Above the Glass
by Samantha on 03/14/11 at 03:24 PM ET
Three things to know about me: 1) I love Anze Kopitar. 2) I love him even more when he roars out of the penalty box and dekes to the forehand to score his second career hat trick. 3) I have absolutely no idea what a deke is. Therefore, now would be a good time to learn. While I’m at it, I’ll cover dangle, dipsy doodle and of course, spinorama: made famous by players named Savard, made infamous by Linus Omark.
The local angles: Kopitar’s brother Gasper used to play for the Portland Winterhawks and one of my favorite games ever was a President’s Day matinee game in which I wandered right past the older bro on the concourse at the Memorial Coliseum. Just like that. Wandering among the peons with his girlfriend. And next year, Kopitar will quite possibly be facing off against Portland Winterhawk Ryan Johansen, who was chosen 4th overall in the 2010 Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johansen is currently considered their top prospect.
Is this a laundromat or a hockey game?: Like many things in hockey, a spin-o-rama is a simple move, but the fuss surrounding it is not. It involves a player making a sudden 180 or 360 degree turn to evade other players or goaltenders. The term was originated in the late 1960s by Montreal Canadiens’ play-by-play announcer Danny Gallivan. There is also the legendary Savardian spin-o-rama, so named in honor of Canadiens’ defenseman Serge Savard, who put his own stamp on the move. It was also made popular by Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Denis Savard, leading to some confusion as to its origins. The spin-o-rama is no less popular today. In fact, it has been resurrected thanks to young players like Steven Stamkos and Edmonton Oilers rookie Linus Omark. The latter could go on to win Stanley Cups, Olympic medals and donate millions to local charities, but he will always be remembered for using a spin-o-rama in his NHL debut game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He unleashed it during a shootout goal that would turn out to be the game winner for Edmonton.
I know it’s definitely not an ice cream shop: Dipsy doodle sounds like it should be on the 99 cent menu at Dairy Queen. In fact, it’s a series of quick moves and slick stick handling used to fake out defending players or goalies. Benoit Pouliot put this move to work in high style when he beat goalie Brent Johnson during a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins. And of course, there’s a player with whom it is eternally associated: Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Max Bentley was known as the “Dipsy Doodle Dandy” for the way he zigged and zagged his way through the opponents.
Maybe there’s something to be said for growing up in a large family on a farm: Bentley was raised in a family of 13 children on a farm in Saskatchewan. Hockey’s new Sutter family, the Staals, also grew up doing chores on their family’s farm in Thunder Bay, Ontario. They first started playing hockey on an outdoor rink their father built for them. Three are currently playing in the NHL, two of those have Stanley Cups and one is a Captain. Coincidence? I think not.
Since Jordan Eberle has mastered it and used it to score his first NHL goal, obviously I must learn what it is: A dangle is similar to dipsy doodle, in that it involves using a series of moves to outsmart another player or goalie. Aha, I get it. They dangle the puck in front of a goalie or player, making them commit to it, then snatch it away at the last minute. Elementary, dear Samantha. The local angle: Portland Winterhawk defenseman Troy Rutkowski has been cited for his skill with dangling. He’s also known affectionately among diehard fans as “Colorado Avalanche prospect Troy Rutowksi,” which was coined by an opposing team’s radio play-by-play announcer.
And finally, in case Kopitar decides to deke it again: If I understand correctly, dipsy doodle and dangling are forms of deking. It’s used to fake out the opponent before you do something like switch to a forehand to score a hat trick goal, for example.
Moral of the story: Ok, now I see why deking, dangling and dipsy doodling get broadcasters so excited. Not only are they a stellar display of puck protection and stick handling, they involve something that isn’t in any playbook, rulebook or other book. Playing the puck is one thing and can be learned, but playing with your opponents’ head is quite another because it requires raw instinct and a sixth sense that are part of a player’s unique gifts. Listen to players after they pulled off a deke, and they’ll tell reporters that they didn’t really think about it, they just saw the opportunity and took advantage of it. Now mind, I started blogging about hockey because I realized I loved the sport, but I didn’t understand it. So feel free to correct my intepretations. I still think dipsy doodle sounds like an ice cream sundae, and spin-o-rama sounds like a coin-operated fluff and fold establishment. But I do like to get my facts right.
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About Above the Glass
Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.
I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.
Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass