Alex Ovechkin is third in league scoring with 54 points and sixth in hits with 139. (Getty Images)
Tampa Bay right winger Evgeny Artyukhin has been in the news recently. The 6-foot-5, 254-pound Russian bear has been throwing bodychecks like it’s nobody’s business, moving into the league’s top-10 hit-dishers with 114 and making life a little more painful for opponents such as Alex Tanguay and, more recently, rookie blueliner Drew Doughty.
With hits on the brain, we decided to look at the NHL’s top-60 bodycheckers in terms of total number delivered, pick out the 10 best overall players and rank them in order of our preference.
10. Dustin Brown, Right Wing, Los Angeles
The Kings captain does it all for his team, leads, scores and throws his weight around. With 157 hits, Brown is second in the league.
9. Marc Staal, Defense, NY Rangers
Staal’s 97 hits put him 24th in the league. The sophomore isn’t flashy, but he leads the Blueshirts in plus-minus and plays 20-plus minutes a game.
8. Milan Lucic, Left Wing, Boston
The comparisons to Cam Neely are premature, but the burgeoning behemoth is third in the NHL in hits with 154 and is already a fan favorite in Beantown. Oh, he also has 11 goals, 26 points and is plus-16.
7. Shane Doan, Left Wing, Phoenix
Captain Coyote is the best player on his team, easily. The ninth most prolific bodychecker in the league with 115 hits, Doan is also tied for 18th in NHL scoring with 18 goals and 42 points.
6. Mike Komisarek, Defense, Montreal
Komisarek is fast becoming the Robyn Regehr of the East. The Habs’ go-to shutdown defender sits 32nd with 93 hits thrown, in just 26 games.
5. Shea Weber, Defense, Nashville
The NHL leader in goals scored by a defenseman also punishes opponents physically. Weber is tied for 26th with 95 hits thrown this season.
4. Mike Richards, Center, Philadelphia
Mr. Flyer is 16th in scoring with 44 points, is a plus-15, plays in every situation and has dished out 79 hits, good for eighth among NHL centers.
3. Ryan Getzlaf, Center, Anaheim
At 6-foot-4, 221 pounds Getzlaf is a physical specimen who enjoys punishing opponents. He comes in at No. 45 in hits this season with 84 and sits tied for sixth in league scoring with 50 points.
2. Zdeno Chara, Defense, Boston
Chara is one of the few players in the world who can control a game with physical play when he’s not doing it with the puck on (or like Tuesday night, coming off) his stick. The big Slovak is 29th in the league with 94 hits, plays more than 26 minutes per game and is a plus-22.
1. Alex Ovechkin, Left Wing, Washington
When you’re the best player in the world and sit sixth in bodychecks delivered with 139, you’re going to top any list of this kind. The reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy-winner is working on another hardware-gathering season and bringing smiles to the faces of fans around the league.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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