Checking is one of a defenseman’s most important tactics in hockey. Effectively forcing the puck away from an opponent by force is a skill that is often associated with larger defensemen. Luckily, the idea that you need to be big to check hard has been proven wrong by some of the NHL’s most valuable undersized players. Check out five players that have proven that sometimes the toughest teammates come in small packages.

Torey Krug

At 5 feet 9 inches, Torey Krug definitely isn’t one of the most massive physical powerhouses in the NHL. Yet that doesn’t mean that Krug doesn’t know how to check hard. This Boston Bruins defenseman weighs in at just 186 pounds. Though size isn’t necessarily on his side, Krug is known for pairing brains with brawn to get the puck away from his opponent.

Brad Marchand

Weighing in at only 183 pounds, this Boston Bruins forward has proven his worth to the team time and time again. Marchand is known for scoring some serious goals — he scored 39 goals in the 2016-2017 season — though he isn’t always famous for his consistency. Not bad for a guy who’s only 5 feet 9 inches.

Conor Sheary

This 5 feet 8 inches Penguins left wing doesn’t shy away from the occasional hard check. In fact, he’s been known to deliver some jaw-dropping and match-stopping big checks. In the May 2017 match against the New Jersey Devils, Sheary checked Marcus Johansson so hard, he stopped the rush into the second period.

Mats Zuccarello

New York Ranger Mats Zuccarello is only 5 feet 7 inches. Yet, it doesn’t mean that he can’t throw a hip check like a guy twice his size. In this March 2017 match against the Boston Bruins, Zuccarello impressively checked Dominic Moore so effortlessly that Moore was unable to avoid it.

Erik Karlsson

The Ottawa Senators hopefully knew they had a diamond in the rough when they signed on Erik Karlsson. This 174-pound defenseman checked Buffalo Sabres’ defenseman Nathan Beaulieu seriously hard back in 2015. Beaulieu towers over Karlsson at 6 feet 2 inches, which proves that checking isn’t all about brute force.

Though most of these players are under 6 feet, they are still able to check guys much larger than them. While height and weight can definitely help a player check hard, the ability to check hard clearly isn’t exclusive to large players.

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