** Disclaimer: This post is guaranteed to have absolutely nothing to do with Peter Budaj or Jose Theodore **
This morning I was looking over the stats for the Avs over the last 10 games. There were a few eye-raising numbers: Svatos leading the team in goals, points and +/-. Hannan with a 2nd best +/- (+5). Leopold second on the team in goals (with, gulp, just 3). Liles 2nd on the team in blocked shots (he's just 4 away from matching his total from all of last season). And Brett Clark, tied with Finger in hits over the last 10 games (his improved physical play has been noticeable).
And, in fact, the hits column was the one most interesting to me. Look at the four forwards with double-digit totals in hits over the last 10 days: Lappy, Guite, McLeod, McCormick. That got me thinking - I wonder how much our hitting has improved as we've brought up physical guys like the Codys. (And, yes, I know the Hit stat is not all that great, but it's pretty much all I have to work with).
Here's our hit totals for the season, broken up on a monthly basis. Note that McCormick is already 2nd among forwards despite missing the first 19 games of the season. On the right side of the list, you'll see the totals for October, November and December. Our hits per game has increased from 10.9 to 13.8, a 28% jump. If you look at just the forwards, it's an even bigger improvement - from 5.7 to 8.1 per game...a whopping 42% gain.
Unquestionably, this team has become more physical since Cody McCormick and Cody McLeod have joined the roster. For the first time in a while, we can field a forward line with 3 physical players and still have muscle left to ride shotgun with the more skilled lines. I think many of us have been complaining for years that the team isn't physical enough. It looks like our wishes have finally been answered.