Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kopitar Week: Kopitar's Greatest Moments

This Sunday, everyone's favorite Slovenian is turning 21 years old. To celebrate, we here at Battle of California are going to spend this week commemorating the lovable bastard, covering what he's improved upon since his first game, what he still needs to work on, and where he sits in the hierarchy of young stars. Today, however, we're going to kick things off with three of my favorite Kopitar moments. If you have one you'd like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments.

10/06/06- Chris Pronger Gets Burned

Why I Like it: As a Kings fan, you're used to hyped prospects that don't work out. Pavel Rosa, Jeff Tambellini, Denis Grebeshkov, and Jens Karlsson were all supposed to electrify the Kings, only to fall by the wayside once it was time to perform. Even Dustin Brown had seemed like a possible bust at that point. So I took the rumors from Kings training camp that there was a new superstar on hand with a grain of salt. But after that goal I became a believer. Kopitar swung around Chris Pronger and handcuffed JS Giguere and I was hooked. From the first game, Kopitar was a star. I was worried that Kopitar would eventually disappoint me but I think that fear has been assuaged now.

2/10/07- Kopitar Makes Nashville Look Ridiculous (Skip forward a minute)

Why I Like it: I like it for a couple of reasons. One, Kopitar took a pretty big hit from Martin Erat at the start of this game and rallied to score 2 goals. There aren't many opportunities for Kopitar to show that killer instinct that he possesses, but he did in this game. Two, Kopitar shows patience. A lot of players will take the first opportunity they have to try and score a goal. It makes sense, in a way; most defenses are so good that you never know when you'll get another chance. Kopitar, though, has an uncanny ability to wait, and wait, and then wait some more. He knows that he's good enough to create more opportunities and uses the defender's assumption that he'll take the shot when he has it against him to create a scoring opportunity. (Sorry, that's a lot of "he's." You can figure it out, you're smart people.) That patience was a hallmark of his first year and this goal is the greatest example of it.

10/16/07- Kopitarded

Why I Like it: I still believe that this goal is absolutely unstoppable. There is just no goaltender in the NHL that can move to one side and still outreach Kopitar while he's going the other way. Maybe if the goalie knows that Kopitar will pull it, but even then it's iffy. Kopitar pretty much cemented himself as the unquestioned star of the Kings with this goal.


Earl Sleek said...

I have to laugh at that third one, if for no other reason than the triumphant exclamation "and the Kings' losing streak is over!"

Such a nice double-edged celebratory moment.

Earl Sleek said...

Oh, and I tried to spot myself in the first video, because I was totally sitting in Row B, but then I remembered that game was pre-green shirt.

That was an awesome game -- I got to meet Mark McGwire, among other adventures.

Connie said...

That shootout goal. I remember watching it and thinking that Kopi didn't pull through because the original camera angle was weird. But then they said it went in and I was so freaking happy. Omg, such a great goal.

I don't think you could have found a cuter raccoon.

Ksy92003 said...

This wasn't exactly a Kopitar-dominant game, but one of my favorite moments was Kopitar's two-goal game against the Stars on 11/10/07.. you know, the one where the Kings scored five goals in 5:07, overcoming a late 4-0 deficit to winning 6-5 in overtime?

Kopitar had the game-tying goal on a nice centering pass from Lubo (off of Brown's stick) to a wide-open Kopitar with a Turco-less left side of the net, and the electricity was amazing in the building, and you could see it on his face. Likewise, when he scored the game-winning goal, on the backhand through Turco's five-hole.. just the look of joy on Kopi's face summed up the evening.

Because of how the Kings won that game, and the incredible atmosphere inside the building with that comeback (one I still can't believe actually happened, and I was there in person), that's the one moment that I'll always remember him for.