Hockey is a tough game, and isn't for the feint at heart.
Steven Stamkos found this out a few days ago when he took a hard slapshot directly to the kisser.
As a player I have taken several pucks to the face—hard to believe when looking at my beautiful mug, I know—and I can tell you that this hurts as bad as you think it does. Anyone who has experienced taking one to the nose or jaw will attest to this.
Of course, Stamkos didn't miss much time and came back with a face shield to finish the epic Game 7. So in the honor of Stamkos and every other warrior who has eaten a rubber sandwich, here are the worst pucks to the face ever caught on tape.
As a side note, I'd love to hear your most ridiculous hockey tough guy stories. Seen something insane in the minors? Witnessed anything crazy in a weekend league? Or, even better, been the hero of the story yourself?
Well what are you waiting for? Share the tale in the comments and bask in the glory that is hockey toughness!
In case you missed it, this is the shot that inspired this video show.
Steven Stamkos had zero chance to react to this shot as it deflected off the stick of Marty St. Louis just a few feet in front of him.
It doesn't take a physics professor to tell you that the time to react is null, and Stamer takes one right to the nose. He was only out for about five minutes of game time before returning to play, you know, professional hockey.
What kills me about the play is that Stamkos pops up after a few seconds, and throws his helmet as if to say "what an inconvenience." Not because he just got smoked in the head, but because he was now bloodied up and knew he was going to miss some time.
Rockets for skates, rocket for a shot, and tough as hell to boot.
Tampa, pay this kid!
This was a scary one.
If Josh Gorges doesn't turn his head here we could be talking about something else entirely. Like a player losing his sight to a puck. Reconstructive surgery even.
But that's a Mike Green slapshot to the chops.
There is no denying that this is one of the hardest shots absorbed in recent memory. Just as Pierre McGuire says in the commentary: "If that's not an eye opener for eye protection, I don't know what is."
Needless to say, it's a good thing Gorges was wearing an eye guard.
Great response in Montreal with the ovation as he skated off under his own power. It warms me a bit to see players on the opposing team responding with such urgency when plays like this happen.
It's almost as if Jordan Staal saw this coming.
The slow-motion replay shows him wincing even as his stick is moving towards Colin White. But that doesn't mean there was more than a split second to react.
And boy, on this one there wasn't.
This is the aftermath.
Staal came back after five stitches and some glue But it sure didn't tickle. "Puck to the face, here it is" indeed.
64 stitches—That's about a quilt's worth of needlework.
No need to inform Andrej Meszaros of that, since that is how many stitches he needed to his face after eating this no-look slapper.
This is one of those plays that happens so fast that the puck is careening to the boards, and the blocking player is going down before the shooter even has the chance to look up and see where he launched the disc.
Meszaros didn't return to finish the game. As it turns out, it takes time to fix up that much flesh in the locker room. Apparently they were trying to get him fixed up to return.
If hockey players aren't the toughest athletes on the planet, then I don't know who are.
There are few players in the league who can fire a puck on the fly like Alexander Ovechkin. The torque on his stick on this play should be enough to make you wince away from the screen as it is.
That poor goaltender, right?
That's an AO slapshot right to the flesh of the face from point-blank.
The puck was rolling on the side as the rebound popped back out towards the blueline, and Ovie does one of the things he does best: he launches a quick, corner picking slapshot from inside the slot.
And now Hillen can tell his kids that he knows what it feels like to catch one of the harder shots in the League to the face, and can probably show them a scar to boot.
Props to Ovie and the Caps for hanging around the downed player. It seemed like no one was more concerned on the play than the Great 8, and while he has a reputation as a competitor to say the least, it's good to see that wall come down so quickly.
Shots to the face rarely are worse than this.
Patrik Elias of the Devils launches a rocket with the intent of hitting a corner and turning this into a one-goal hockey game.
Instead, Philippe Boucher takes one of the most devastating pucks to the face that I've ever seen. There is no deflection here. It wasn't an attempted clear. This was a full-wind up shot.
The announcers' reaction pretty much says it all.
I remember seeing this one live.
Ryan Malone, being the warrior that he is, doesn't stay down long, but a Hal Gill slapshot to the kisser didn't feel good to say the least.
I'll never forget those gloves popping off immediately as the play callers mention that Malone has already broken his nose in this Finals series.
So rewind... Malone has a broken nose as it stands, then takes a heat-seeking puck directly to the nose? And bounces back up like it didn't happen?
Kudos to Malone for having an insane amount of pain tolerance. I can't imagine taking pucks to the same area within a week or so of another.
Bruises on bruises. Cuts on cuts.
Mike Green doesn't have the reputation as a blueliner who will lay down in front of every puck that heads his way.
Whether or not that is warranted is a discussion for another time. The fact is that Green was leveled by a last-second Brooks Orpik shot with time winding down, and had about that much time to react.
Green has been a bit of a gluten for punishment in his short career (seriously, youtube or google it) and this is no exception. Puck to the face to match a mohawk.
So be it.
He comes back like always. Rep or not, this is a tough player making tough plays from time to time.
This play is included because it is, in one word, ridiculous.
Brenden Morrow takes a puck to the chin, plays the rebound without missing a beat and buries the goal to go up one-zip early in the game.
It doesn't have the velocity of, say, a shot from Zdeno Chara, but most people flinch if they have a paper airplane thrown at their face.
Not Morrow. He'll take a puck to the face, and play it through, thank-you-very-much.
Just an outstanding play by one of the tougher guys in the League today.
This is a strange play compared to the others because James Wisniewski was right on top of things, and is turning to poke check Jordan Eberle as the puck gets lifted directly into his face.
He wasn't standing still in front of the net—on either side of the play—and wasn't sliding to block a shot. It's odd because the lift is so rapid and so quick.
Wisniewski really didn't have a chance, and he paid the price on this shot.
During his short tenure in Montreal, he became a fan favorite of sorts. The toughness displayed on this shot demonstrates why.