Souray takes care of pests

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

DENVER -- It was bad news for the 59% of respondents in a recent poll who admitted that they're lacking in hockey knowledge.

And it was really bad news for Minnesota's Craig Weller and Vancouver Mattias Ohlund.

But there's fighting in hockey, baby, and Sheldon Souray is winning some big ones.

He dropped Ohlund with a right hand last week against Vancouver and completely destroyed Weller with so many lefts he was begging for a right Thursday in Minnesota.

For a guy who wasn't supposed to be fighting that much this season on account of a sore wrist and a surgically repaired shoulder, Souray is cutting a pretty impressive swath through the Northwest Division.

"I've always been a physical guy," said Souray. "I'm not going to have 15 fights a year anymore, but if it happens once in a while it's part of the game."

Souray dropped Ohlund after he hit Erik Cole from behind and had a running battle with Weller all game until he'd finally had enough in the third period.

"There's times when you have to be selective, be aware of the situation, but I think that was coming from the first period," said Souray. "There was a little bit of history. The very first shift he took a swipe at me in front of the bench, told me to watch my stick. The second period he took a couple of runs at me, took runs at other guys and was yapping at our bench. And just before (the fight) he'd hit me, which I thought was avoidable.

"Sometimes things happen. I'm not out there to fight. I'd rather be out there to even the game on the scoreboard."

Souray doesn't fight often, but the 6-foot-4, 233-pounder clearly knows what he's doing. A dazed and groggy Weller had to be helped to his feet afterward.

"I've been on the other side of that, it happens," said Souray, who did a lot of fighting in his early years.

"It's funny how everything's evolved because when I came into the league, that's what I did - I fought. That's what I had to do to stay. Fight and be defensive. Then I went to 64 points and minus-28 and (was considered) a terrible defensive player.

"Now I'm back to here."

Here, meaning on pace for about 60 points, fighting when he needs to and hanging around even in the plus-minus stats.

Smid's cleaning house

Ladislav Smid is making good on a call to be more assertive. He's cleaning house in front of his own net.

"I talked to (Craig MacTavish) about it - he wants me to be physical, I'm a big guy, I should use my pounds," said Smid, who's 6-foot-3, 226 lbs.

Playing tougher means sometimes dropping the gloves, which some Europeans have trouble with. But not him.

"Now it's part of my game," he said. "If somebody is going to ask me, I'm going to drop the gloves.

"It's part of the game, it doesn't really matter if you're European or Canadian, you're there to do your job."


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