Predators avoid Johansen-Kesler drama, but can’t deny bad blood

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If you want a quick summation of how other members of the Nashville Predators reacted to Ryan Johansen bashing Ryan Kesler, consider head coach Peter Laviolette essentially pleading the fifth.

Following Game 2, the Predators generally took that approach to addressing Kesler, who reacted to such comments in a predictable manner himself. Perhaps, then, the more interesting thing is: will Laviolette try to avoid the Johansen vs. Kesler matchup as the series shifts to Nashville for Games 3 and 4?

In vaguer terms, Laviolette addressed that question – and the questions about physicality – on Monday.

“There’s no question they play a physical game. Our team’s been able to do it different ways, play different styles,” Laviolette said. “We have home ice, so we’ll be able to find matchups we want or don’t want a little bit easier. But I think, like I said, our guys, I think they’re accustomed to playing different types of game. To get through Chicago we had to play one way. To get through St. Louis you had to play a different way. So I think the guys will be fine.”

The any style sentiment¬†echoes James Neal‘s thoughts after a Game 1 win.

Now, having the last change is great, but it may often boil down to one difficult Ryan vs. Ryan matchup (Johansen vs. Kesler) to another one that might benefit Anaheim (Johansen vs. Ryan Getzlaf). So, to some extent, the Predators are just going to need to dig deep here.

Colton Sissons probably said it best in considering what’s to come for the Western Conference Final.

“That’s playoffs written all over it,” Sissons said. “Obviously there’s some bad blood there and they’ve been competing hard and battling all series. And it’s only going to get escalated from here.”

*Rubs hands together in excitement.*

Game 3 airs on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App. Click here for the livestream link.