Much is sometimes made of how many hits a player or team racks up in a season. You can rely on seeing names like Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin at the top of the league each year for this stat without needed to look it up. What about the flip side? Which players are disproportionately leading the league on the receiving end of getting hit?
I scraped data from every regular season game last year and recorded the players involved in each hit. Let’s first look at the leaders in getting hit the most:
-The list is overwhelmingly made up of defensemen. Perhaps that’s no surprise.
-Kevan Miller got hit at almost double the rate of anyone else on this list! Though he dished the hits back out to others almost nearly as often.
-Niklas Hjalmarsson takes a lot of hits over the course of the season, but keeps on playing his game and rarely returns the favor back to anyone else.
-Seven of the top 20 players are from Pittsburgh or Chicago. It could be something with the scorekeeping, or perhaps just style of play they employ.
If there are players that distinctly get hit more than others, are they just often more vulnerable, or are they being targeted by other players? I thought it’d be fun to see which hits from one player to another are most repeated over the season.
I won’t lie, I was expecting a lot more than 8 hits a year from one player onto another. I figured big hitters would have grudges against other players in their division that they would frequently see and try to rough up. Not the case. It appears that targeting other players for hits is not a thing and that hitting opportunities seem to simply present themselves. The only repeat players with 6 or more hits on an opponent are Leo Komarov, Alex Ovechkin, and Roman Polak. Here’s the full breakdown by frequency
It shows us that it’s pretty remarkable that players who lead the league in hits are also simply hitting a lot of different people. It would appear no player can avoid hits as long as they’re on the ice.
Lastly, let’s look at whether players who get hit also happen to be frequent hitters themselves:
It would appear so. There’s definitely some bias since I’m including all players without filtering by TOI or looking at hits as a rate. But in general the more you get hit, the more you also happen to hit.
Now that we consider the flip side of the hitting coin, it may be interesting to find other trends in this data. Is getting hit repeatable from year to year? Is this some sort of fatigue factor for players when they get hit more frequently?