It was a tough task Wednesday trying to encourage Ryan Kesler to drop his playoff game-face and talk about his third consecutive appearance as a Selke Trophy finalist.

The Vancouver Canuck superb two-way centre rarely cracked a smile in his session with reporters, spilling out stock answers about the Nashville Predators' great coaching, outstanding work ethic and being ready for the next challenge.

Kesler is considered the front-runner to win his first Selke that is presented to the forward who 'best excels in the defensive aspect of the game.' So forget about his 41 goals and think about all those penalty kills, defensive zone faceoffs, blocked shots, takeaways and the shutting down of opponents' top scoring threats. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who won it the last three years, are the other finalists.

"It's nice, obviously, being nominated again but, in saying that, there is only one trophy on my mind right now," Kesler stated, ending the Selke discussion in one sentence.

Well, how about facing old teammate Shane O'Brien? The latter didn't make the Canucks coming out of training camp and was dispatched Oct. 5 to Nashville in a four-player trade that also included Dan Gendur with Ryan Parent and the forgettable Jonas Andersson joining Vancouver's organization.