ANAHEIM, Calif. – Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen had some choice words for Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler after the Ducks beat the Predators 5-3 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.
Johansen was asked if Kesler had “gone over the line” in their match-up and a clearly peeved Johansen ripped Kesler.
“I mean he just blows my mind. I mean watching – I don’t know what’s going through his head out there but like his family and his friends watching him play, I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that,” Johansen said. “It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game, so I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey and it sucks when you gotta pull a stick out of your groin every shift.”
Kesler is known as one of the best two-way centers in the NHL, but he also sometimes tries to rough up his opponents to gain an advantage.
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) May 15, 2017
In Game 2, Johansen butted heads with Kesler on the opening faceoff. Later he took a high-sticking penalty on Kesler.
Though Kesler may have gotten under Johansen’s skin to a degree, the Nashville center has still been prolific with four points in two games this round. He also had a goal and an assist in Game 2. In that contest Kesler had one assist and was a plus-1. He has one point so far in the Western Conference Final.
“I think (Johansen) is playing unbelievable. You saw the first period, he was the best player on the ice by far and after that I think he was still playing well,” Predators forward Filip Forsberg said. “You can look at the statistics. He is showing up every category and I think he has been playing really well for the first two (games).”
Added Predators coach Peter Laviolette, “I think Ryan (Johansen) has been completely composed. The penalty that he took tonight was a faceoff where he was battling for a puck and the stick came up. I think it was accidental more than anything. And as far as his game, I’ve already answered that. I think he’s been excellent.”
Anaheim’s victory evened the series at 1-1.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, both Johansen and Kesler have the same agent, Kurt Overhardt.
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