The magnitude of the moment is not lost on Alain Vigneault.

Reminded by associate coach Rick Bowness that it took him 20 years to get back to the NHL's version of the Final Four, the Vancouver Canucks bench boss pledged that reaching the Western Conference championship plateau is not the zenith for the Presidents' Trophy winners.

"Rick made it 20 years ago [as head coach of the Boston Bruins] and to get back is not easy," Vigneault said Tuesday. "When you're here, bust a gut and that's what we're going to do. The accountability makes me a big believer that these guys aren't satisfied at all. We need people to step up and be counted on and I'm confident that's going to happen."

Ryan Kesler has done all of the above. That last thing the NHL playoff scoring leader needs is a rallying cry from his coach or some inspirational message scribbled on the board. He is a Selke Trophy favourite and now a Conn Smythe Trophy front-runner.

After all, the centre's face is still a little swollen from absorbing a deflected puck to the chin Saturday. A playoff beard can't hide a zipper of stitches and Kesler even lost a tooth in his brief exit from Game 5 of the conference semifinal. Of course, he came back to score and nearly single-handedly lifted his club to a comeback victory. That's why he's drawing comparisons to prime-time playoff performers.

"He's been unbelievable," said Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. "He has taken his game to a level that I've never seen before in the second round and he's probably one of the most dominant players in the league right now."

It's not just the goals, it's the kind of goals. Driving to the net, fending off Shea Weber, splitting the defence and letting that laser-like wrister go in a quick and accurate fashion.