DETROIT -- Word is starting to get around the League that you'd better keep your head up on the ice whenever hard-checking Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson is out there.
The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Wilson has been paired with hard-hitting 6-5, 234-pound Ryan O'Byrne and the pair is making life difficult for opponents trying to get past them. They're also adding some offense for the Avs as the team's third defense pair -- O'Byrne chipping in a goal and 2 assists to go with a goal and 7 assists for Wilson.
Their hits, however, is where they really make their mark -- especially Wilson, whom teammate Matt Duchene said is "one of best open-ice hitters I've ever seen."
"What he brings is pretty simple," Avs coach Joe Sacco said. "He brings an edge to the game and keeps the opponents on their toes when they're on the ice. He's one of those guys who, when you look at his name on the (scouting report), you'd better have your head up when he's on the ice. That's the type of players he is."
More often than not, that physicality to his game helps keep the puck out of the Colorado net, as Wilson leads the Avs with a plus-7 rating.
"He seems to always be a guy who's a plus player," Sacco said. "Last year, before we hit a bit of a tailspin, he was by far our plus/minus leader. He's dependable and he's also chipping in with some points, which is a bonus for us."