Kesler, like his Vancouver teammates, is quick to quash any sense of complacency. The Canucks have been ousted by the Blackhawks in the second round in each of the last two years. It's obvious this is not one of Kesler's favorite topics. As he tries to explain what those losses were like, he appears to travel seven months back, the discontent still evident in his face, still ringing in his voice. "No words can really explain it," he says, staring blankly ahead. "It's motivating, I guess. But at the same time, it was tough."
It's not like the new Kesler to dwell on such a thing anyway. He would rather consider the opportunities ahead. The Canucks, among the most consistent teams in the league, rank second in the Western Conference in goals scored and fewest in goals allowed. The Sedin twins—Henrik (58 points) and Daniel (61)—are on pace to top 100 this season, and goalie Roberto Luongo, after relinquishing his captaincy last summer, has had top 10 numbers in GAA (2.35) and save percentage (.922). "We don't get too high in that dressing room," says Kesler. "We're not satisfied and haven't been satisfied this entire stretch."
Making the playoffs is no longer enough in Vancouver. Only the Stanley Cup matters now.
Kesler doesn't doubt the Canucks are up to the task. "I think this is the best team we've had in the last three years," he says. "There's a different mind-set." He knows better than anyone that changing your attitude can change everything.
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