2013 NHL Rankings: The 12 Most Feared Defensemen in the Game Today
There are four words that need to be implanted in a forwards brain as they are cutting across the middle of the ice to receive an outlet pass, and they are: "Keep your head up!"
You have to be tough to be a defenseman in the NHL, as they are commonly the guys who are getting punished in the defensive zone by grinding forwards; however, there are many defensemen that can drop the hammer just as well when they are on the giving end of a body check.
So unless you want your brain to be turned into scrambled eggs, watch out when these 12 guys are on the ice.
12. P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens
P.K. Subban led all defenseman in penalty minutes last year with 119, and while many people do believe that he is a dirty player, there is no denying the fact that he has no issues throwing the body around.
Here is a nice compilation of the damage Subban can do.
11. Andy Sutton, Edmonton Oilers
The 37-year-old only played in 52 games last season with Edmonton and wasn't much of a factor offensively by only accumulating 10 points; however, at 6'6", 245 pounds, Sutton still found a way to spend 80 minutes in the sin bin and is still one of the most feared defensemen in the game.
Back in 2010 as a member of the Ottawa Senators, Sutton delivered this bone-shattering hit to Jordan Leopold.
10. Dan Girardi, New York Rangers
Dan Girardi was by far the most physical defenseman for the New York Rangers last season, as he finished the year with 211 hits and only managed 20 penalty minutes. He is not a guy that will drop the gloves often, but that doesn't mean he can't throw his body around to incoming forwards.
Check out this textbook hit on Mike Green of the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals. That's how it's done, kids.
9. Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres
Tyler Myers served a three-game suspension for his hit from behind on Scott Gomez in March, but don't let that taint the way that he plays the game. Myers is enormous at 6'8", 227 pounds, and at only 22 years old, he is becoming one of the largest presences in the NHL.
Keep your head up when Myers is coming.
8. Anton Volchenkov, New Jersey Devils
Anton Volchenkov only stands at 6'1", but he's as thick as they come when he is carrying around 225 pounds. He finished last season with 177 hits and has no problem getting his nose dirty when he has to.
Watch him welcome John Tavares into the NHL back in 2009.
7. Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings
One of the big reasons why the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup last season was their physical play, which was led by 6'3", 231-pound defenseman Matt Greene. Greener has never been one to shy away when things get rough, and he isn't afraid to drop the mitts if he has to.
Watch Greener smoke Tomas Holmstrom in the neutral zone. There should have been no call on the play.
6. Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Shea Weber is commonly known for his offensive abilities, but many people fail to realize that Weber is also one of the most feared hitters in the game. At 6'4", 232 pounds, the Nashville Predators captain has no problem throwing the body around and making sure opposing forwards feel his presence on the ice.
Here's a clip of Weber sending Patrik Berglund over the bench for a quick change.
5. Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins
Brooks Orpik has never been known as a guy with great offensive touch, but his abilities in his own end and in the neutral zone more than make up for it. Orpik was second among all defensemen with 259 hits last season and is constantly setting the tone early in a game.
Watch him do just that in Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2011 NHL playoffs.
4. Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings
Another guy that doesn't look intimidating from first glance, but Kronwall has perfected the art of pinching on the blue line and destroying unsuspecting wingers. He is another guy that receives a high rank in this list due to the fact that he plays the game the right way, and he's a great role model for kids that want to learn how to play physically.
Watch him light up Jakub Voracek.
3. Luke Schenn, Philadelphia Flyers
Luke Schenn was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Philadelphia Flyers in the offseason, and his 270 hits last season led the NHL. At just 22 years old, Schenn leads the way for aggressive play in the new era of hockey. He is a picture-perfect example of how you can still play extremely physical under the new rules.
Watch him light up reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin, and then square up Tyler Kennedy.
2. Dion Phaneuf, Toronto Maple Leafs
Dion Phaneuf is not only a guy that you want to avoid getting hit by, he is a guy that you want to avoid fighting. Phaneuf is a guy that does it all for the Maple Leafs, and on top of his physical abilities, he has an absolute cannon of a shot. He stands at 6'3", 214 pounds, but he plays like he is much bigger. His 211 hits and 92 penalty minutes last year put him at No. 2 on this list.
Here's another top-10 compilation.
1. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
I shouldn't even have to explain myself on this one. Zdeno Chara stands at 6'9", 256 pounds off the ice. Now imagine how enormous he looks on the ice. He is a guy that almost no one will fight due to his massive stature. Oh, add in the fact that he has a 109 MPH slap shot and you have yourselves the most feared player in the game.
Watch him annihilate Max Pacioretty in what might be the biggest hit in NHL history. This video is not for the weak stomached.