The Signature Move of the NHL's 10 Best Players
How many times has this happened to you?
Your friend texts you asking if you saw last night's highlight-reel shootout goal. You go on YouTube to check it out and find yourself clicking on video after video in the right-hand column, watching one dazzling hockey moment after another, until all of a sudden you realize it's quitting time and you got nothing done today.
Over the years, hockey players have wowed us with their creativity and flawless execution. Certain players developed certain staples that are virtual trademarks within the hockey community.
You all picture the same thing when I say "The Datsyuk."
In fact, every great hockey player has his own go-to move or set of moves, something that other players have trouble recreating and goalies have even more trouble stopping.
Let's look at the signature moves of hockey's ten best players in the game today.
10. Alexander Ovechkin: The Highlight Reel
There was a time when Alex Ovechkin was the only player who could share a spotlight with Sidney Crosby, but those days are long gone.
However, though Ovie's production has dropped off recently, he's still a regular on the highlight reel.
A true signature move might be his searing snapshot, but the real Ovechkin trademark is the unexpected, impossible-to-recreate improvised goal.
Whether he's dancing and diving against Montreal or picking corners with an overheated twig, Ovechkin knows how to get the cameras focused on his toothless grin as he leaps into the glass to celebrate another beauty.
Still, none will ever be better than the on-the-ice helicopter goal he scored against Phoenix, featured in the video.
You can't teach that.
9. John Tavares: The Soft Hands
As it were, Tavares flies a bit under the radar for a man of his talents while calling The Island home, but No. 91 has some of the sickest mitts in the game.
Tavares has a knack for knowing how to keep the puck barely out of his defender's reach and smoothly and calmly works his way to the goal.
For a hard-nosed hockey player, Tavares is surprisingly elegant.
8. Pavel Datsyuk: The Pavel Datsyuk
The most creative man in hockey is one of the few with a move named after him.
Pavel Datsyuk has some of the quickest hands in the entire sport, and the mild-mannered Red Wing quietly showcases what the combination of raw talent and a deep-seeded understanding of the game can earn you.
For years after he retires, people will still be referencing "The Datsyuk." Philadelphia's Claude Giroux copied the move in a shootout last year, and Datsyuk's own teammate Damien Brunner modified it earlier this week.
Still, nothing beats the original.
7. Jonathan Toews: The Double Deke
Jonathan Toews is known largely for his seriousness and his leadership, and these two traits more than serve as Toews trademarks.
But when it comes to moves on the ice, Toews has a go-to: the double deke.
He falls a step short of the Charlie Conway staple, but Toews has shown that he only needs two moves to put a goalie on the seat of his pants.
Of course, in order to not become predictable, he might throw in a little extra move, too.
6. Zdeno Chara: The 108.8
Chara is the best defenseman in the game, and while he makes his money from clearing the crease and winning battle after battle in the corner, it's the fact that he has the heaviest slapper in the game that put Chara center stage.
During All-Star weekend, we get to see the power of Chara's cannon in numerical form, but during the regular season, the best measuring stick of his ferocity is the hesitation you see in the eyes of the forwards who are lined up to block the shot.
No coach would ever call out a player for diving out of the way of this rocket that literally broke Ryan Callahan's leg.
5. Claude Giroux: The Collision Course
Philadelphia's new captain has a whole bag of tricks for setting up and scoring goals, but his go-to clearly involves going right in on goal.
Giroux's quick hands allow him to mesmerize his opponent as the goaltender tries to guess which way he is going. Giroux makes his move so late that half the time, the netminder's feeble attempt to stop the puck results in Giroux flying through the air as the puck finds the back of the net.
On a shorthanded steal against Pittsburgh in 2010, Giroux got tripped up by Marc-Andre Fleury en route to a fabulous goal, and as featured in the video here, he opened the Flyers' scoring in 2011-12 by going all-in on defending Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas.
4. Henrik and Daniel Sedin: The Twin Connection
Anyone who plays on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin must find themselves with mixed emotions.
On the one hand, you'll benefit from playing with two of the league's most prolific scorers; on the other hand, you're just never going to develop the kind of chemistry it takes to keep up with Sweden's most famous twin pairing.
The two have their process down to such a science that, despite their identical appearances, identical contracts and nearly identical careers, any good hockey fan can differentiate Henrik as "The Passer" and Daniel as "The Scorer."
In the video shown here, we see a great example of that creepy intuition that we all know identical twins possess. They move the puck so quickly that you cannot tell which is which.
Until the goal is scored, that is. Then you know it was Daniel doing the shooting.
3. Evgeni Malkin: The Down and Dirty
Evgeni Malkin is a scoring machine.
He regularly blasts power play goals from the high circle and has been known to dance around almost any defender out there.
But where Malkin is truly in a league of his own is along the goal line. Few players in NHL history have the sort of finesse and creativity Malkin utilizes behind the net and near the end boards.
And his greatest goal of all, featured in the video above, shows Malkin picking up the puck in the most harmless area on the ice, the corner, and in mere fractions of a second he has gotten through a defender and beaten the goalie.
You can't teach it. Just trademark it.
2. Steven Stamkos: The Laser
Steven Stamkos did not invent the one-timer.
He just does it better than almost anyone.
Anytime the Lightning are on the power play, their opponents would benefit from loading two or three players on Stamkos' side of the ice. Don't cover anyone else, just keep the puck away from Stammer.
He picks corners easily and puts the puck on a line almost every time. The puck is hard to track and impossible to stop.
With a quick windup and deadly accuracy, Stamkos has the game's premier one-timer, bar none. You can bet your bottom dollar that Martin St. Louis' tiny life flashed before his eyes as he lay in line of Stamkos' fire in the video provided.
1. Sidney Crosby: The Backhand Beauty
Hockey's best can score however he pleases.
Sidney Crosby is not limited to one move or one part of the ice, and to imply that he has one specialty would be ludicrous.
However, no one in hockey has more command of the backhand than Sidney Crosby, and that makes it his signature move.
He is uncommonly accurate when shifting off of the forehand, able to roof the puck crispy and make problems for goalies who are simply trying to track the shot.
Poor Jose Theodore had no chance to stop Crosby from putting this slick shot over the pad, and he spilled Theodore's water in the process.
And as the icing on the cake, he doesn't even need to be on his feet to score on the backhand.