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The Thrill of the Hit

Doug Pensinger

Who doesn't love a huge center ice hit? The guy who's on the receiving end, for one. But for the fans of the guy who delivered it, it's like a bolt of lightning crashing down on the ice and electrifying the building. The Avalanche is a lucky team as the hits are spread across the roster. Currently, Jamie McGuinn leads the team with seven hits in only two games. Two-thirds of the defenseman are tied for second with four hits a piece: Erik Johnson, Nate Guenin, Cory Sarich, and Jan Hejda. Four players on the team, however, have a history of big, awe-inspiring hits, and its those guys we're going to highlight today.

Ryan Wilson

The boy didn't earn the nickname Mack Truck for nothing. After a massive hit on Patrick Elias, the Devils' forward said that "getting hit by (Wilson) felt like I got hit by a truck." Though many players on the receiving end of Wilson's checks may not admit it, they certainly all feel that way. He has an uncanny ability to line guys up and time the hit just right so that it's clean, powerful, and absolutely effective. As an observer, it looks like it's slow motion even in real time. You often find yourself wonder, "Doesn't that guy see Wilson has him in his crosshairs?" It's like they get mesmerized and just can't turn away. One could look forever, trying to find Wilson's best hit, but there are far too many that fit the bill. It's worth trying, though, because it never gets old watching Sauce destroy people.

Gabriel Landeskog

He may be young, but the Avalanche captain knows how to throw that Adonis-like body around. He proved he was more than just a pretty face in his rookie season, leading the Avs in hits, and landing in the NHL's top-20, with 219 of those suckers. Though some look only to points when considering who should win the Calder trophy, there's a good chance that those voting valued Landy's physicality when naming him Rookie of the Year. That punishing presence continued into his sophomore year, despite being a bigger target by other teams. Even being on the receiving end of a big hit that left him concussed for much of the season, Landeskog kept his form and continued to deliver massive, keep-your-head-up hits. And don't even think he'll shy away from knocking the biggest and baddest of the league on their asses.

Cody McLeod

There can be only one, indeed. In addition to being a first rate agitator and a fisticuffs master, McLeod brings the hits. Once the ginger gets the McLeod Face on, the other guys better watch it. He doesn't discriminate; he'll hit anybody who gets in his way, even former teammates. The Highlander likes to deliver his hits in the corners, taking "finishing your check" to a whole other level. And don't think that having other big Avalanche hitters on the ice is going to stop him, either. He's always going for the kill if given the chance—'cuz that's what he does.

Patrick Bordeleau

Bordy Smash. When a guy hits as big as Patrick Bordeleau does, it deserves its own name. And while he may get a lot of calls for his physicality, often it's unwarranted and a result of something he just can't help. A boy as big as Bordy does damage, even when he doesn't mean to. Hell, the rink isn't safe with Bordeleau is around. If you go on YouTube and type in "Patrick Bordeleau Hits," you'll be there forever watching him absolutely destroy guys. Hitting Wilson may be like hitting a truck, but hitting Bordy is like hitting a cinder block wall. You go down hard. He skates away like a fly just bumped into him. Clearly, there are times when Bordy is simply going for the hit. He's new to the big show and wants to make an impression. That he has, making it to the NHL's top hits list more than once. When Patrick Bordeleau hits the ice, the other team knows it. Nobody skates with his head down because he knows a Bordy Smash is coming if he does.