Every once in awhile, a player with the type of nasty hands that others only dream about is also blessed with a crazy amount of creativity. He has won the genetic lottery.
Anze Kopitar is one of those NHL superstars, and last night he was kind enough to bless us with yet another moment that makes you go “…Damn.”
The “alley-oop,” or the “flip,” or “area pass” or whatever you want to call it isn’t easy to pull off accurately (by the way, please don’t call these passes “saucers,” as in no way are they meant to be flat, aerodynamic passes).
Sure, any ‘ol plug can flip a puck into the zone and head off for a change, but to land it in a five-to-10 foot area while skating and timing your teammates speed is exceptional.
Kopitar demonstrates how to bypass the threat of having your pass picked off when you have a teammate in behind the defense here. To the 1:07 mark!
Yeah, feel free to give that a re-watch.
Earlier this morning on twitter I called it “the play of the year.” Maybe a bit much, but I love this stuff.
Turns out, this wasn’t the first time Kopitar has made use of the alley-oop. Here’s Dustin Brown on the receiving end of a beauty last year too:
I can’t help but notice that both passes came while the Kings were on the right side of a blowout. That makes me wonder if he finds it risky, or showy maybe, so he won’t try it unless they have a bit of a cushion. If I were him, I think I’d pull it out of the grab bag of tricks a little more often.
But of course, Kopitar didn’t invent the play. Hockey players have been trying it with a miniscule success rate all around the world for awhile now.
Which brings us to the (possible?) pioneer. This is as far back as I can remember seeing it – you fans of the Colorado Avalanche already know the play I’m talking about — Peter Forsberg to Rob Blake, below.
The only thing that might date back further wasn’t even a pass (it kills me that I can’t find video of this) - Steve Yzerman once flipped the puck over defenders into an empty net. How’s that for confidence?
I could see this becoming more common as players get more skilled - you can send a speedy winger skating forward past a backwards skating d-man to get in behind them, so all you need is a guy with a money flip pass.
Yep, that’s all you need. Just one guy who can do something incredible and a really fast player who can finish. Every team has those don’t they?