NHL hitting and fighting has been on the decline for years. There are fewer teams saving a roster spot for a dedicated enforcer and more teams interested in gaining and keeping possession of the puck.
That’s a better approach than letting the other team have the puck and hitting them in an effort to intimidate and get it back. Entering the zone with possession is often preferable to the dump-and-chase system that was more popular a decade ago.
That style of play has taken away the opportunity for hits in many cases.
BetMassachusetts.com – your source for MA sports betting - decided to see if this older-school, grittier style of hockey was still successful in today's NHL. Especially considering the history in Boston of the Big, Bad Bruins winning Stanley Cups in the 1970s.
We utilized MoneyPuck.com to compile the amount of hits by each NHL team and HockeyFights.com to compile fights in the 2022-23 regular season to find the most aggressive teams.
Here are some numbers you won’t find of any of the legal Massachusetts sports betting apps.
Bruins’ Success with Hitting Not the Norm
It makes sense that teams ranking high on the hits front don’t have a ton of success as the opportunity to hit means that your team doesn’t have the puck. Possession is the name of the game in the NHL and if you can’t get the puck and hang on to it, you won’t have any luck.
With six of the 10 top teams on the ranking missing the playoffs, this point gets proven even more.
Here in Massachusetts, the Boston Bruins managed to crack the top 10 and still have success, ranking ninth on the list while setting the NHL record for wins in a season. The Bruins ranked high on the list with a strong showing in the fight category and were only 14th in hits.
Connor Clifton led the team in hits but has since departed in free agency, as has aggressive trade deadline acquisition Tyler Bertuzzi. That could mean the Bruins fall out of the top 10 ranking next year, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
New acquisitions James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Geekie and Kevin Shattenkirk don’t bring a ton of physicality, so going to a more possession-based game seems to be the route the Bruins are choosing.
Boston is at a bit of a crossroads with the future of centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci still up in the air as they mull retirement. That is very much evident at Massachusetts sportsbooks. FanDuel Massachusetts, for instance, has the Bruins at +1500 to win the Stanley Cup, with a surprising seven teams ahead of them. The Colorado Avalanche are the favorite at +800.
Expecting another record-setting season is unlikely, but the Bruins still have a strong core led by David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy. Pastrnak is known for his scoring, but McAvoy will keep the Bruins relevant in the hits department as he averaged over a hit per game in the regular season and has eclipsed 130 hits three times in his career, several of them of the bone-crushing variety.
Last season was a dream, with seemingly everything going right in the regular season for the Bruins. It will be very interesting to see how they adapt after losing some key players and some of their top hitters in the offseason. Boston should fall out of the top 10 aggressive teams list unless someone comes in and surprises with their hitting prowess.
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