Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen has 32 playoff games to his credit. This is the first time he’s played in the conference finals. Asking him to “act like you’ve been there” is asking a lot, because he hasn’t been here before.
But for [expletive] sake, Ryan … as Kris Kristofferson once told Sinead O’Connor as she was booed off stage, “Don’t let the bastards net you down.”
Ryan Kesler is a sneaky one, particularly in the postseason, where he does whatever is essential for his team to win. To that stay, he’s a contemporary day Claude Lemieux: He has 25 points in his final 36 playoff games to fade along with 52 penalty minutes. He’s totality sticks and elbows and trash talk and faux intimidation, designed less to shut you down than to set up a base camp in your cerebral cortex in order to influence future stupidity.
Like, for example, when Johansen “accidentally” smacked Kesler in the face with his stick after a faceoff, drawing a penalty after several that could possess been called on Kesler weren’t.
“I judge Ryan’s been totally composed,” said coach Peter Laviolette, whose team heads back to Nashville tied 1-1 after losing Game 2 on Sunday night. “The penalty that he took tonight was a faceoff where he was battling for a puck and the stick came up. I judge it was accidental more than anything.”
After the game, Kesler was asked approximately Johansen.
“I play the game tough, obviously he doesn’t like that,” he said.
And after the game, Johansen was asked approximately Kesler.
Q – Ryan Kesler is known to be a pretty ample defensive center in this league. He’s been up for some awards. Has he gone over the line in this series?
(Let’s pause for a moment to appreciate the mastery of this question, in which Kesler’s prowess as a Selke-winning defensive forward is in a manner of speaking divorced from the kind of underhanded filthiness that otherwise characterizes his existence. certain, Pavel Datsyuk and Patrice Bergeron don’t play the way Kesler does. But Kris Draper, Michael Peca and Doug Gilmour certain as heck did.)
JOHANSEN: “I mean he just blows my intellect. I mean watching … I don’t know what’s going through his head out there.”
Yeah, that’s kind of the point.
“But like his family and his friends, watching him play … I don’t know how you cheer for a guy like that.”
His friends and family are probably constantly impressed that an American-born player with two ample offensive seasons has played 897 NHL games and has crafted a fruitful career as a “defensive stopper” using any means essential.
Also they’re his friends and family, so obviously they’re going to cheer for him, dummy.
“It just doesn’t acquire sense how he plays the game.”
I don’t know, it totally does whether the game involved tapping your stick blade on another guy’s taint.
“I’m just trying to fade out there and play hockey and it sucks when you gotta pull a stick out of your groin every shift.”
This is just embarrassing for Johansen. Not just because whining approximately a defensive player’s dirty tricks is just empty droning whether you’re not going to acquire a clarion call to the referees to call stuff like this …
… which would actually influence a call or two in Game 3.
No, it’s embarrassing because despite totality these dirty exiguous plays, Johansen outplayed Kesler in Game 2.
What tells more of the head-to-head sage between Kesler & Johansen, that Kesler is 64% on draws, or Johansen has 75% of H2H shot attempts?
— Scott Cullen (@tsnscottcullen) May 15, 2017
Johansen had a goal and an assist in Game 2. He was a plus-5 in Corsi (shot attempts) in Game 2 and a plus-14 in Corsi in Game 1. Kesler was a plus-2 in Game 2 and a minus-13 in Game 1.
Before going off on Kesler and his family’s affinity for his play, Johansen was asked approximately his own Game 2 performance. In his respond he said:
“I just gotta focus on my game.”
Yes. That’s it. Full stop. Don’t comment on the other guy. Don’t sob approximately the other guy. When asked approximately Ryan Kesler, don’t nick a promo on how his nefarious play “blows your intellect”; just achieve that thing that hockey players achieve when attempting to deflect compliment from an opponent’s efforts and say “I just gotta focus on my game.”
perhaps, possibly say it enough, and you can convince yourself that you’re not just another guy in the playoffs that has Ryan Kesler in his head.
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