You just can't allow an opponent to hit your star players; it's as simple as that, Lightning left wing Ryan Malone said.

That is why during Tampa Bay's victory over the Sabres on Tuesday, Malone squared off with Robyn Regehr, who had crushed captain Vinny Lecavalier with a bruising, but clean, check.

You can't let an opponent threaten a teammate, Steve Downie said. That is why in the same game, the right wing traded blows with Patrick Kaleta.

To call either player an enforcer is a stretch — "I don't think either of us is taking that title," Downie said — but on a team without a true heavyweight, Downie and Malone are as close as it gets.