WHAM! BAM! Thank you, man! The NHL is back and FOXSports.com has all the tough guy whacks. An NHL tough guy isn't necessarily someone who goes out and beats the snot out of an opponent every night. Sure, goons like that still exist in the league, but an NHL tough guy is more than that. He is a player who will not only stand up for himself and/or his teammates, but will also play through and dish out pain or a game-changing check whenever his team needs him to do so. Each Wednesday, FOXSports.com's NHL Tough Guy Tracker will spotlight those players and some of the best scraps from around the league. — Punch Imback
Ilya Kovalchuk vs. Mike Green
The Washington Capitals and the New Jersey Devils were really at each other's throats over the weekend. The two top clubs in the Eastern Conference last year dropped the gloves three times Saturday night in a matter of six seconds in the third period, with Ilya Kovalchuk vs. Mike Green being one of the featured bouts.
Eric Nystrom vs. Tom Kostopoulos
Last Friday night in Helsinki, Minnesota's Eric Nystrom and Carolina's Tom Kostopoulos tried to jumpstart their respective teams by dropping the gloves eight minutes into the opening period. While Kostopoulos got in the better licks early, Nystrom skated away the winner by landing a wicked right at the bell.
Colton Orr vs. Matt Carkner
It didn't take too long for Toronto's Colton Orr and Ottawa's Matt Carkner to add to their fighting history. The two came together Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre for the fifth time in their careers in only the second game of the year for both clubs. When all was said and done, Orr edged Carkner in the third-period scrap, landing more blows than his division rival.
Jared Boll, Columbus Blue Jackets
San Jose's Frazer McLaren wanted a piece of the Blue Jackets' Jared Boll after the feisty Columbus winger took a run at Kent Huskins behind the Sharks goal. But McLaren should have left well enough alone, as Boll fed his much taller foe his lunch.
Francis Bouillon, Nashville Predators
Size didn't matter on Oct. 9 in Tennessee. Nashville fireplug Francis Bouillon chopped down Anaheim's Troy Bodie to size after the 6-foot-4 winger came to the defense of his teammate Todd Marchant, who Bouillon had previously smashed into the boards.
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
Friday night in Detroit, the Joe Louis Arena brought out the Joe Louis in Pavel Datsyuk. The four-time Lady Byng winner earned his first career Gordie Howe hat trick when he registered a goal, an assist and a scrap (vs. Corey Perry) in the Red Wings' 4-0 win over Anaheim.
Brandon Prust vs. Zenon Konopka
Two of last year's top fighters, Islanders Zenon Konopka and Rangers Brandon Prust, went at it but good Monday afternoon at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In a scoreless game just about midway through the first, the NHL tough guys met along the boards and immediately dropped the mitts. The bout ended in a draw with both scrappers scoring nasty rights during the 81-second skirmish.
Steve MacIntyre, Edmonton Oilers
With his team up 4-0 at home against the Calgary Flames last Thursday, Edmonton tough guy Steve MacIntyre saw some things he didn't like from the bench late in the third period, so he took matters into his own hands and squared off against Raitis Ivanans after a center-ice faceoff. MacIntyre took his frustrations out on the Calgary ruffian, dropping him to the ice with two lethal rights.
Anton Volchenkov, N.J. Devils
New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov is known for his shot-blocking skills, but Saturday night 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? I'll give you tough. In L.A.'s first game of the season, Anze Kopitar returned to action after taking an accidental stick to the face in the second period from Vancouver's Manny Malhotra, which not only knocked out a chiclet, but also opened up a gash that required 18 stitches to close. Kopitar stuck it back to the Canucks by netting the game-winner in the shootout.