The Nashville Predators centre was matched up against Anaheim’s pest for much of the Ducks’ Game 2 win, and Johansen didn’t shy away in his post-game comments.
“He just blows my mind, I don’t know what’s going through his head out there,” said Johansen, who had a goal and an assist in the loss. “His family and 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 have to pull a stick out of your groin after every shift.”
Kesler and Johansen went at it several times in what was a physical contest, literally bumping heads before a faceoff at one point.
When Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson asked Kesler about his battles with Johansen, the Ducks veteran simply responded: “I play the game hard, and obviously he doesn’t like that.”
The 32-year-old Kesler has never quite cared what his opponents think of him, and it’s doubtful Ducks coach Randy Carlyle does either. Anaheim came back from a 2-0 deficit to take Game 2 and avoid dropping the opening two games of the Western Conference Final at home.
With the series tied 1-1 heading into Nashville for Game 3 on Tuesday, you can bet a steady stream of boos awaits No. 17 for the Ducks.