Video: Keith Ballard’s hip check ranks as the hit of the 2011 playoffs


If the hip check is a dying art form, then Vancouver Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard created one of the last great masterpieces.

In his first appearance since April 30th, Ballard made a big impression by delivering a wicked hip check on San Jose Sharks forward Jamie McGinn, sending the young player into a near-cartwheel. One must think that the check was especially satisfying for Canucks fans, considering the fact that McGinn’s two Game 3 hits resulted in injuries to defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome.

Some people (including Mike Milbury) wondered if Ballard should have gotten a clipping penalty for the hit, but considering the mind-numbing festival of penalties that dominated the game’s first 40 minutes, it’s nice that the referees let it go. (Feel free to debate the merits of whether or not it should have been a penalty in the comments, though.)

Watch the video below for what might be the best hit of the playoffs so far.

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Video: P.K. Subban’s hip check on Brad Marchand

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There are dying traditions in sports. Some of them prompt fans to say “good riddance,” such as the pre-lockout era in which obstruction penalties were largely ignored. Others are missed, though, like the lack of quality mid-range shots in the NBA.

One thing that people miss in hockey is a well-timed hip check.

To some degree, the evolution of the game explains the increased rarity of such checks. Simply put, it’s a lot more difficult to line someone up for a hip check when the targets move that much quicker.

That doesn’t mean they’re extinct altogether, though. Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban may be a brash, cocksure young player, but he can make an impact when he’s not a healthy scratch. Just ask 22-year-old Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who was walloped by Subban with this hit.

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