And with the series knotted and heading to Smashville — get ready for war. Because Ducks bully Ryan Kesler is in the kitchen of Ryan Johansen. And the Preds centerman went all-in on Kesler, one of hockey’s great agitators postgame with this rant:
That’s Kesler. That’s what this guy does — and maybe the only thing that’s surprising is that Johansen didn’t see it coming. That’s who this guy is… He’s been doing it from the day he got in the league and it sure as hell isn’t going to stop in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, something Kesler all but said postgame to sportsnet: “Obviously he’s a skilled player and I play the game hard. And obviously he doesn’t like that.”
Not exactly a guy too concerned about complaints he’s heard at every stop along the way. And he’s not about stop right now. If anything, you can look for him to dial it up. And why? Two reasons. One, why does anyone do anything? Because they can. And two, because it works.
He clearly is under Johansen’s skin and in his head. This is what Kesler does, he takes guys out of their games, and gets them to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Case in point, rattling Johansen into high sticking him in the second period. While winning a number of key face-offs down the stretch as that Ducks were able to close the Preds out.
So Johansen got hooked. He took the bait. And now that Kesler got him, expect more of the same.
Game 3 tomorrow from Smashville. And Round 3 for Kesler vs. Preds. Obviously, Johansen will be more comfortable on his home ice. And if Kesler cracks him with another elbow, he’ll probably get the call this time. Assuming he stays down this time.
Because despite losing the home ice, last night is exactly where the Ducks want this. With Kesler, famously agitating, in the other guy’s kitchen and making breakfast. Just ask Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Kesler’s talked about how when he was in Vancouver, those were two guys he used to “troll by any means necessary.” And he’s at it again. And it’s working.