Top 5

Kyle Clifford

Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford is known for taking — and receiving — some of the most punishing checks in the NHL. He lists teammates Dustin Brown and Matt Greene among the hardest hitters in the game. Who are his hardest-hitting opponents?



  1. Ryane Clowe

  2. Milan Lucic

  3. Niklas Kronwall

  4. Cal Clutterbuck

  5. Alexander Ovechkin



NHL Confidential

James NealTravis Mathew Apparel specializes in casual menswear for on and off the golf course. It’s a favorite of Wayne Gretzky as well as current NHL stars James Neal, Dustin Penner, Scottie Upshall and Ryan Getzlaf. “That laid-back, SoCal athletic vibe resonates with a lot of guys who want to look good during an off-day on the golf course,” said Leif Sunderland, the marketing director for the Seal Beach, Calif.-based retailer. travismathew.com.

JP

Watch: Connor McDavid toe-drags his way into our hearts.

One day into the “second half” of the NHL season, Connor McDavid reminded us why he was the number one pick last summer by shredding the Columbus Blue Jackets defense for a beautiful breakaway goal. Thanks, Connor.

Detroit Rock City: On the road with a Division 1 hockey team.

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series following the Northern Michigan University hockey team to the Great Lakes Invitational.

MICHIGAN

After three days’ worth of practices, game day for Northern Michigan University arrived on a Tuesday. The Wildcats fit in another short practice late that morning to try and tweak any remaining issues. When it was time to go back to Joe Louis Arena just before 5 p.m., I could feel things change. The team was still a little loose during the morning skate; now the Wildcats were all business. When they arrived at JLA, most of the guys stretched, while others fixed their equipment, rode the exercise bike and got taped by the trainers. Starting goalie Atte Tolvanen went through a much different routine.

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Detroit Rock City: On the road with a Division 1 hockey team.

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Photo by Ryan Stieg

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a 2-part series following the Northern Michigan University hockey team to the Great Lakes Invitational.

MICHIGAN

The bus I’m sitting on is warm, but it’s getting colder outside. I can see the players’ breath as they load their gear into the compartments of the bus. It makes me glad that I didn’t linger boarding this thing. As I sit on the bus, I start to get nervous. I rarely get nervous at my job anymore, but this would be a new experience as I was attempting to do something that no sports writer in the Upper Peninsula, and possibly college hockey, had done before. I just hoped that people would enjoy it.
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Watch: Claude Giroux wins faceoff — by scoring a goal.

An elite hockey player’s reflexes are often difficult to appreciate in real time. They’re tough to replicate in the All-Star skills competition. Today, though, they were laid bare when Claude Giroux scored a goal in the second period tonight in San Jose.

Giroux scored from the faceoff circle when the referee dropped the puck and the Philadelphia Flyers forward snapped off a puck with plenty of English on it, fooling Martin Jones. Check it out:

Credit the official with an assist for putting the puck right where Giroux was looking for it.

Hawks start to soar.

It’s early on a Friday night, but the Ralph Engelstad Arena is already rocking. Just minutes before the puck drops at center ice, the lights go down in the arena and the cheering somehow manages to get louder. The players gather in the tunnel and slowly emerge from the shadows as they approach the ice.

The PA announcer bellows from the rafters. “Here come your Fightiiiiiiing Hawks!”

Sigh. It’s just not the same.

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‘John Scott, All Star’ has a funny ring to it. Embrace it.

John Scott hockey

There’s a reason that Danny DeVito is starring in a series of coffee commercials alongside George Clooney these days. Someone once let a 5-foot tall man into Hollywood and we kept laughing, laughing, laughing. First there was Taxi, then Twins, then Batman Returns, then It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, to the point where a couple years ago this real-life penguin had enough power and status in town that he was able to sleep around with enough women to force his wife to file for separation rather than passively tolerate his philandering. And, yes, he makes George Clooney seem like the dashing leading man he is when the two sip a cup of Nespresso side-by-side — as if Danny DeVito was needed to propagate that image of Clooney.

In Hollywood, DeVito is somewhere between a talent and a novelty act, not quite enough of one to elude the other label.

So it is with John Scott.

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Watch: Anaheim Ducks fans can’t recognize a heavily disguised Ryan Kesler.

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler went undercover during a preseason game at Honda Center, and had some fun at the expense of some fans — and even a teammate. (He gets Corey Perry’s autograph at a concession stand, then charges him for popcorn.)

Check out the video, which the Ducks uploaded to YouTube today:

College hockey is heating up again.

With the summer temperatures still going strong, it might not seem like hockey season yet, but here we are. Time to make room on a shelf full of high school and college football for my favorite sport. Without further ado, here’s my 2015-16 college hockey preview.

Just four years ago, the Frozen Four was in Tampa for the first time. This year, it’s back. Last time, Boston College won its fifth national title, its third in five years, and the Eagles are No. 1 to start this season. It may seem like the Eagles are destined to win title No. 6, but that’s not the case. Even though the Eastern schools have been the teams to beat the last few years, winning the last four titles, the west is starting to gain some ground again and that’s where I’ll start off.

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Can the Chicago Blackhawks repeat in 2015-16?

NHL_StanleyCup_StyleGuide_2016.inddWednesday night, the National Hockey League regular season returns with 30 teams beginning their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

For the third time in six years, Chicago begins a season as the defending champion. This time, the Blackhawks are in their best position ever to repeat. Chicago’s most likely challenger is Anaheim, which underwent a serious off-season overhaul after falling one win short of the 2015 Final. Helping the Ducks is the team’s station as the best in the Pacific Division, which is surprisingly the weakest in the league.

Overall, the parity-based NHL suffers from a serious imbalance in both conferences. The Central and Metropolitan divisions are far stronger top to bottom than either the Atlantic or the Pacific. A team with a better record (a sixth-place team, likely in the Central) might be left out of the postseason in favor of a third-place team with a weaker record.

How will 2015-16 shake out? Here is my 30-team season preview, broken down in 30 words or less:
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Eight potentially fascinating things about the 2015-16 NHL season.

Hockey is back.

There are old faces in new places (Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello in Toronto). There are new faces in old places (Slava Voynov in Russia). Jaromir Jagr is still employed in the NHL, joining Chris Chelios and Gordie Howe as a rare “once in a couple different generations” player.

Already a treasure trove of storylines have emerged, with more on the way. Here are eight to whet your appetite for the upcoming season:

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  • NHL Capsules February 8, 2016
    WASHINGTON - Alex Ovechkin became the third player in NHL history to reach 30 goals in each of his first 11 seasons, and Braden Holtby made 33 saves as the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Sunday. Ovechkin joined Wayne ...
  • Bruins prospect Subban in stable condition after fracturing larynx February 7, 2016
    BOSTON - Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban is in stable condition after fracturing his larynx during an American Hockey League game on Saturday. The Bruins said in a statement on their website Sunday that Subban was transporte...
  • Okposo's hat trick lifts Islanders to 8-1 rout of Oilers February 7, 2016
    NEW YORK, N.Y. - Kyle Okposo scored a hat trick after the Islanders opened a commanding early lead with three first-period goals as New York routed the last-place Edmonton Oilers 8-1 on Sunday. Thomas Greiss made 30 saves for the Islanders (2...
  • OHL Roundup: Matthew Tkachuk's hat trick leads Knights past Sting 4-3 February 7, 2016
    LONDON, Ont. - Matthew Tkachuk had a hat trick to lead the London Knights past the Sarnia Sting 4-3 on Sunday in Ontario Hockey League action. Tkachuk's third goal came on the power play and tied the game 3-3 for the Knights (36-11-3) at the ...
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