The latest example followed Sunday's 5-3 Anaheim win over Nashville; Ryan Johansen expressed his disgust with Kesler's play.
In this case, that player is Johansen, who has managed to break through Kesler's shackles for four points in two games.
"I mean, it just blows my mind watching". "Like his family and his friends watching him play, I don't know how you cheer for a guy like that". "It's nearly like we feel, 'Oh, we've got nothing to lose now.' It's nearly like that's when we play our best 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 every shift".
The pair had several physical encounters in the high-scoring contest.
One of Ryan Kesler's calling cards is his ability to create headaches for opponents.
"I play hard, he obviously doesn't like that", Kesler said about Johansen in a postgame interview. In the second period, Kesler assisted on a tying goal when Johansen lost his man in the defensive zone.
Sunday, after the Anaheim Ducks evened the series at one game a piece, Johansen ripped Kesler and invoked Kesler's family in his postgame comments to the press. In the third period, with the Predators trailing by a goal, Johansen was frustrated enough to take a high-sticking penalty on Kesler.
Game 3 is Tuesday in Nashville. "We take the mindset we've got to just to better than the guy across from you".
Johansen added: "He doesn't do anything that makes sense".
Johansen, who has three goals, leads the Predators with 13 points in 12 games in the playoffs. Johansen, between Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, has been almost unstoppable this postseason-they've got 30 points among them, with Johansen pacing the team in assists with 10.
The two centers have seen quite a bit of each other, particularly with Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle having the last line change for both Games 1 and 2 in Anaheim. I think it was accidental more than anything.