Throughout his career, Mike Ribeiro has always been a pass-first kind of player. He has 262 more assists than goals, and his slippery skating and precise puck handling skills lend themselves better to setting up chances, rather than scoring them. Defenders know this, yet they will still fall for one of the endless tricks he has up his sleeve.
About midway through the 2nd period of Monday night's game against the Blue Jackets, Ribeiro found himself breaking toward the Columbus net with teammate Craig Smith. Only Jackets defender David Savard stood between the two Predators and Sergei Bobrovsky.
Ribeiro cranked his stick back as far as it would go, and Savard committed to a sliding block the incoming slap shot. There was just one problem: instead of shooting, Ribeiro pulled off at the last second and gently slid the puck under Savard's stick and toward a wide open Smith. Bobrovsky, like most in attendance, was caught so off guard, he couldn't recover before Smith deposited the pass into a gaping net.
Rewind to May of 2013, and Ribeiro is playing for the Washington Capitals as they host the New York Rangers for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The teams are scoreless overtime, and the Capitals are on the power play, thanks to Ryan McDonagh (one of New York's key penalty killers) flipping a puck over the glass.
Ribeiro plays catch with defenseman Mike Green, before skating toward the circle and winding up for a slap shot. Ryan Callahan sells himself to get in the way of the shot, which allows Ribeiro to tap the puck back over to an unopposed Green. The ensuing one timer would be the last of the game, and put Washington up two games to none in the series.
It's worth noting that Ribs tried that move about 10 more times that series, and no one would bite. Looks like a year and a half was long enough to make everyone forget!
The assist against Columbus was his 28th point of the season, and Ribeiro is currently on pace for about 70 points this year; his best season since 2010-2011 with Dallas. There were plenty of question marks surrounding the 34-year-old when he was signed in the offseason, but even if he doesn't reach quite that high he's turned into possibly the best free agent acquisition of 2014.