Since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals when the Canucks lost to a very large and physical Bruins team, the common criticism about the Canucks is that they are a small, skilled team that will fold under physical pressure.
Hit the Sedins enough, and they'll stop putting up points. Turn the tables on world-class agitators Kesler and Burrows, and they'll take penalties instead of scoring goals.
Regardless of how accurate this criticism is, opponents have employed this strategy for years against the Canucks. A deadly power play is one way to deter opponents from taking liberties, and this is the strategy the Canucks have typically employed, but the other option is to hit back.
And this year, the Canucks are hitting back.
The Canucks are currently have 12 fighting majors this season, placing them at third overall in the NHL for fights. They now have a legitimate heavyweight who can actually play in 6'3", 215-pound power forward Zack Kassian.
Kassian has two fights this year, including taking apart Oiler's tough guy Ben Eager, and his teammates are contributing, too. Dale Weiss and Aaron Volpatti are fulfilling their fourth-line role expectations with four and three fights respectively. Kevin Bieksa has a pair of fights, and even noted agitator Maxim Lapierre has dropped the gloves.
Fights, of course, aren't the only measure of team toughness. The Canucks also have recorded 309 hits in 13 games, placing them a respectable 14th overall in the NHL in that category.
Remember how I said that the common criticism of the Canucks wasn't necessarily a valid one?
Of course any player can get thrown off their game via physical play, but in the 2011 playoffs, it was largely the Canucks doing that to their opponents, not the other way around.
It became a common theme in the media during the Stanley Cup Finals, but going into the Finals, the Canucks led the NHL in hits and fights amongst playoff teams through the first three rounds.
This year's edition of the Canucks seems to play like the 2011 team in regards to physicality, although hopefully they have a better end to their season.