Who's hitting who among NHL teams

I haven't taken a look at the Hits that the NHL tracks in quite a while, firstly because I suspect (but haven't validated) that there's a good deal of scoring bias in various arenas, and also the notion that hits may not be of any particular value in winning hockey games.

I've decided to take another dig into this matter, however, particularly since the NHL, starting last season, started tracking a couple additional pieces of information. Whereas originally all we knew was which player dished out a Hit, we now get both the name of the player taking the hit, and also the zone in which it occurs. I suspect there may be something meaningful there if we slice down to see if there are effects based on whether it's a defenseman or forward making a hit, and whether it's in the offensive or defensive zones.

Before digging into the details, my first guess is that defensemen making hits in their own zone may well take themselves out of position, and as a high-risk play, is likely to yield disastrous results. Forwards making hits in the offensive end, however, may well create some offensive opportunites. We'll see over the next few days as I create some supporting tables necessary to run through that info.

In the meantime, I will pass on a couple tidbits. First, the fact that the overall breakdown of hits by zone is quite interesting:

 Zone Total Pct.
 Offensive 22417 43.6%
 Neutral 6227 12.1%
 Defensive 22740 44.3%
 Grand Total 51384  

I'm not surprised to see the Neutral Zone figure so low, since the danger in attempting to make a hit in open ice likely keeps that relatively rare, but the fact that the Offensive and Defensive numbers are basically equal struck me as a bit odd. I would think forechecking is a good opportunity to get aggressive and bang away, but there you go.

Here's a look on a team-by-team basis as to who's doing the hitting, and who's getting hit:

 Team Hits Given Hits Taken
 Anaheim Ducks 1758 1678
 Atlanta Thrashers 1380 1206
 Boston Bruins 1792 1875
 Buffalo Sabres 1458 1615
 Carolina Hurricanes 1716 1955
 Columbus Blue Jackets 1919 2071
 Calgary Flames 1531 1521
 Chicago Blackhawks 1520 1652
 Colorado Avalanche 1462 1379
 Dallas Stars 2076 2187
 Detroit Red Wings 1440 1668
 Edmonton Oilers 1393 1460
 Florida Panthers 1562 1718
 Los Angeles Kings 2128 2009
 Minnesota Wild 1468 1443
 Montreal Canadiens 1974 1827
 New Jersey Devils 1430 1448
 Nashville Predators 1671 1467
 New York Islanders 1828 1562
 New York Rangers 2312 2173
 Ottawa Senators 1923 1844
 Philadelphia Flyers 1712 1608
 Phoenix Coyotes 1793 1771
 Pittsburgh Penguins 1939 2007
 San Jose Sharks 2042 1948
 St. Louis Blues 1611 1651
 Tampa Bay Lightning 1854 1441
 Toronto Maple Leafs 1736 1923
 Vancouver Canucks 1294 1549
 Washington Capitals 1662 1728
 Total 51384 51384
 Average 1712 1712

Again, in terms of overall totals there's little reason to believe that outhitting your opponents leads to victory (check out Tampa Bay and Detroit at the extremes), but the details could get interesting, so stay tuned in the days ahead.

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