Penalty killing, face-off winning make Ryan Kesler unpopular in Canada

Penalty killing, face-off winning make Ryan Kesler unpopular in Canada
Calgary's Matt Stajan and Ryan Kesler face off Tuesday during Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals series between with Flames and the Ducks. (Derek Leung / Getty Images)

The public enemy thing was ramped down, a bit, in Calgary for Games 3 and 4 of the Ducks-Flames series.

Not that they stopped booing Ducks center Ryan Kesler. Of course they did.


This is about degree of dislike. On the Canadian meter of Kesler dislike — KesDis — it was not nearly as vociferous as the booing in Winnipeg for the first round of the playoffs. Or what he heard when he played against his former team, the Canucks, in Vancouver.

There are degrees of dislike and degrees of influence. Kesler was a massive factor in the Jets series, and his influence has been considerable against the Flames as the Ducks take a 3-1 series lead into Sunday's Game 5 at Anaheim.

Arguably, he had one of the best all-around games among Ducks forwards on Friday night in their 4-2 win in Game 4. Kesler assisted on the first goal, helped screen Flames goalie Karri Ramo on the game-winning goal and won 15 of 28 face-offs.

"I was thinking about that after the game, quite frankly," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said on a conference call on Saturday. "He gets one assist and that's wonderful. He was so depended upon by me and the team, like for face-offs in our own zone.

"When we had the chance to do some matchups with [Sean] Monahan [of the Flames] and stuff and he was there, penalty-killing. My goodness, when you are killing penalties and winning face-offs, that's so important in the whole scheme of things, and Ryan was doing that, the five on three, especially.

"Sometimes it doesn't show up on the scoresheet, but his contributions are big."

Beleskey, a record-setter

Ducks forward Matt Beleskey, who had the game-winner on Friday, finds himself in big-name company, having scored in four straight games. This equals a Ducks postseason franchise record set by Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Beleskey said words from the coaching staff paid off in the third period on the power play.

"I'm just trying to shoot pucks and get in the positions that the coaches are telling me to get to," he said. "[Assistant] Coach Brad Lauer has been harping on me to get between those harsh marks all season, really, for that exact goal, and it pays off here in the playoffs."

Even when he wasn't scoring, he felt like he was helping make a difference.

"I think in the Winnipeg series I contributed, just in different ways," Beleskey said. "Some hits, some forechecks, some momentum swings. This series, it's goals. Hopefully they keep coming."


The Ducks haven't lost to the Flames in 20 regular-season games in Anaheim and outscored them, 9-1, in winning the first two games of the series.

"We're all in a good mood right now, I can tell you that," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said Friday about heading home with the chance to finish off the series.

"It wouldn't feel good going home, 2-2, because we wouldn't be satisfied, and that's not what we wanted to do."

Said forward Andrew Cogliano: "That's a big game for a lot of guys in this room. A lot of guys weren't able to get over that hump last year, and I think we'll be ready to do that."

Forward Tomas Fleischmann made his first appearance of the series, playing in his first game since Game 4 against Winnipeg. He was a minus-one in nearly eight and a half minutes of action.

Boudreau wasn't sure if he was going to make any changes for Game 5.

"We thought he was OK, showed a little bit of rust in not playing in this series," Boudreau said. "Positionally, I really liked what he did for the eight minutes, and he can play multiple positions. He played the four on four. He killed the penalty. I don't know if we're going to make changes, right now, probably not."

Twitter: @reallisa