Nashville Predators’ center Ryan Johansen and Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler have been engaged in a fierce battle during the Western Conference Final.
Sunday, after the Anaheim Ducks evened the series at one game a piece, Johansen ripped Kesler and invoked Kesler’s family in his postgame comments to the press.
Johansen was asked if Kesler had “gone over the line” in their individual matchup.
“I mean, he just blows my mind,” Johansen said. “Watching, I don’t know what’s going through his head over there. But like, his family and his friends watching him play, I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that. It just doesn’t make sense how he plays the game. I’m just trying to go out there and play hockey, and it sucks when you’ve got to pull a stick out of your groin every shift.”
Kesler, who is one of the best two-way players in hockey, had his own thoughts when speaking to CBC’s Christine Simpson.
“He’s a skilled player,” Kesler said of Johansen before calling out the Predators forward’s toughness. “I play the game hard and obviously he doesn’t like that.”
During the series, Kesler has hooked and held Johansen, later elbowing the Predators star in the head at center ice.
— Grady Sas (@GradySas) May 15, 2017
The two players have jawed constantly and both have tried to land knockout hits. Johansen even head-butted Kesler during the opening faceoff.
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 14, 2017
So far through the first two games, Johansen has gotten the better of the matchup, tallying four points in two games. Johansen scored a goal and tallied an assist in Nashville’s 5-3 Game Two loss on Sunday. Kesler only has one point in the series.
Fun fact: Ryan Johansen is the older brother of Capitals 2016 first-round pick Lucas Johansen.
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