Some say the hipcheck is a lost art in the NHL, but you’d be hard pressed to find a Vancouver fan that feels this way. The offseason additions of Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis, two defenders that love to hip check, made going wide versus the Canucks a downright dicey proposition. Eventually, even Aaron Rome fell in love with the hit, giving the Canucks three guys who could surprise with a hipcheck at seemingly any moment. The result: perhaps the only team in the NHL for whom the hipcheck was common.
I’m not sure Canucks fans realized how spoiled they were this season. With that in mind, PITB has compiled a countdown of the five finest hipchecks thrown by the boys in blue and green in the 2010-11:
5 Keith Ballard on Viktor Stalberg
This is a perfectly timed hit, as Ballard comes across the defensive zone to meet Stalberg at the exact moment he reaches the puck. Stalberg is likely expecting a simply bodycheck, but Ballard turns and throws the hip into him instead, absolutely stapling him to the boards.
4 Aaron Rome on Ladislav Smid
Rome didn’t hipcheck much last season, but Hamhuis and Ballard have clearly inspired him. This is his best of many thrown hips, as he steps into Smid and earns extra points on the follow through.
3 Keith Ballard on Evgeni Malkin
This is a monster hip check on a monster guy. It’s also a beautiful defensive play. Malkin’s beaten a lot of d-men one on one with his size and speed, but Ballard recovers quickly to take away his lane, then takes the big Penguins center to the corner with a completely unexpected hit.
2 Dan Hamhuis on Douglas Murray
My goodness, this is a beautiful hit. Hamhuis times this perfectly, leading Murray to the boards with his body position, and then sending him ass over teakettle the moment he reaches the glass.
1 Keith Ballard on Drew Miller
The finest hipcheck of the year comes when Keith Ballard steps into Drew Miller. It’s similar to the one Ballard put on Malkin, but this one is downright obscene. Miller goes flying, and the look on his face when he gets up is priceless. He has no idea what just happened.
- – - – - – - – - – Bonus Hipchecks! – - – - – - – - – -
If those five stellar hipchecks aren’t enough for you, or if maybe you thought I was kidding when I said the hit was common in Vancouver, here are ten more.