As part of our Monday Meetups, we “check” in with the teams that are checking the most this season. As you know, checking is a popular defense technique that is done in and out of the NHL. It is designed to disrupt an opponent who has possession of the puck. A successful check will separate the opponent entirely from the puck and is not considered a penalty.
The Los Angeles Kings definitely checked the most last year – 2016-17 season. In fact, the Kings amassed 2,323 hits in 82 games. That was approximately 28.3 hits per game season. This was somewhat of a rarity since the Kings were – and are still – known to be a finesse team. However, the team revamped its defense last season to secure a more aggressive style of play. Sadly, the team did not advance into the playoffs or post-season despite their physical play.
The Kings practiced several plays near the boards last season. This allowed them to wither the puck away from many opponents. However, their aggression somewhat backfired, as they were not able to advance into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Still, this was a lesson to all teams that if you utilize checking the right way – it can truly elevate your game and win matches.
The Edmonton Oilers are checking the most this year – 2017-18 season. In fact, the Oilers are averaging about 30.8 hits per game. However, they are currently in second-to-last place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. With this in mind, it does not look like the Oilers will make the Playoffs or post-season. Still, the season just got underway last month so you never know!
The Arizona Coyotes are not too far behind with 25.5 hits per game. The Coyotes have been playing some great hockey so far this season. This includes a number of defensive techniques that Head Coach Rick Tocchet has implemented. However, they are in last place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. This means that their aggressive style of play and hits are not converting into game winners. We will monitor the Coyotes – and all NHL teams – as the season progresses. Here are some more hit/check leaders so far this season:
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