LOS ANGELES — Jets defenseman Logan Stanley tumbled to the ice, his 6-foot-7 frame crumpling after he pasted the Wild's Kirill Kaprizov into the boards.
Despite being 9 inches shorter and weighing 20-plus pounds less, Kaprizov barely flinched, and he even shoved Stanley while Stanley was still sprawled.
But Stanley wasn't just clashing with Kaprizov during that Oct. 19 game at Xcel Energy Center. He was also taking heat from Marcus Foligno, who piped up from the Wild bench.
"Big tree fall hard," Foligno bellowed, drawing on a saying he remembered hearing when he was younger and there was an intimidating 12-year-old on the other team.
"I just had to let Stanley know that even the big trees fall down once in a while," said Foligno, who is known as "Moose" to his teammates. "Little things like that can really tick guys off."
In between the rattling of the boards and the clatter from sticks, another melody croons on the ice.
Players supply a playlist of digs, insults and taunts, a diss track that they refer to as chirping.
"It's just always been there, and I think it always will," Joel Eriksson Ek said.
This commentary can be factual or hyperbole, laced with profanity or right to the point. Not everyone responds, and some players are off limits. And in front of the opposing bench, that's the lion's den.
But these slights aren't intended to only ruffle the recipient. They can also help the sender.
"It gets you emotionally involved in the game," Foligno said. "It brings you into the battle."
The subject matter for these quips can range, but a common theme is ripping someone's skill.
Questioning why a player is in the NHL is a typical take, and a slower skater might hear, "Get the piano off your back."
Telling someone he doesn't deserve an award is another tactic.
That was inspiration for Foligno against Winnipeg earlier this season, with him shouting to the Jets' Mark Scheifele that Eriksson Ek is "a better Selke" — referring to the annual trophy given to the best defensive forward in the NHL.
"That can get under guys' skin," Foligno said, "especially guys that take pride in being a defensive forward in that Selke position. That was more having Ekker's back and obviously Scheifele didn't win it, so I think just a little salt to the wound."
Newcomers to the NHL are also susceptible.
"I've seen where guys go up to a rookie and say, 'You need to have over 100 games to talk to me,'" Foligno said.
Even paychecks can be criticized.
"If you've got a guy who's just in the league trying to fight someone who's good, I hear a lot, 'You're in a different tax bracket' type of thing," Jordan Greenway said.
Honesty, humor and honor
What makes a quality chirp is some truth and a quick delivery.
"There's some guys who are just wittier than others," Matt Dumba said. "[They] come up with stuff on the spot."
If players on the other team think it's funny, too, that deserves kudos.
"Anytime you can get their teammates to laugh, at that point they just gotta give you credit for the joke," Ryan Hartman said.
The zingers that linger long after the delivery are also well-executed.
"The best chirps are subtle ones that maybe you second-guess your own game," goalie Cam Talbot said. "It's in the back of your mind like ... 'Really?' Maybe the more subtle, the better. Maybe it gets the other guy thinking more than he should."
The trash talk happens around the net, after whistles, before faceoffs and especially while skating by the bench.
"Get off. You're terrible out here," is one sound-off.
Icings and poor passes are also pointed out, rivalry games can get particularly loud, and the playoffs are gabfests.
Feedback, however, isn't equally distributed.
Superstars are a no-go; the only way to send them a message is to keep them off the scoresheet.
"It's tough to obviously chirp guys that have won Stanley Cups because they just pull that out on you," Foligno said. "That's the ultimate comeback is, 'How many Stanley Cups do you have?' And if you have none, you have no comeback."
Not everyone counters.
Talbot doesn't participate in the chatter.
"I try to stay away from that," he said. "That's a mental game that those guys like to play. I just like to keep to myself and go about my business."
Eriksson Ek also is quiet.
"I've just never been a guy that talks on the ice to other teams," he said. "I'm just trying to stay in my lane and just play the game."
His non-reaction, though, still seems to ignite the ire of the opposition since scrums tend to fan around him.
"It's because I play with Moose maybe," Eriksson Ek said.
Foligno, however, does recall Eriksson Ek having a spat with the Kings' Adrian Kempe.
"They're yelling at each other, but it's in [Swedish]," Foligno said. "I'm trying to help out Ekker, and I'm like, 'I don't know what's going on here. You guys can deal with it.'"
All about the advantage
Even if a player doesn't speak up, he still might get heckled. And if someone doesn't have thick skin, he will only become a bigger target.
"Whether you dish it or not, no matter who you are, you're going to get it," Greenway said. "But you can't take it to heart. I think the best guys don't even think about it."
This back-and-forth can actually help a player get more engaged in the game, keeping him alert knowing he could be on the receiving end after making his voice heard.
And that's why this conversation happens.
Players are competitive, and they are searching for an edge that can help their team.
"Some guys don't like to be chirped at, especially the skilled guys," Foligno said. "The grinders, they're just built that way that they've been doing it for such a long time; they know how to handle it. But some skill guys don't like it.
"You're on them. You're all over them all game. You're yelling at them. It can really tick them off and maybe get them thinking about something else rather than their next play. I think that just puts an advantage on the team that's doing it."