Just how good is Keith Ballard’s hipcheck on Jamie McGinn? Well, in a game where Henrik Sedin orchestrated a 2-on-1 goal with the unprecented decision to pass the puck through the goaltender’s legs, Ballard’s hit on McGinn still may have been the best play of yesterday’s Game 4. For my money, it is, especially because this isn’t just a regular hipcheck; this is a heady reaction play from the best hipcheck artist on the Canucks, and maybe the NHL.
At this play begins to develop, one might think McGinn is in control. Both men will be arriving at the puck about the same time, but McGinn has no plans to play it. Instead, he sees an opportunity to do to Keith Ballard what he did to both Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome in Game 3. While Ballard has just turned to retrieve the puck, essentially rendering him flat-footed, McGinn is coming down the boards at full speed. He takes his stick off the ice and begins to lower his shoulder for a huge hit.
Ballard sees it and immediately formulates a counterattack. While McGinn is thinking shoulder to shoulder, Ballard is humming Weezer’s Island in the Sun (which is to say, he’s thinking hip-hip). No surprise from the man we call Hips.
The genius is, unlike McGinn, Ballard doesn’t give anything away. While a lot of people telegraph their hipchecks, Ballard plays possum by staying fully upright as the gap between the two men closes. He waits until the exact moment McGinn throws his frame forward at full speed, then he drops his torso, ducking away from McGinn’s intended point of contact and flipping both the tables and McGinn himself. The result is this:
Picture perfect. I like the checkmark where McGinn used to be, as though Ballard just unlocked an achievement on XBox Live.Tags: Ballard, featured, Hips, Hits, I want to marry that hipcheck, Jamie McGinn, Keith Ballard