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Thrashers and Hitting

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Dirk Hoag who covers the Nashville Predators for SB Nation also shares my passion for stats and analysis. He has pulled together the final season numbers for Hits Given and Hits Taken department in this post.

The Thrashers are one of the smaller teams in the NHL and so it is not terribly surprising to me that they ended up towards the very bottom of the NHL in Hits Given (29th out of 30 teams). On the flip side, the Thrashers also finished #1 in fewest Hits Taken last season. If you put those two things together it indicates that games involving the Thrashers were among the least physical in the NHL.

Now there are two ways to think about this data. 1) On the one hand, hitting is exciting and can generate passion both on the bench and in the stands--so a lack of hitting is a negative from the persepctive of energy in your building. 2) On the other hand, a low number of physical games might also explain why the Thrashers continue to have good luck on the injury front. Key players like Enstrom and Kovalchuk miss fewer games than is typical for a NHL player (the median number of games played is around 75 for an average NHLer).

One last possability is human error (aka inter-coder reliability)--it is possible that the official scorers in Atlanta are much more stingy in the way they count hits for both teams which would depress the Thrashers numbers for the 41 home games. While that is a logical possability, having watched most of the games I can verify that Atlanta is not a big hitting team.