Things are pretty heavy in California these days, with all three teams from that state making our list of 'heavyweight' teams. And while playing a heavy game is not a guaranteed recipe for success, playing a light can be disastrous.
It’s interesting to see how new terms infiltrate themselves into the hockey consciousness. It used to be the puck went along the boards, but now it’s the wall. Teams that control the play are said to have good puck management. Forwards who follow up the play properly are showing good puck support.
The latest word to enter the conversation is ‘heavy.’ (And we don’t mean heavy the same way Marty McFly did in Back to the Future. To which Doc replied, “There’s that word again. Heavy. Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the earth’s gravitational pull?) Big teams that control and cycle the puck and are difficult opponents and are said to play a ‘heavy’ game.
All three teams from California are heavy. Heavy teams are predominantly from the Western Conference. And while being a heavy team isn’t an iron-clad guarantee of success, there is only one light team in the top 10 in the NHL’s standings.
We’ve separated the teams below into three categories – heavyweights, middleweights and lightweights, with their current NHL standing in parentheses. (With a stick tap to blogger James Mirtle, who calculated the average heights and weights of each NHL team earlier this season.) Of course, just because you have a heavy team doesn't necessarily mean you play a heavy game.
Anaheim (1): The Ducks, on average, aren’t one of the heavier teams in the league but get the distinction because their top of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner is a combined 18-feet-11 and 675 pounds.
St. Louis (2): The Blues have their share of smaller players, but their big guys are really, really big and difficult to play against. And even their small guys are heavy.
Tampa Bay (8): The Lightning are big on skill and have an enormous defense corps. Plus, Martin St-Louis is the biggest little man in the league.
Phoenix (14): Any team with a guy named Klinhammer on it sounds big. It’s even better when that guy is 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds.
Columbus (19): Cam Atkinson is only 5-foot-7 and he’s their best player, but much of the Blue Jackets size comes from their defense corps.
Washington (22): It helps when your best player is 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds.
Winnipeg (25): Dustin Byfuglien. That is all.
Chicago (3): The Blackhawks can play with the big boys without having big boys because of their overabundance of skill.
Boston (6): You’d think any team with Zdeno Chara on it would be a heavy team just with him alone, but the Bruins are actually middle of the pack.
Colorado (7): The Avs have some behemoths on defense, but their impact forwards are barely 6-feet tall.
Toronto (12): The Leafs are actually in the top 10 in average weight, but we’re making an executive decision here. No team that gives up that many shots and loses the puck that much should be considered heavy.
New Jersey (24): Jaromir Jagr is listed at 240 pounds. Seriously.
Vancouver (11): It’s not that the Canucks are small, it’s just that they’re tall and skinny.
Philadelphia (16): The Broad Street Pipsqueeks? Not exactly, but they’re not particularly imposing.
Detroit (18): The Red Wings have always preferred skill over brawn and have more forwards under six feet – Daniel Alfredsson, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Stephen Weiss and Henrik Zetterberg – than any other team in the league.
Dallas (20): If GM Jim Nill follows the Red Wings blueprint for success, size won’t matter in the ‘Big D’ for a long time.
NY Islanders (26): Most of their impact forwards and defensemen have trouble tipping the scales at 200 pounds.
Florida (27): This is probably to be expected on a team with so many young guys who haven’t completely filled out yet.
Calgary (28): Don’t expect this trend to last much longer with Brian Burke around.
Edmonton (29): The Oilers are actually middle of the pack when it comes to size, but they play a very, very small game. They’re virtually powerless against teams that cycle the puck.