eternal optimist speaking, but he just watched twenty-five Ryan Kesler goals in a row, so he's a little biased.
Edit: I originally had the same link for the Mar. 14 goal and the Apr. 10 goal and I didn't realize they were the same goal. In fact, I thought Raymond and Kesler scored identical goals a month apart. I marveled at it, and mocked the Flames defense for allowing the exact same goal twice. It was 2 am. I have since fixed this mistake thanks to a tip from an anonymous commenter, but I wanted everyone to know I am a prize fool.