If you were to ask me to decide today, who the MVP for this team is, well I'd say that it would have to be a tie. Kelser and Burrows have been the heart and soul of this Canucks team.
It did not just start this year, no, it has grown over the years.
Last year we started to see these two start to grow and take charge, but the crappy January and February distracted us. The outcries against Naslund made us not take notice.
This year has been different, and they both bring something different to the table. I remember when I read that Vigneault decided to split the pair of them up and believe me, I was not impressed. Vigneault was splitting apart the 1 line that was doing well. Our 1 line that was a fantastic checking line. He was splitting up the one thing the Canucks had going for them at the time. But now, Vineault seems like a genius. Or maybe he just ran out of options. Whatever the case, it seems like he was a genius.
It all started with Burrows. Burrows got that shorthanded goal against Carolina on February 3 2009 that broke the slump. This was the offical turning point the the Canucks' slump that was known as January. Here we had 8 losses in a row, and this was the goal. For those of you that have forgotten about it, fast foward to about the 3 minute mark.
I was at this game, but what I heard that just gave shivers down my back was this:
Can you FEEL the excitement? Wooooooo! A standing ovation. The Cane's take time out. And the cheering doesn't stop. Woooooooo!
We knew that night, something changed.
Since then, the Canucks record has been ridiculous. They have gone on to erase that slump from the records by going on a winning streak. Most notably, against the Dallas game, they had 10 straight home wins! Woooo.
Now Burrows has this ability to score a goal during a game at just the right time sometimes. Some of this goals, are goals that have such an emotional effect that it makes his TEAM excited, it makes the FANS excited. And it makes, both women AND men fall in love with him. I said that right, read the story. He never quits on the puck, for example, that shorthanded chance with Kelser against the Avalanche on Sunday night which took 3 shots to turn into a goal. Ever goal he gets, he's setting a record for this career year of his.
But the other half of this dynamic duo is Ryan Kesler. Like Burrows, Kesler is also having a career year. But Kesler brings a little something different. This year, he got a promotion to be a top 6 forward, and I don't remember where, but he gave an interview earlier this year, saying that he wanted to show that he could be more than just a 3rd line centre. He works hard like no other guy on the team. He shows leadership to the team. And he has been able to bring his speed to the Sundin-Demitra line and has been able to make that team produce offense. He brought a fire to this line, and now they are producing.
Sometimes when you watch him skate, you don't even realize about his skill. The game last night against Dallas, the quick move to his backhand was so slick, you have to watch the video multiple times just to see it.
When you think of the Olympics next year, aren't you a little scared to have him on Team USA? Next year this time, we won't be cheering his goals or his quickness, no, he'll be on the OTHER team.
If we didn't have these two guys having a career year just at the right time, the Canucks wouldn't have this winning streak. We may instead have been looking at the Sedin and Sundin line's wondering where we can get offense. But that's not so.
Just based on heart and soul it's hard not to fall in love with these two. Vancouver already has. But as I posted yesterday, there's another thing that makes you like them even more.
Burrow's took less money to stay with the Canucks than he would have gotten had he went to July 1st as a UFA. 2 million a season is a lot for a guy who came up through the ECHL, but he would have gotten much more if he went to the open market. And you can see that management, with this 4 year contract, wants to keep him on this team, for a long time. And that's just fine by me. Unlike other players who sign a contract and then sudden under-produce, I know he'll bring that same fire to the game every night, hell he scored two goals on the day his signed his contract.
Ryan Kelser has said:
"That's what we need everybody to do," said Kesler. "If we're going to win the Cup, we need guys to take pay cuts. The way the salary cap is now, you really can't get what you're worth now if you want to win. Everybody in this lockerroom knows that and for us to be a great team going forward, we're going to have to take a pay cut."
-from The Province
Wow. And he's going into his contract year. True he's still an RFA, but he has arbitration rights. So for a guy who will stand to make a lot more than the 1.75 that he is making now, it's huge to hear him say this. Of course, what someone says and what someone does is another thing, but I don't think he would have set it if he didn't mean it. This speaks volumes, not just to his teammates but to other players in the NHL. What he is saying that this group of guys want to win the cup and they are willing to make sacrifices to do so. They understand that in the salary cap era, this gives your team the best chance it has to win. Detroit did it and they are a scary team because of it.
These two guys get me excited. I love their celebrations after each goal. It's so much better than last year, where Naslund looked like someone shot his dog every time he scored. These guys have got passion and heart and they just keep impressing me every night.