Nashville Predators centre Ryan Johansen didn't mince words with his assessment of Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Kesler after Game 2 of the Western Conference final on Sunday night.
After the game, Johansen made it clear that he doesn't think highly of Kesler, nor the people "who cheer for a guy like that".
Surprise, surprise, right? Kesler, known as an instigator as much as he is the alternate captain and center of Anaheim's offense, is no stranger to the edgy side of the game.
During the series, Kesler has hooked and held Johansen, later elbowing the Predators star in the head at center ice.
"He just blows my mind", Johansen said.
Kesler only has one assist so far in the series, but he's been able to bait Johansen into two minor penalties - slashing in Game 1 and a high-stick to Kesler's head Sunday. "His family and his friends watching him play? 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". "If that's Johansen for me, I gotta better than him tonight".
Afterward, Laviolette was highly complimentary of Johansen's game, calling his play "excellent" and his demeanor against Kesler "completely composed". "He thinks he's getting under guys' skin, but I don't know what he's doing".
The shots between Kesler and Johansen were noticeable and physical.
Johansen's comments are sure to lead to even more tension for Tuesday's Game 3 in Nashville.