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HIT OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE #5: JARED BOLL ON CRAIG SMITH
Think we've saved the best for last? It's possible, but we've definitely saved the first for last. The fifth and final candidate for Blue Jackets "hit of the year" was a highlight of opening night in Nashville - a 3-2 shootout win for Columbus at Bridgestone Arena.
And it was Jared Boll doing what Jared Boll does best: making opponents' lives miserable all over the ice. Predators forward Craig Smith carried the puck out of his own zone and tried to make a quick move in the middle of the ice, but just as he released the puck, Boll caught him with a huge open-ice hit that knocked Smith off his feet and stunned him, as well.
Needing a bit of a lift at the time, Boll's hit was as timely as it was thunderous - but do YOU think it was the best Jackets hit of the 2012-13 season? Fill out the form below and tell us what you think!
HIT OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE #4: PROUT/MACKENZIE ON ANDREW ALBERTS
Dalton Prout, who enjoyed a fine rookie season with the Blue Jackets and was a big contributor down the stretch run, quickly made a name for himself by delivering some crunching checks that left the boards and glass feeling rattled -- not to mention how the opposing player felt.
This candidate for Blue Jackets "hit of the year" came in a 2-1 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks on Mar. 7, a game that ended on a beautiful OT goal from Matt Calvert.
As you can see in the video above, Prout and Derek MacKenzie were in on the forecheck behind the Vancouver net and Andrew Alberts of the Canucks went back to play the puck. No sooner did he rim the puck around the boards was he squashed by MacKenzie and Prout, who teamed up for a jarring hit that left Alberts behind the net to re-adjust his helmet and get back into the play.
Now, after you've watched this over and over because it's awesome, you need to decide if this hit gets your vote. Is this the best CBJ hit of the year? If so, fill out the form below.
HIT OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE #3: JAMES WISNIEWSKI ON JAN MURSAK
The Blue Jackets had quite the season against the Detroit Red Wings, going 4-0-1 against their (now former) Central Division rivals and stealing a couple of exciting games at Joe Louis Arena.
Back on February 21 - a game the Blue Jackets would end up winning in the final minute on Vinny Prospal's dramatic, spinning goal - James Wisniewski laid one of the biggest hits of the year on a guy who tried to hit him just as hard. Red Wings forward Jan Mursak was in on the forecheck and going for the loose puck with Wisniewski, but Wisniewski dropped a heavy shoulder check and threw Mursak into the boards.
Not only was it a clean, legal body check, it was one of several moments in the game where the Blue Jackets imposed their will. The Red Wings couldn't get much going in the offensive zone and looked the part of a frustrated team, which reached its peak with the eventual game-winner from Prospal.
After viewing this big-time hit by Wisniewski, it's your time to vote and let us know if you think it's worthy of "hit of the year" honors.
HIT OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE #2: CAM ATKINSON ON STEPHANE ROBIDAS
While you might not typically expect Cam Atkinson to show up on a "best hits" highlight reel, he delivered a sturdy check to Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas early in the season. Robidas, chasing the puck behind his own net, took one peek over his shoulder and saw No. 13 flying in on the forecheck - but probably didn't expect to take a lick like he did.
Robidas absorbed a solid thump from Atkinson, tumbled to the ice and was left in the dust. He had that "who just hit me?" look when he got back to his feet, as well.
Well, what do YOU think? Is this a contender for best hit of the year? If so, fill out the form below and let your voice be heard!
HIT OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE #1: DALTON PROUT ON ANDREW DESJARDINS
Who doesn't love a solid, thunderous body check?
The kind of hit that you can feel in section 204, the kind that makes your teeth rattle just thinking about it. One of the most beautiful things about hockey is that it can be both aesthetically breathtaking and excruciatingly painful in the blink of an eye - forcing every player to keep his head on a swivel.
Starting today, we're counting down some of the best hits of the Blue Jackets' season. There were several worthy candidates and it was a blast to go back through film of 48 games in 99 days, re-living some of the year's best hits, collisions and fender benders. But we can't pick our favorite hit without your help, so we're going to do this "countdown" style and feature one hit every week for the next five weeks.
Kicking it off is a mammoth hit delivered by rookie defenseman Dalton Prout on San Jose's Andrew Desjardins during the Blue Jackets' 4-0 win on April 9. Desjardins carried the puck across the Columbus blue line and tried to sneak by Prout, who closed off the wall and crunched Desjardins to the boards with a seismic hit.
This was just one memorable moment in a thrilling stretch run for the Blue Jackets and a very successful season against the Sharks; Columbus posted a 3-0-0 record against San Jose in the season series and out-scored the Sharks by a 14-5 margin, but the final meeting of the season series was the best. Ryan Johansen answered a Sharks two-goal comeback in the third period by scoring the game-winning goal with 1:34 to play, stunning what had been a rocking crowd at HP Pavilion.
Alright...now that you've watched the hit a few dozen times, what do you think? If this is YOUR pick for "hit of the year," fill out the form below and hit submit!