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A debate over some alleged trash talk between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators has become one of the biggest stories in the Stanley Cup Final.
At the end of the Predators’ 5-1 Game 3 win, Predators defensemen P.K. Subban began jawing with Sidney Crosby before referees pulled the two apart.
After the game, Subban was asked by NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire about what the two players said to one another, and Subban said Crosby told him his breath smelled.
“He told me my breath smelled,” Subban said. “But I used some Listerine before the game, so I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June4, 2017
According to Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski, Subban’s comment was a reference to an interview McGuire had last season with the Penguins’ Phil Kessel when Kessel mistook a question about his conditioning to be a question about his breath.
Subban continued in the locker room after the game, saying, “Usually when guys chirp after the game or during the game, it’s usually about your game or something personal. He went on to tell me that my breath smelled bad, and I really don’t understand why, because I use Listerine before the game.”
Crosby was asked about it on Sunday and said Subban made it up, referencing the two players’ past confrontations.
“Yeah, he made that up. I didn’t say that … He likes the attention, and things like that. If he wants to make stuff up, what can I do?”
According to Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star, Crosby seemed to be annoyed when asked about the interaction with Subban, saying that he hasn’t actually spent all that much time across from him on the ice.
“To be honest, guys, I haven’t seen him much. I haven’t seen P.K. much. We haven’t been in the zone probably enough. But I don’t feel like every time I’m out there P.K.’s out there. You know, you guys probably watch closer than I do, but that’s how it feels. I’m pretty sure that they’re not locked in on a certain pairing being out there against a certain line. They’re pretty comfortable with each pairing, and I’m kind of seeing a bit of both.”
Subban and the Predators have continued the bit, however. On Sunday, Subban said his breath was better and that his teammates left a bottle of mouthwash for him. Meanwhile, Predators defenseman Roman Josi said Subban’s breath smells “great” and goalie Pekka Rinne said Subban always flosses.
Subban, who has a reputation for making headlines, also admitted that this is part of his tactic, saying, “The gamesmanship’s awesome. That’s what you love, and that’s what you probably miss the most when you’re finished playing. For those battles. For that game within a game.”
The Predators seemingly have momentum on their side, despite trailing in the series. Going into Monday’s Game 4, they have the Penguins right where they want them – answering silly questions about Subban’s breath while Subban and his teammates continue poking them with sticks. The results still have to bear it out on the ice, but at the moment, the Predators seem to have the kind of mental edge that can turn a series.