The Carolina Hurricanes could be considered a bit of a paradox so far this season. While they are listed as one of the smallest and lightest teams in the NHL, they also are second in the league in hits.
According to a compilation of height and weight stats over at Pension Plan Puppets, the Canes are the lightest team in the NHL as well as being the second shortest team in the league. The club has acquired Ian White, Ryan Carter, and Troy Bodie since that report was created, but still, Anton Babchuk is much bigger than White (on paper), and Tom Kostopoulos is listed almost as big as Carter.
Bodie is a man mountain, which might tilt the scales a little bit, but still, the Hurricanes remain one of the smallest teams in the league.
So how are they among the leaders in physicality?
While the team leaders in hits aren't exactly huge in stature, they are both solid players. Tuomo Ruutu is listed at 6'0, 200 and Tim Gleason is also 6'0, 217.
Ruutu is second in the league with 199 hits while Gleason is 16th with 132. Gleason has the fifth highest number of hits for defensemen in the league.
But the hits don't stop there. The Canes have a total of five skaters ranked within the top 30 hitters in the NHL.
Chad LaRose is at number 23, Erik Cole is 25, and Patrick Dwyer is 28. LaRose and Dwyer are among the smallest players on the team.
This seems to prove that size doesn't matter when it comes to hitting out on the ice. Anyone can do it, if they want to. And hitting appears to be a factor with the success of this team.
Does constant hitting throughout a game take its toll on an opponent? It sure looks like it could, especially when Carolina has a lead heading into the final part of a game. The Hurricanes are 17-0-0 when leading after two periods.
Another interesting tidbit is that the team is fourth in the league in takeaways with 437, making it appear that the hitting and forechecking is effective. Erik Cole leads the team with 43 takeaways, good for 16th best in the league. Eric Staal is 18th with 42.
Unlike giveaways, which are counted when a player turns over the puck on his own, takeaways are counted when defensive pressure causes that turnover. Of course not all hits cause turnovers, but they could cause some. And since the Hurricanes are fourth in the league in that takeaway category, they must be doing a decent job with their hitting, forechecking, and defensive pressure.
(For those of you who are curious, the Canes are 22nd in the league in giveaways.)
Carolina will certainly need to keep the hitting up if the club wants to make the postseason this year.
We will soon find out if the boys can remain physical, even against a bigger Boston team tonight.