ANAHEIM, CA – MAY 14: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators protects the puck from Ryan Kesler #17 of the Anaheim Ducks in the first period of Game Two of the Western Conference Final during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 14, 2017 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Western Conference Final is only two games in and already a fierce rivalry is developing between the Nashville Predators and the Anaheim Ducks. Tied at one game a piece, the series has featured some pretty chippy play, including a good number of sticks directed at groins. That’s led to some pretty fun comments to the media by Ryan Johansen regarding Ryan Kesler.

If you haven’t followed the series so far, here’s a quick example of the Johansen-Kesler sideshow.

When asked after the game about Kesler, Johansen didn’t hold back, saying that he can’t imagine how Kesler’s family and friends can cheer for him. Oh, and he also mentioned the whole “stick in the groin” problem.

That’s about as close as you can come to calling a player dirty without actually calling them dirty. It may not be the most subtle way to call a guy out – questioning the integrity of Kesler’s friends and family – but it’ll certainly give the Ducks some material in their dressing room.

Kesler responded by saying that he plays hard and it’s clear Johansen doesn’t like it.

Kesler’s definition of playing hard may straddle the line between clean/dirty, but that’s up for the officials to determine or for the Predators to punish. Predators fans may laugh at Johansen’s comments, but they should be a bit concerned that Kesler has obviously gotten to Nashville’s talented forward.

Keep an eye on these two. Things probably won’t cool down until it’s time for handshakes.

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.