The Pittsburgh Penguins will be taking on the New York Islanders on October 25, 2011. It will be this season's first meeting between the two teams, who combined for 16 fights in six games last season.
What started off as ordinary rough play between two Atlantic Division rivals early in the season exploded into an all-out brawl game on February 11, 2011. This was due in part due to questionable hits and actions from the Penguins, in part due to frustration and anger from the Islanders.
Here is a look back at last season's fights, their causes, and a potential preview of what could happen this year.
The only action prior to this hit was a fight between heavyweights Trevor Gillies and Eric Godard.
Then, Kris Letang of the Penguins applied a hard hit to to Blake Comeau. Josh Bailey attempted to stick up for his injured teammate by fighting Letang, but could not get much of a fight going.
This game featured a fight between Zenon Konopka and Craig Adams that Konopka won.
However, this scrum in overtime should be noted for its contribution to the growing enmity between the two teams.
Players always protect their goaltender, regardless of whether or not the whistle has blown; it was only a matter of time before the Islanders responded to the extra whacks by Chris Kunitz.
The game began with a fight just 26 into the first period, with Tyler Kennedy of Pittsburgh beating Travis Hamonic.
Less than 1:30 later, Arron Asham beat Zenon Konopka in this fight.
This was the game that caused the brawl game.
Pittsburgh's Max Talbot put a target on himself with a shift early in the game, applying hits to both Jack Hillen and Blake Comeau.
The hit on Comeau is likely what caused the Islanders to be so irate with Talbot. Roughly 6:20 into the game, Comeau approached the boards and cleared a puck out. Talbot came from behind him, and launched into Comeau's side. Comeau sustained a concussion.
The game had its first fight in the second period, with Konopka and Mike Rupp squaring-off.
As the game wound down, one of the most memorable fights of the season occurred. When Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke skated too close to Rick DiPietro's crease, the goalie put his blocker out.
This resulted in Islanders players going after Cooke. Away from the scrum, Pittsburgh's goalie Brent Johnson skated down the ice, challenging DiPietro.
After the netminders shed their gloves and helmets, Johnson won by dropping DiPietro with one punch, breaking his orbital bone as well.
Take note of Marc-Andre Fleury's reaction to the fight; laughing at an injured opponent.
Here is where the Islanders decided they were not going to take any more.
They were not going to put up with being pushed around, injured, or laughed at. The team collectively decided to send a clear message to their opponents with their actions.
Enough is enough.
The first fight of the game was Micheal Haley of the Islanders beating Craig Adams.
Next, Godard and Gillies fought again.
Then Matt Martin decided he was going to get back at Talbot for his hits in the previous game. Martin went after Talbot and caused two fights.
Another fight nearly started when Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik pushed Michael Grabner into Johnson.
Then everything went wild.
Gillies went after Tangradi and Haley skated down to fight Johnson after delivering a beating to Talbot. During the scrum, Godard pulled a move any enforcer should be proud of; he jumped off the bench to protect his goalie.
With under four minutes to go in the game, another scrum occurred, highlighted by Konopka going after Letang and Talbot.
The last fight of the night was between Joe Vitale and Andy MacDonald.
By the end of the game, the Islanders had not only destroyed the Penguins on the scoreboard, winning 8-3, but beat them up in a physical sense as well.
The last game between the two last season was heavily controlled by the referees, who gave 10 minute misconduct penalties to any player who fought.
The NHL was somewhat successful in its attempt to curb excitement and hide the passion that hockey's intensity brings.
Gillies beat Godard in the first fight, whereas Konopka and Arron Asham fought to a draw later on.
During this offseason, the Penguins let Godard—their heavyweight enforcer—leave for the Dallas Stars, Rupp to the New York Rangers, and Talbot signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. The Islanders did not resign Konopka, who now plays for the Ottawa Senators. Haley is playing in the AHL.
Pittsburgh made up for their losses in a big way by signing Steve MacIntyre, the NHL's best fighter.
MacIntyre has the hardest punch in hockey right now. His opening night knockout of Raitis Ivanans last season was one of the NHL's greatest of all-time. Ivanans has not played since.
He can end careers with one hand.
The Penguins have used MacIntyre in just four of their 10 games thus far, but he will likely be in the lineup against Gillies and the Islanders on Tuesday.
In addition to MacIntyre, the Penguins' tough squad still contains Asham and Deryk Engelland. The Islanders still have Gillies and Martin.
Though it is a new season and certain firestarters like Talbot and Konopka have moved on, both squads have plenty of toughness left.
An all-out brawl is unlikely to occur again, but it's safe to expect a fight between MacIntyre and Gillies, and possibly Martin vs. Engelland.
For Penguins fans, it should be comforting to know that this time around, they have the better heavyweight.