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2010-2011 season: 1791 hits (21.8 hits per game), 20th in the NHL
2011-2012 season to date: 1366 hits (21.7 hits per game), 18th in the NHL
2010-2011 season: 29 fights (0.35 fights per game), 23rd in the NHL
2011-2012 season to date: 34 fights (0.54 fights per game), sixth in the NHL
Toughness was the Canucks' Achilles heel in the 2011 playoffs, as the gutless and soft Canucks couldn't stand up to the honourable and mighty Bruins.
At least that was the takeaway from the Stanley Cup Finals according to many analysts and fans who buy into overly simplistic answers. (Personally, I think eight goals scored for in seven playoff games was a bigger problem than Marchand being a punk in games that were already out of hand.)
That problem was exacerbated when the Canucks let their biggest hitter (and loose cannon) Raffi Torres walk as a free agent.
This year, the Canucks are hitting a little less than they did last year in the regular season.
Regular season is the key point, as the the Canucks surprised everyone in the West with a physical dimension to their game that wasn't present until the puck dropped for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Blackhawks. I expect the Canucks to turn it up physically again this year, especially with their roster.
Fighting, or a lack thereof, was considered to be part of the toughness problem for the Canucks, especially with agitating players like Burrows, Kesler and Maxim Lapierre on the roster.
This year the Canucks have answered the bell (and their critics) by fighting at almost double the rate they were last year. They are the highest-ranked team in the West for fighting majors, at least amongst teams with a dream of making the playoffs. (Columbus is the only Western team ahead of them for fights.)