To hit or not to hit….

A few days ago I was watching the Tampa-Atlanta game and noticed how little hitting there was in that game. That got me to thinking if this was normal for Tampa (and it was). Well over the past few days I went through every box score on and extracted the hits each team had in every game and I came up with the following results.

-Detroit had the fewest hits in a single game with just 2 hits in a game against Columbus. Pittsburgh and Atlanta were next with just 3 hits in a game.

-The fewest hits in a game by both teams is 10 which happened 3 times. Pittsburgh(3) vs New Jersey(7), Phoenix(4) vs Anaheim(6) and Columbus(4) vs Edmonton(10)

-The most hits in a game by a single team is 37 done by the Islanders (vs Montreal) and Toronto (vs Philadelphia)

-The most hits in a game both teams combined is 65 done in 2 games. Florida(34) vs Toronto(31) and NY Islanders(37) vs Montreal(28).

-Toronto is the most physical team averaging 24.4 hits per game and surprisingly Montreal is the next most physical team with 21.5 hits per game. Toronto is a big team so that makes sense, but Montreal is a smaller team so it is surprising to see them average so many hits per game.

-The least physical teams are the Tampa Bay Lightning with just 8.4 hits per game and the New York Rangers with just 10.7 hits per game.

-The team least likely to be hit is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Opponents only hit a Penguin an average of 9.4 times per game. I guess no one wants to hit Lemieux or be the guy to give Crosby an injury. Or maybe teams just felt sorry for them with the bad start they had and didn’t want to kick them while they were down.

-The team most likely to get hit was the Montreal Canadiens. Opponents hit a Montreal player on average 21.2 times per game. Next was the Ottawa Senators who were hit 20.7 times per game. It seems having speed doesn’t mean you can avoid hits.

-There doesn’t seem to be any correlation between playing physical and scoring goals or winning. Some good teams throw a lot of hits (i.e. Ottawa – 20.6 hits/game) and some good teams don’t throw a lot of hits (i.e. Carolina – 11.5 hits/game) and some good teams are right in the middle (i.e. Detroit – 15.1 hits/game).

The table below shows each teams goals for, goals against, total goals, hits for, hits against and total hits on a per game basis. The data is sorted by hits per game.

Comparison of goals and hits per game by NHL teams.

This article has 9 Comments

  1. Maybe the number of hits Montreal and Ottawa take reflects a team willingness to take a hit to make a play, which would be part of why they are winning. But I wonder if it will hurt them over the long run.
    Interesting post.

  2. Can you see home and away hits? “Hits” is such a judgement and frankly, biased, statistic that it’s always good to see the differences. Sure, some teams play different on the road, but when there’s a large discrepancy, something’s usually fishy.

    It’s never been a statistic one can rely on because of the differences of calls in arenas.

  3. Good point on taking hits to make a play. That could definitely be the case.

    Yes, ‘hits’ is a judgmental thing and as a result the value of the stats are suspect. Edmonton is one example I noticed. At home they have average 9 hits with their opposition averaging 8.2. On the road they are averaging a little over 14 hits with their opposition averaging 17.4 hits. We should probably just look at a teams road numbers to eliminate as much bias as possible or maybe try to calculate some sort of bias factor but that is more work.

    That said, there is definitely a difference between the number of hits that Tampa throws than that of Toronto. It would be difficult for bias to explain the whole difference.

  4. First, amazing job pulling this data together. How do we get to supply better stats so it is not necessary to slog through the box scores to extract this data?
    At a quick glance it also looks like there is a mild correlation between the light hitting and low penalty totals. Tampa has taken the fewest penalties in the league – and other teams that appear non-physical in your data (Buffalo, Carolina and the Rangers) are also staying out of the box. Nashville is an anomaly – they don’t hit much but they are among the most penalized teams.
    The penalties/hits correlation is not a shock given the fuzzy line that now appears to exist between a good hit and some kind of obstruction.

  5. Good stuff….exactly what i wanted to see after your last post. I’m a little dissapointed that there is not even a remote correlation with hits to wins, I was thinking that the more physical teams probably showed more intensity and therefor won more, but I guess we will see over the course of the season

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