Kesler (lower body) returned to Saturday's game against the Flames, Elliotte Friedman of NHL Network reports. There were plenty of reasons to be cautious with whatever Kesler was dealing with since he already missed the first half of the season due to a hip injury. Kesler will return to centering the second line and manning the top power play.
Kesler is being checked for a lower-body injury during Saturday's game against the Flames. This is Kesler's sixth contest since returning from a hip injury that caused him to miss the first 37 games of the season. If Kesler can't return to Saturday's game, the Ducks will likely move Adam Henrique up to second-line center, and Kevin Roy will likely fill in on the power play.
Kesler potted his first goal of the season on the power play in Thursday's 2-1 shootout loss to Edmonton. Kesler took advantage of the league's worst penalty kill and earned his team a point by solving Cam Talbot in the first minute of the third period. Owners that have patiently waited for Kesler to return from hip surgery are starting to reap the benefits, as he's up to three points through five games.
Kesler notched his first two points of the season in a 5-2 win against Arizona on Sunday. Kesler played 17:32 in a blowout win, his highest total this season. His ice time will continue to creep up as he gets into game shape, but all that missed time hasn't really hurt his effectiveness. He also threw out a hit and blocked three shots, and dominated the faceoff circle with a 71 percent success rate. His return to the lineup will give the entire team a boost, and free up Ryan Getzlaf so he doesn't have to draw the toughest assignments.
Kelser has gone scoreless with a minus-3 rating and five PIM over 15:38 of average ice time in his first two games back from hip surgery. Give him time. Kesler's an excellent two-way producer who's just getting started on his 2017-18 campaign. He sparred with Matthew Tkachuk on Friday -- hence where the five PIM came from -- and he also blocked a pair of shots in that 2-1 home win against the Flames. Kesler's netted at least 20 goals in four straight seasons and even though his late start will almost assuredly prevent a fifth, the Michigan native's terrific on-ice vision coupled with his role on the No. 2 power play should lead to an abundance of goals and helpers in 2018.
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