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Ford Tough Performance of the Week

Kings' Muzzin rattles Blackhawks' Toews with heavy hit

Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 5:47 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

A playmaking threat each time he steps on the ice, Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews found some room in the third period of a Dec. 30 game against the Los Angeles Kings.

Little did Toews know Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin had him in his sight.

Ovechkin hits, scores his way to win for Capitals

Thursday, 12.19.2013 / 1:24 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

Alex Ovechkin found a way to get himself quickly into the Washington Capitals' game against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at Verizon Center.

Long before Ovechkin would score his NHL-leading 27th goal of the season in the final minute of the third period, rallying the Capitals from a three-goal deficit en route to a 5-4 shootout win, he displayed the other side of his game opponents must fear.

Jumping on the ice for his first shift 31 seconds into the first period, Ovechkin tracked the puck along the boards in his offensive zone, where it happened to be possessed at the time by forward Brayden Schenn of the Flyers. Schenn had his head down looking at the puck, and before he had time to decide what to do with it he was on the receiving end of a crunching check by Ovechkin, who sent Schenn to the ice and created a turnover.

Ovechkin would record five of the Capitals' 29 hits in the game. He also registered six shots and assisted on a power-play goal by Marcus Johansson.

White rattles boards with check on Ehrhoff

Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 10:39 AM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

Ryan White's role on the Montreal Canadiens is not to make fancy plays with the puck and turn on the red light behind opposing goaltenders, as his three goals and 13 points in 115 career NHL games would indicate.

White is the prototypical energy player. He goes around the ice hitting anyone not in a Canadiens jersey and fires up his teammates and the fans at Bell Centre.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will probably be more aware of White's presence on the ice the next time their teams play.

Senators' Zibanejad shows he's more than finesse

Thursday, 12.05.2013 / 1:32 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

Ottawa Senators center Mika Zibanejad has eight goals in 20 games this season and just two minor penalties.

Don't let that fool you into thinking the 20-year-old Swede is simply a finesse player. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev will attest that's not the case.

When the teams played at Canadian Tire Centre on Nov. 28, the Tanev (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) went into the right corner behind his net to retrieve a dump-in with 5:50 left in the second period. That's when he was rocked by Zibanejad (6-2, 211), who delivered a textbook hip check that sent Tanev to the ice and allowed the Senators to create havoc in the Canucks zone.

Zibanejad, who is sixth among Ottawa forwards with 37 hits, got the fans going by putting his size to good use, and before the period was over he would show off his skill by beating Roberto Luongo on a rebound to bring the Senators within 4-2 in what eventually ended up a 5-2 loss.

Physical Reaves provides impact for Blues

Thursday, 11.28.2013 / 12:00 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

The St. Louis Blues are considered one of the toughest teams to play against in the NHL because of their physical, grinding style that compliments their collection of highly skilled players.

Ryan Reeves is a big part of the physical identity for the Blues, and not just because he's willing to drop the gloves. Dallas Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin found that out in the first period of a game Saturday, Nov. 22 against the Blues at Scottrade Center.

Methot shuts down Granlund's finesse game

Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 2:27 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

The playmaking ability of Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund has been evident this season, as the first-round pick (No. 9) in the 2010 NHL Draft has 10 assists to tie for third on the team.

Granlund, 21, can make magic happen at any time playing on a line with another young talent in Nino Niederreiter on his left and veteran Jason Pominville on his right. Pominville is among the NHL's goal leaders with 13, a testament to Granlund's strong work.

Sometimes the best way to stop a player with Granlund's finesse is to play a physical game, the approach Ottawa defenseman Marc Methot took in a game between the teams Wednesday.

Capitals' Ovechkin packs punch with more than shot

Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 1:34 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week Staff

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin packs a punch with his shot; just ask any of the goaltenders who have been victimized by one of the Russian sniper's 385 career goals. Ovechkin has 14 already this season to tie for the NHL lead, including the overtime winner in the Capitals' most recent game, Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ovechkin is a superstar because he can impose his will on a game through more than just his shot, however. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda learned that in a game against the Capitals on Sunday.

Four minutes into the opening period Hejda went back to collect the puck in his end after a Washington dump-in. As Hejda skated into the right corner, he had a 6-foot-3, 230-pound express train heading straight for him. Hejda reversed the puck across to defense partner Erik Johnson just before Ovechkin leveled him with a thunderous shoulder check, momentarily knocking Hejda off his skates and down to the ice.

McDonagh finds unique way to contain Perry

Thursday, 11.07.2013 / 12:26 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

When it comes to star forwards like the Anaheim Ducks' Corey Perry, a 50-goal scorer and Hart Trophy winner, the old adage of "you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him" comes to mind.

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh found a unique means of containing Perry in a 2-1 win by the Ducks at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

McDonagh benched Perry -- literally. And he did it not once but twice in the closing seconds of the second period.

Campbell nearly gets trick with toughness

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 4:29 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

Gregory Campbell didn't quite register the Gordie Howe hat trick, but he did stand front and center when the Boston Bruins hosted the Montreal Canadiens in a pivotal game in the Northeast Division last week.

Not only were the Bruins fighting off the Canadiens for first place and a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, they wanted to prove themselves against a team they had lost four of five against this season and also show they weren't intimidated by Montreal's talk following a hit by Boston captain Zdeno Chara that knocked Max Pacioretty out of the previous matchup with a concussion and fractured vertebra in his neck.

Campbell answered the bell in all respects, scoring a pair of goals in the Bruins' dominant 7-0 victory and picking up a five-minute fighting major for a scrap with Canadiens defenseman Paul Mara.

Campbell's first goal, a tip in of a Chara shot, was part of a three-goal first period that helped Boston establish its superiority. Then, with 16.5 seconds left in the second, he dropped the gloves against Mara and the two squared off near the B's logo at center ice. Despite being the smaller man in the battle, Campbell more than held his own as the players traded a series of mostly overhand rights for about 30 seconds before the officials intervened.

Callahan's toughness lifts Rangers

Tuesday, 03.22.2011 / 1:19 PM / Ford Tough Performance of the Week

Hockey players are notorious for taking sticks and pucks to the face during a game and later returning to the ice.

Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers wrote his own chapter in that book Sunday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he didn't just come back to the game -- he scored the decisive goal.

It was the third period at Consol Energy Center and the Rangers and Penguins were tied 1-1 when Matt Cooke delivered the now infamous elbow to Ryan McDonagh that earned the Pittsburgh forward a suspension through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs.

At the time, Cooke received a five-minute major that put the Rangers in position to jump in front. However, it was the Penguins who first took advantage, getting a Chris Kunitz shorthanded goal to take the lead.
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