So ahead of Tuesday night’s Game 3 between the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks, the Kesler vs. Johansen storyline continues after the two centers battled on the ice and in the media after Sunday night’s Ducks win.
“I laughed. I got a lot of text messages from my friends and family saying they still cheer me on,” Kesler said on Tuesday, referencing’s Johansen’s post-Game 2 comments wondering how the Ducks forward’s family and friends could cheer for him.
There were slashes, high sticks, an elbow up high, and plenty of colorful words exchanged between the two. Kesler, who has a Ph.D in being a pest, clearly got in the head of the 24-year-old Johansen and knows it.
“If I did, good, that’s means I’m doing my job,” Kesler said. “If I didn’t, I’m going to keep doing the same things and playing defense like I have been.”
Maybe that Game 2 outburst was a one-off for Johansen. We’ll find out Tuesday night, because now that the entire hockey world has seen the Predators forward’s reaction Kesler smells blood.
“He’s not my friend. He’s not going to be my friend. He can say whatever he wants,” said Kesler, who has drawn two penalties against Johansen in the series.
The Ducks clawed back from a two-goal deficit to even the series in Game 2. You can bet Randy Carlyle will get Kesler on the ice as much as he can whenever Johansen’s out there. The Predators forward has a goal and three assists through two games and has a point in eight of Nashville’s 12 playoff games.
Johansen is a big part of what makes Nashville go, and Kesler neutralizing him would be a big win for Anaheim. He’ll need to have the patience of Job to withstand 60 minutes of annoyance that coming for him in Game 3.
“I’m not going to let up just because he said so,” Kesler said.
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