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Why Karl Alzner wants 75 more hits this season

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In answering a series of questions for The Players’ Tribune, Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner wrote that he wanted 75 more hits this season, unabashedly publicizing this goal. He’s already said he wants to be more physical, but that doesn’t always translate to tallying more hits.

This all started with Washington’s Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Islanders last year, when Alzner thought that playing physical “really opened up more options for you on the ice.” Last year was his career high in hits with 120, and he has 17 through 12 games played, a pace that would give him fewer hits, though the sample size is pretty small.

What constitutes a hit can also be up to the eye of the beholder.

“It depends on the buildings,” Alzner said. “Some buildings give you a hit for just a finished check, where as other ones only give it to you if you separate a guy from the puck. That just depends on the building that you’re in, whether you get them or not. You just hope that you get as many as you deserve, I guess.”

Some hockey aficionados would argue that a lot of hits is not actually a good thing because any time you’re credited with a hit, it means you don’t have the puck. You can read about how hits is considered by many as a deceptive and all-around poor statistic here, herehere and about 75 more places, but don’t expect Alzner to buy into that.

“I don’t believe in any of the advanced statistics,” Alzner said. “I don’t believe in a single one of them.”

Alzner then brought up that the Capitals had 80 percent Corsi, a statistic used to measure shot attempt differential while at even strength play, in a recent 5-2 loss against the Rangers, “so it doesn’t matter.” Now that we have that background out of the way, back to why Alzner wants more hits.

“You see how Brooks [Orpik] does it, and I feel like he does such a good job of separating a guy from the puck and taking him out of the play,” Alzner said. “I’m more of a containing defenseman, I guess you could say, and not so much of a hitter. It’s something that as a defenseman of my style, being physical and getting hits is really important, I think.”

Alzner said he has no idea how many hits he has this season. Assistant coach Todd Reirden keeps his own hit numbers, which are the ones Alzner puts stock into because Reirden is judging a hit as Alzner would.

“A lot of it is reputation, too,” Alzner said. “If you’re known as a hitter, you get more hits.”