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What's the Hit of the Season? You decide!

by Adam Schwartz and Brad Holland
Below you'll find our five nominees for the Fan's Choice Hit of the Season.

Watch the videos, consider their merits, and record your choice by voting in the poll.

Vote as many times as you like.

The choice is personal, but some things to consider when voting are the degree of skill and overall execution.

The voting ends this Friday at 10 a.m. ET, as the top goal, hit and save of the season are revealed later that day.


Ethan Moreau on Dustin Brown - Feb. 14, 2009

It's like the old saying goes: Live by the boards, die by the boards.

Last season, the Kings' Dustin Brown set an NHL record for hits with 311 -- in only 78 games.

That record was subsequently broken this season by the Wild's Cal Clutterbuck, but it shows just how much Brown enjoys laying out opponents.

On this night, Brown caught Oilers' defenseman Ladislav Smid with a hard, legal check, and then, on the same shift, picked up the puck on the attack.

Oilers' captain Ethan Moreau saw this develop, and went looking for payback for Brown's check on Smid. He caught Brown from the side with his shoulder while Brown was cutting through the middle, and the impact was so severe that Brown lost both of his gloves and his stick.

True to his form, however, Brown didn't complain, writhe on the ice, or attempt to fight; he simply skated off the ice -- after being sure to get the number of the truck that hit him, for "next time."

Brent Seabrook on Dan Cleary - Jan. 1, 2009

The Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry is a physical one, no matter what the venue.

But you could bet that in front of their fans, in their city, at historic Wrigley Field for the Winter Classic, the 'Hawks were going to look to show the Red Wings who was boss.

If this was the plan, then early in the first period of the 2009 Bridgestone/NHL Winter Classic, Brent Seabrook, one of Chicago's more physical defensemen, stepped up to make a statement.

The Red Wings' Dan Cleary knew he'd have to take a hit to make a play as he dumped the puck into the Hawks zone, but he had no idea to what extent. Seabrook got him in the chest and put him head over heels into the Blackhawks bench.

The Hawks' bench attempted to "help" the Detroit forward back onto the ice; but, surprisingly, he was unable to extract himself until a linesman skated over to help the rescue process.

This is a particularly memorable hit and Cleary attempting to extricate himself from the Hawks' bench is one of the most memorable images from the Winter Classic.

Adam Pardy on Jared Boll - Jan. 21, 2009

One thing is certain: Calgary Flames defenseman Adam Pardy doesn't pick his spots.

Because it would be hard to find a tougher customer in the NHL than Jared Boll of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a player who had 226 penalty minutes as a rookie last season.

But you wouldn't know it by the treatment he received at the hands Pardy, a rookie, on Jan. 21.

Hey, even the big dogs get bitten every once in a while.

Looking to enter the offensive zone, Boll attempted to squeeze through a narrow opening offered by Pardy, right before Pardy stepped up and eliminated both that opening and Boll himself.

The check was a textbook example of how best to eliminate a rushing forward, both legally and effectively.

Adding insult to injury, Pardy was then able to retrieve the puck after the hit and help the Flames successfully break out of their zone. He may only be a rookie, but with plays like this, he'll have name recognition sooner rather than later.

Keith Ballard on Evgeni Malkin, April 5, 2009

Normally, game-changing plays occur around the net. A big save, a timely goal... even an odd-man rush broken up by a desperate defender can shift momentum and have an impact on the final score.

But, in this case, the game-changer took place 25 feet or more from the blue paint.

Late in the first period in a game between Florida and Pittsburgh, the Panthers were in a desperate situation.

The Penguins had outshot the Panthers, 18-3 through 18:11, had tied the score at 1-1 and were on the power play.

Tat's when Panthers' defenseman Keith Ballard decided to enter the conversation.

The NHL's leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin, entered the Florida zone, skating with his head down as he carried the puck up the right boards. That is, until Ballard sent him cart-wheeling with a textbook hip check.

Malkin was uninjured on the play, despite his dramatic fall, and one of his teammates -- none other than the NHL's third-leading scorer Sidney Crosby -- stepped up to his defense.

The Panthers would go on to win the game 4-2, and Ballard would go on to potential Fans' Choice for Hit of the Season fame -- depending on your votes.

Milan Lucic on Mike Van Ryn - Oct. 23, 2008

Lucic is enjoying a break-out campaign in his second full season in the NHL.

His gritty, hard-hitting style of play has established him as a cult hero in the greater Boston area, and amongst fantasy hockey junkies across the globe.

Early in 2008-09, before opponents really knew to keep their eyes open, and their heads on a swivel, for the swashbuckling sophomore, Lucic was skating in a game vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Defenseman Mike Van Ryn was trying to break out of the Leafs zone, which he accomplished with an outlet pass, but not before Lucic caught him with a clean, but vicious, shoulder check that knocked Van Ryn through a shattered pane of glass. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

A highlight-reel hit across the globe, Lucic's glass-shattering body check on this night in October catapulted the young forward into the forefront of the Boston renaissance, and sent a message to the rest of the NHL that a new sheriff was patrolling the ice in Boston.

In fact, this hit, perhaps more than any other play this season, endeared Lucic to the Burins' faithful, reminding them more than a little of the early days of beloved power forward Cam Neely as a Bruin wrecking ball.

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