WHAM! BAM! Thank you, man! The NHL season is in full swing, and so are the league's tough guys. 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
On Dec. 28, Nashville's Shane O'Brien (right) let Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars know that bumping into his goaltender was a no-no. With his team up by a goal in the first period, Ott tried to throw Pekka Rinne off his game by running into him after the Predators' netminder covered up a loose puck, but all Ott got in return was a beating thrown his way by O'Brien.
Even though he lost his decision to Chicago's John Scott (right) on Dec. 28, Blues enforcer Cam Janssen deserves a lot of credit for standing in there until the very end with the Blackhawks' giant. Although the much bigger and heavier Scott controlled most of the action, Janssen had his chance to take out the big boy 32 seconds into the scrap when he rocked the behemoth with an overhand right to the chin.
On Monday in Calgary, the New York Islanders' Zenon Konopka fell one goal short of a "Gordie Howe" hat trick when the battler picked up an assist and decision over Tom Kostopoulos a 5-2 victory. The scrap was Konopka's 13th of the year, which left him one shy of the league lead.
With his team down by two goals against the Coyotes on Dec. 29, LA's Kevin Westgarth tried to rally the Kings by picking a fight with Phoenix tough guy Paul Bissonnette. Although Westgarth scored a comeback victory over his foe, the same couldn't be said for his team, as the Coyotes crowned the Kings, 6-3.
Score one for the NHL veteran. With time winding down in the first period and his team down by a goal Dec. 28, Philly's Sean O'Donnell tried to use his experience to fire up his team for the next period by mixing it up with Vancouver's Aaron Volpatti.
Vancouver's Tanner Glass needs to show more class. After getting his glass kicked by Jamal Mayers in a first-period bout on Monday in San Jose, the battled-tested forward tried to take his frustrations out on a helmet-less Sharks rookie, Brandon Mashinter. But to everyone's surprise, the 22-year-old center not only held his own in his first real NHL fight, but he also outclassed Glass in the scrap by dropping his lid before the two toughies tangled at center ice.
With his team trailing 1-0 in the first period against the Ducks on Dec. 28, Paul Bissonnette tried to wake up the Coyotes by taking on George Parros. While his intentions were good, his actions were not. Bissonnette proved to be no match for the NHL's fight-leader in Anaheim's 3-1 victory.
John Erskine vs. Mike Rupp
Washington's John Erskine and Pittsburgh's Mike Rupp brought the Winter Classic crowd to their feet when they dropped the gloves in the cold and wet outdoors on Jan. 1 in front of 68,111 fans at Heinz Field.
Getty ImagesJamie Sabau
On Saturday in Ottawa, Colton Orr (left) almost single-handedly kept the battle of Ontario alive by dropping the gloves twice against two of the league's toughest customers in Matt Carkner and Chris Neil. In his third-period squabble with Neil, Orr was a one-arm bandit, landing right after punishing right on the ruffian's mug.
Cam Janssen vs. Krys Barch
Even though 2011 is just a few days old, Blues tough guy Cam Janssen (pictured) and the Stars' Krys Barch may very well have had the fight of the season Sunday in St. Louis, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at each other in the wildly entertaining match that lasted more than a minute and a half.