NHL Power Rankings: Five Biggest Hitters in the Eastern Conference

Eric Steitz@esteitz16Analyst IIIJuly 12, 2012

NHL Power Rankings: Five Biggest Hitters in the Eastern Conference

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    There are only a certain number of things that can really spark a team throughout the course of a game. Whether it's a beautiful individual effort for a goal, a vicious fight or a bone-crushing hit, these events seem to get everyone out of their seats.

    When a good hit is coming, people can feel them. The action slows to a crawl. Fans hold their breath. The stadium grows quiet. Then, someone lowers the boom.

    Throughout the course of a season, there are tons of solid hits and tons of good hitters, but it takes something special to get to the level of greatness that these guys hit—literally.

    This is not based on the number of hits these guys ended with but the number of bone-crushing, crowd-pleasing, breathtaking hits, showcased with a video example of each.

    The five biggest hitters are featured here.

    Let the debate, and the body-smashing, begin.

5. Ryan Callahan

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    The No. 5 guy is one of the most complete players in the game of hockey, Ryan Callahan.

    The captain of the New York Rangers can score (29 goals), pass (25 assists) and he can bring the rain too.

    Callahan finished fifth in the league in hits with 271, many like the one above on Lubomir Visnovsky.

    The coolest thing about Callahan's hits, most of them come on the forecheck.


    More proof, from 2011

4. Robyn Regehr

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    This selection may come as a surprise to some but at the No. 4 spot, Robyn Regehr of the Buffalo Sabres.

    Regehr certainly won't be recording any hat tricks soon, but he has a way of getting the crowd on their feet in his own right.

    Regehr had five points in 76 games last season and ended the year with 172 hits. He finished 52nd in the league in hits.

    I know you're thinking, how can a guy who finishes 52nd be on the list? Well, watch the video. The guy he destroys is also on this list.

    Want more? Regehr puts a charge into the Lightning.

3. Alex Ovechkin

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    Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is an animal at No. 3.

    While Ovi may not rack up the numbers of some of the other league-leaders in hits, he certainly has his fair share.

    Ovechkin finished 21st in the league in hits with 215, but there were plenty of big ones to go around.

    Thank you, sir. May I have another? Sure.

    And, another.

2. Brooks Orpik

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    One of the criteria for a big hit is the ability to bring people out of their seats. Well, very few people do it better than the No. 2 man on the list, Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Orpik just seems to have a knack for demolishing people. And, as you saw in the video above, he can certainly lift people out of their chairs. Or, he can lift you off the ice—whichever you prefer.

    Orpik finished eighth in the league in hits with 259 and ranked second among NHL defenseman (behind only Toronto's Luke Schenn, not on this list).

    You can very well put the video above on repeat. I did. Or, you can try to calculate distance traveled in the air. There's a ton of fun to be had with that video.

    In case you want more of Orpik, here's another.

1. Dion Phaneuf

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    Taking the top spot on this countdown is Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

    If you disagree, I want you to go out on the ice and say so yourself.

    Phaneuf doesn't care if you're a veteran or a rookie, like Ottawa Senators rookie Stephane Da Costa found out in the video above.

    Phaneuf will staple you to the boards or knock you flat in wide-open ice. He finished 22nd in the league in hits (214), but is the biggest hitter in the game.

    More proof:

    Michael Sauer

    Evgeni Malkin

    Chris Kelly

    Well played, Mr. Phaneuf. Well played.

    Let the debate begin. Even more importantly, let the video posting begin. We can all enjoy an old-fashioned, bone-crunching hit.