LOS ANGELES – Ryan Getzlaf breaks into a big grin when asked about the agitating antics of his longtime linemate Corey Perry.
"What? You want me to talk about that?" the Anaheim Ducks captain asks chuckling.
After some gentle prodding Getzlaf opens up.
"That's part of Perry's game. I mean, he's always going to play hard, play hard between the whistles and, you know, there's always a little extra stuff going on and it's stuff he's been doing his whole career. It's part of his makeup and things that fuel him to be a better player on the ice and I thought he was unbelievable [in Game 3]."
On the ice, Perry is in the middle of everything. Rarely will a shift go by without him getting engaged physically with someone.
"He is what he is," said Getzlaf. "He's not out there chirping at every guy that skates by or anything like that. He's just a bit of a rat out there, I guess, if you want to call him [that]. He stirs the pot and he does the things that he does and that helps make him a better player."
What makes Perry's pest persona on the ice intriguing is that it differs sharply with the seemingly reclusive life he leads away from the rink.
"He's very, very quiet off the ice," said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. "He's actually shy around people. But on the ice he's one competitive man."
"If you don't really know him off the ice he's pretty quiet, he really doesn't say too much," said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, who lives around the corner from Perry in London, Ont. and was his Olympic teammate in February. "You kind of got to get to know him a bit more. He's an awesome guy off the ice and I see him quite a bit in the summer, but on the ice he's just a pest out there. He's a really good player and he likes to get under the other team's skin and when you put those two things together it kind of frustrates you."
Perry was third on the Ducks with 65 penalty minutes in the regular season. He is fourth on the team in penalty minutes during the post-season with 15. And the Kings are wary of being goaded into taking retaliation penalties.
"If he starts [agitating] after the whistle then I'm probably going to ignore it, but if it's throughout the game, he's going to try and hit me or whatever, I'm going to try and hit him for sure," said Doughty. "You got to play physical on a guy like that. The only way you can beat him is physically. You got to play him hard and try and get under his skin too, because he gets frustrated at times."
What makes Perry somewhat different is that he's a creative pest. His prank on Jeff Carter in Game 1 – squirting water in his Olympic teammate's unattended glove during a commercial break – went viral. Someone even showed Boudreau the video on YouTube. It reminded the Ducks bench boss of when Perry sprayed water at Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy at the end of the first game of the regular season when the two coaches engaged in a shouting match.
Perry also made it on to plenty of highlight reels earlier in the season. During a November overtime game in Carolina, the 28-year-old broke his stick and grabbed one right out of Alex Semin's hands while skating back to the Ducks bench. Semin was hanging over the boards waiting to come on as part of a line change.
"I don't know if he's trying to get under people's skin or if he's just playing like he's been playing since he was six years old," said Boudreau. "I don't think he's a guy like [Stars forwards] Antoine Roussel or [Ryan] Garbutt, who purposely do things to tick the other person off. I think Corey just plays as Corey and if it ticks people off then that's an added bonus."
Boudreau believes Perry needs to create chaos in order to be the effective 43-goal scorer he is.
"The more you're on him and the more you hound him the more competitive he gets just like when I watch Doughty," Boudreau explains. "The more you hit him the better he gets."
"If I'm not doing different things," Perry said, "I'm not going to be myself on the ice."
But how does Perry explain the double life he leads? How is he able to morph from unassuming off the ice into an annoyance on it?
"There's a switch where, when I get to the rink, it flips on," the former Hart Trophy winner said quietly. "I can turn it off when I leave."
NOTES: Perry and Getzlaf held a one-on-one meeting after the Game 2 loss to discuss why they weren't as effective. "Luckily enough we don't have to have them that often," said Getzlaf. "It's not that often where both of us don't have a good game. Sometimes it's one or the other and we can kind of pick each other up a bit. There were just some things we needed to do better. It's not like we were playing horrible or anything like that. It was just we needed to be better than we were and that's when you have those talks." The two responded with a strong effort in Game 3 as the Ducks got back in the series. Perry scored the opening goal of the game on the power play ... "We just got to take him out of this series," said Doughty of Perry. "He's one of the key guys on their team and we haven't done a good enough job against him yet so tonight [in Game 4] we got to pay special attention to that and take him out of the game."