Week 11 Tough Guy Tracker

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 his

teammates, but will also play through and dish out pain or a

game-changing check whenever his team needs him to do so. In the

heat of the battle, sometimes players not known for their toughness

get in on the action and either turn some heads or get their heads

bashed in.

Each Wednesday, FOXSports.com’s NHL Tough Guy Tracker will

spotlight those players and some of the best scraps from around the

league.

10. In one shift on Dec. 9, Tampa Bay’s Steve

Downie managed to get under the skin of just about every Edmonton

Oilers player that was on the ice. He started things off by

tripping Steve Staios, then, during the delayed penalty call,

Downie ran Robert Nilsson into the boards, which prompted Ladislav

Smid and Ryan Stone to converge on him after the whistle. Stone

wound up taking a seat in the penalty box across from Downie after

laying the smack down on the pesky Lightning forward.

9. It didn’t take Calgary’s Brandon Prust very

long to hunt down Cam Janssen of the St. Louis Blues. The Calgary

enforcer missed 30 games last year with a broken jaw courtesy of a

vicious Janssen elbow so payback was in order. Prust didn’t waste

any time on Dec. 15. In his first shift, he challenged and dropped

the gloves with Janssen but when all was said and done, Janssen

landed more rights than Prust.

8. After hitting Calgary’s Mark Giordano from

behind, Colorado’s Cody McLeod got a face full of Jarome Iginla.

The Flames’ captain not only nailed McLeod with a hit of his own

but also dropped the gloves in an instant in defense of his

teammate.

7. It takes a lot of guts and toughness to earn a

living as an NHL enforcer, but you don’t have to have an ounce of

toughness to blindside an unsuspecting player. Colorado tough guy

David Koci did just that Monday night in Denver when he railroaded

Mike Green behind the Washington net late in the second period.

John Erskine got right in Koci’s face after the cheap shot, but

unfortunately for the Caps’ Koci took him down too.

6. Vancouver’s Rick Rypien went tree chopping the

other night in a game against Atlanta. The 5-foot-10 forward

chopped Atlanta’s 6-foot-7 defenseman Boris Valabik down to size in

an entertaining scrap on Dec. 10 at General Motors Place.

5. Right after St. Louis took a 2-0 lead on

Edmonton in the second period Friday night, Jean-Francois Jacques

tried to get his team going by dropping the gloves with the

Blues’ B.J. Crombeen on the ensuing faceoff. While Jacques

lost the spirited bout to Crombeen, the Oilers mounted a miraculous

comeback by scoring four goals in the third period to skate away

with a 5-3 come-from-behind road victory.

4. On Dec. 8 in Anaheim, Ducks’ captain Scott

Niedermayer crushed Stars’ center Mike Modano two minutes into

overtime, preventing the veteran forward from setting up a scoring

chance in the offensive zone. The Ducks put the game away a little

over two minutes later when Saku Koivu netted his fourth goal of

the year.

3. Atlanta’s Colby Armstrong picked the wrong guy

to sideswipe into the boards last Wednesday night in Calgary. After

Curtis Glencross got up from the hit, the Flames’ winger beat the

living daylights out of Armstrong.

2. On Friday, Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard doused

two Flames in one shift. First, the Wild winger took out Brandon

Prust with a clean open-ice hit to the right of the Minnesota cage.

Then Boogaard took down Brian McGrattan with two solid rights to

the side of the head after the Calgary forward came to the defense

of Prust.

1. Edmonton’s Zach Stortini just about

single-handedly beat the Lightning last Wednesday night in Tampa

Bay. Stortini not only dropped the gloves twice in that game, he

also picked up an assist and buried the game-winner in the Oilers’

3-2 road victory.