During level two of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ryan Kesler emerged as the “beast”, a moniker derived from his superhuman efforts against the Nashville Predators.
Since returning to his roster spot after offseason hip surgery however, Kesler’s been anything but feral, posting only eight points in fifteen games (on pace for just over half of last season’s total) while going minus-3. His shooting percentage has gone down by a staggering 10.5% while the fans mumble slurs in shades of Bure about his passing “скольжение” (that’s Russian for “faux pas”).
Since Kesler came very close to losing a life (halfway through the video) against Chicago, it’s clear that he has modified his title, now becoming the “Altered Beast”. Let’s draw some comparisons.
After as deep a playoff run as any club could have, every other team in the league received ample tape of Vancouver’s game and Kesler’s suffered as much as anyone else. He’s become predictable, and all of his moves (be they punch, kick or jump) are getting stuffed by enemy defenders, including third-pairing zombies (right).
His icetime per game has dropped by over a full minute from last year’s regular campaign, and by over three minutes in comparison to the postseason (currently at 19:18 TOI/G). That’s not a lot of playing time for a top-3 forward on the league’s reigning scoring title club, but it does draw a parallel in that 19 minutes is roughly how long an Altered Beast playthrough takes when you have a linemate.
He’s also not showing any of the grit Vancouver’s come to expect from him during his early third-line grinding days and the aforementioned beastly Nashville series, where he singlehandedly carried the team through the second round with eleven points in six games, three of which were multi-point efforts. He has only one two-point affair this year (a pair of assists in the 7-2 Capitals blowout) and hasn’t been seen driving to the net at all. Kesler really needs to shake off whatever’s ailing him and power up.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, whenever he plays his game the crowd really has no clue what’s going on. Seriously, the other team’s goons aren’t the only ones who look undead out there.
Rise from your grave, Ryan.