The NHL Tough Guys have been in full swing since early October. Whether they were throwing thunderous checks, landing nose-breaking blows, or stepping in front of light speed slap shots, these hard-nosed players had no problem laying their butt, face or any other body part on the line for the sake of their teammates or getting a win. Night in and night out, tough guys from around the league made the opposition and the crowd know that they were in the building. With the New Year right around the corner and plenty more rough and tough hockey to play, this week's installment of the Tough Guy Tracker hits the rewind button on the first half of the 2010-11 campaign, where you'll once again witness some of the scrappiest moments of the season. — Punch Imback
Deryk Engelland vs. Colton Orr
Toronto's Colton Orr made Pittsburgh's Deryk Engelland eat some CONSOL Energy Center glass on Oct. 13 when he smashed Engelland hard into the glass behind the Pittsburgh net in the second period. But Engelland didn't let Orr get away with the nasty hit, as he dropped the NHL heavyweight to the ice with a punishing right a few seconds later in a scrap between the circles in the Penguins' end.
Jamie McGinn, San Jose Sharks
After Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone drilled San Jose's Torrey Mitchell into the boards on Nov. 6, Jamie McGinn did some drilling of his own on behalf of his Sharks' teammate. McGinn skated over to Malone and laid some thunder on the big Lightning winger, sending him to the ice with a series of jolting rights.
Sheldon Brookbank vs. Trevor Gillies
On Dec. 16, two NHL enforcers, Islanders Trevor Gillies and Anaheim's Sheldon Brookbank, earned their keep when they came together in defense of their teammates. Brookbank was about to rearrange the face of New York's Matt Martin for landing a suspect hit on his teammate, Andreas Lilja, in the first period. But Gillies wasn't going to let that happen on his watch. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound brute sent Brookbank to his knees by landing an assortment of overhand lefts and upper cuts in the 60 second scuffle.
Brandon Dubinsky, New York Rangers
Brandon Dubinsky was a huge part of the Rangers laying the smack down on the Washington Capitals on Dec. 12 at MSG. New York’s feisty forward picked up a "Gordie Howe hat trick" in the 7-0 thumping of the Caps, which included Dubinsky dropping the gloves with Alex Ovechkin after the Washington captain landed a crunching hip check on Dan Girardi.
Deryk Engelland, Pittsburgh Penguins
Week in and week out this season, Pittsburgh's Deryk Engelland has shown he can throw with the big boys. On Oct. 29, Engelland took on and clobbered one of Philly's best, Jody Shelley, sending the Flyers tough guy to the box all bloodied and bruised.
Ka Powe! With his team down by two scores to Montreal on Nov. 16, Philly's Darroll Powe tried to get his team going early in the third by dropping the gloves with the Habs' Maxim Lapierre. It only took Powe a mere 22 seconds to pound Lapierre to the ice, landing right after overhand right on the helpless Canadien.
Derek Boogaard, New York Rangers
On Oct. 21 in Toronto, Colton Orr asked the Rangers' Derek Boogaard for a fight, and in return got an ass-whooping. It took "The Boogie Man" a while to get going, but once he found his groove, it was all over for the Maple Leafs' heavyweight, as the Broadway Bully landed several power punches that shook Orr to the core.
Patrick Kaleta, Buffalo Sabres
On Dec. 3 in Buffalo, Patrick Kaleta turned Blue Jackets’ winger Derek Dorsett into a punching bag after the feisty Columbus winger shoved Thomas Vanek, the Sabres’ leading goal scorer, near the Buffalo bench. Kaleta brought the HSBC Arena crowd to its feet when he pounded Dorsett with a boatload of lefts that had Dorsett ducking for cover.
Anton Volchenkov, N.J. Devils
New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov is known for his shot-blocking skills, but on Oct. 9 at the Verizon Center in Washington he took his game — and toughness — to a whole new level when he blocked a Nicklas Backstrom shot with his face in the first period. "It was so quick,” Volchenkov told Rich Chere of the Star Ledger. "It was a pretty hard shot. I was lucky I had a visor. No visor and there would’ve been serious damage."
Anze Kopitar, L.A. Kings
You want tough from the first half? I'll give you tough. In LA's first game of the season, Anze Kopitar took an accidental stick to the face in the second period from Vancouver's Manny Malhotra, which not only knocked out a tooth, but also opened up a gash that required 18 stitches to close. Before the night was over, Kopitar returned to action and stuck it back to the Canucks by netting the game-winner in the shootout. Can't get much tougher or better than that!