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Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen isn’t a fan of the way Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler has defended him through two games of the Western Conference Final.
“I mean, it just blows my mind watching,” Johansen said to the Associated Press Sunday after Anaheim won Game 2 to even the series at one game apiece, via Jace Evans of USA Today.
“I don’t know what’s going through his head over there,” he added. “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.”
Johansen still managed a goal and an assist Sunday after he notched two assists in Game 1. However, Cam Tucker of NBC Sports said Johansen caught “an apparent elbow in the third period” from Kesler.
Kesler’s 83 penalty minutes this season were enough for the second-highest mark of his career, and he was whistled for a tripping penalty Sunday.
Evans noted the physical forward won the 2011 Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward, and he consistently tussled with Johansen during the first two games.
Johansen’s comments are sure to lead to even more tension for Tuesday’s Game 3 in Nashville.