By Garrett Funk
The Ducks had a clunker in their final game before the All-Star Break when they fell to the Oilers 4-0 on Wednesday night. The team looked like they were focused on the break instead of the task at hand. Cam Talbot made some good stops for the Oilers but the Ducks also missed a lot of open nets. However, that was one bad game that followed a stretch where Anaheim had gone 8-2-1 in their previous 11 games. The driving forces behind a lot of their success this season have been Ryan Kesler and Cam Fowler.
Kesler has put up big numbers so far this season and while it should not surprise anyone, it has been a statement season for him after signing his six-year contract and dealing with the doubters who said he was paid too much. It drives Kesler to play even harder and prove people wrong. Through 51 games this season, Kesler has put up 18-21=39 and shut down many top players in the league. Kesler has held hockey’s brightest young star, Connor McDavid, to just one assist through three games against Edmonton this season. Kesler does it all, including winning face-offs where he is at 57.6% on the season. That is good for second in the league. This All-Star appearance was well deserved for the alternate captain that has had his best season as a Duck. Kesler has the potential to put up over 60 points this season for Anaheim and silence the doubters once and for all.
Cam Fowler has been tremendous this year. After dealing with trade rumors at the draft and fully expecting to be traded, his play this season has more than proved his worth to the team. He is having perhaps his best season since his rookie year. Randy Carlyle has unleashed the offensive potential that Fowler possesses and let him play a game that showcases just how tremendous at skating he is. Fowler has put up 10-16=26 in 51 games so far this season. It would not be a stretch to predict those totals reaching 15-30=45 at season’s end, exceeding his highest point total since his rookie year under Carlyle. Fowler has been a joy to watch for Ducks and hockey fans alike this season, and one would be hard pressed to imagine him playing anywhere else now.
Kesler and Fowler have had stellar seasons so far and deserved to be in Los Angeles this weekend. They have made many fans proud of the seasons so far and anticipating what they will do in the second half. If they continue to play the way they have been, the Ducks will be in great shape heading into the postseason. Congratulations to these All-Stars from Anaheim that have certainly made their cases in a big way. Fans will be tuned in today to watch them represent Anaheim and hopefully get another win. Best of luck to them both.
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January 29, 2017