Is it just coincidence that the Penguins'
No, there is a pattern with these players, so much so that it makes you understand the sensibilities behind the senseless acts of currently-suspended Islander
The puck-optional pursuit of punishing checks by these kind of players is the bane of the league because the notion of self-policing always enters the discussion when talk turns to repealing the instigator rule. The theory goes that if players weren't fearful of getting the extra two-minutes for instigating a fight, Ruutu and Hollweg and players of that ilk would cease and desist if they knew they were going to be on the painful end of a pounding. I'm not so sure. Simon's attacks didn't back either guy off and what else can they do? They're both one-dimensional in their play as well as the exception rather than the rule among NHL players.
No, allowing the instigation of fights because of the acts of a couple of wanton repeat offenders isn't the answer. Stern suspensions will suffice. The longer the stretches that the league keeps these two thugs off the ice, the better. Besides, there are a host of players who play on the proverbial edge, but who shouldn't be lumped into the same category as Ruutu and Hollweg.
The list of hard-nosed competitors is growing, with youngsters
So, hard-nosed competitiveness is alive and well in the NHL and still defines the game. Ruutu and Hollweg continue to play by their own definition, but thankfully, they're on a very short list and hopefully an even shorter leash.
Speaking of toughness, the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks will look to end a six-game losing streak while still touring the East on their eight-game road trip -- the longest in franchise history. They stop on Long Island (Tues.), Broadway (Thurs.) and in New Jersey (Fri.) this week -- their first visit to the New York area since 2003.
Meanwhile, another Western Conference team trying to right itself on the road is the Vancouver Canucks, who have fallen out of the top-eight playoff mix by way of losing nine of their last 11 games. They face the strange schedule of playing at Dallas on Tuesday and at Atlanta on Thursday before heading home for a Saturday divisional game against the surprising Colorado Avalanche.