Wayne Simmonds

Dirty Work: Net-front guys play vital role in NHL playoffs

There's a bit of masochist in Patric Hornqvist. Has to be.

How else to explain the thrill the Pittsburgh Penguins forward gets by planting himself in front of an opposing net and daring someone — be it a goaltender or defender typically within a stick's reach of him — to move him out of the way by any means necessary?

Over the course of three periods on a given night, Hornqvist will be punched, pushed, slashed (both legally and illegally) and generally treated as a piñata on skates. And here's the thing. He likes it. A lot. The smile on his face even as he's being chopped to the ice is a dead giveaway.

"I think he finds comfort in being a pain in the...