CALGARY â€” There’s been chirping and hacking, plus the odd punch thrown between the players wearing No. 10 in the playoff series between the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks.
The Flames signed Kris Versteeg the first day of the regular season because of the experience he brings. That includes knowing when and how to apply sandpaper on the ice.
So he’s matched up well with Ducks forward Corey Perry, who is an old hand at abrasiveness, to provide interesting games within the game.
It’s for the best, really, that their conversations during faceoffs are not broadcast over the public address system, Versteeg said.
“I’m sure if both of us were mic’d, you guys would have a good chuckle,” said the 30-year-old from Lethbridge, Alta. “That would be something. There’s a good thing that we’ll never be mic’d.
“I’ll leave it up to everyone’s imagination.”
Perry wasn’t in the mood Monday to discuss his sparrings with Versteeg. But the latter’s sentiment about salty dialogue best kept between them elicited a small smile.
“Just playoff hockey,” Perry said. “We both are battlers and are up against each other every shift. He plays the left side, I play the right side so every faceoff we’re against each other.
“I’m just trying to win puck battles.”
In addition to the considerable offence they bring to their respective teams, Perry and Versteeg are steeped in the art of getting under an opponent’s skin with verbal and physical jabs.
Drawing a penalty to give your team a power-play without ending up in the box yourself is a craft particularly prized in the post-season.
Perry owns a Stanley Cup ring from 2007 and Monday’s playoff game was the 100th of the 31-year-old Peterborough, Ont., native’s career.
Versteeg won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks (2010, 2015) and played his 92nd playoff game Monday.
The two lining up alongside each other magnifies their irritative qualities.
“I can be really annoying, I know that,” Versteeg said. “I know he doesn’t give up an inch at all. He pretty much knows I won’t give up an inch.
“I’m going to keep going at him like that and I’m sure he’ll keep coming at me.”
The ‘Hawks beat the Ducks in seven games in the Western Conference final two years ago en route to the Cup. But Versteeg didn’t go head-to-head with Perry in that series.
Versteeg injured his knee in the first round against Nashville that year and didn’t draw into the lineup again until the Cup final.
But he and Perry have both been in the NHL long enough to have locked horns a few times.
“I love it,” Versteeg said. “It’s competitive and it’s hard fought and every inch is fought for.”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press