Week 11 Tough Guy Tracker

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

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.



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