Posted June 01, 2012 on AP on Fox
Meet Anze Kopitar, one of the best players in the NHL who very few seem to know about. The basics are simple. The 24-year-old Slovenian center led the Los Angeles Kings in scoring for the fifth straight season, notching at least 25 goals each time. His career-high 51 assists this season were eighth-best in the league. But when you keep a low profile and play hockey in Southern California, it is easy to avoid the spotlight. That is quickly changing as the Kings close in on their first Stanley Cup title. ''When we're starting our games at 7:30 on the West Coast, a lot of people are sleeping,'' linemate Justin Williams said Friday of the sixth-year forward. ''In that aspect, he obviously flies under the radar. The important things are that we know how good he is. If the rest of the world wants to find out, they are doing it right now.'' Kopitar cut the Kings' magic number to three when his overtime goal gave Los Angeles a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. Not a bad way to thrust yourself into the public eye. Before this year, Kopitar had played in only six NHL postseason games - posting two goals and three assists in 2010 when the Kings lost to Vancouver in the first round. He missed last year's first-round loss to San Jose because of an ankle injury. ''Teams out West, for whatever reason, don't have the same coverage that all the East teams do, so you don't really hear too much about them,'' forward Jeff Carter said. ''He is definitely a guy that's kind of building up his name here in the playoffs with the run he's had. ''Not having played against him a lot, the Devils don't really know his tendencies. You can watch all the video you want, but I think you have to get out there and actually play against him to actually realize what he can do and what he's got.'' In 15 postseason games, Kopitar is tied with captain and linemate Dustin Brown for the team lead with seven goals and 16 points as the Kings have stormed to a 13-2 record. If people across North America didn't take notice of the big center before, it is impossible to miss him now. The Kings were 15-6-3 when he scored a goal during the season, and they are 92-36-13 overall when he finds the net, dating to his debut in the 2006-07 season. ''He probably doesn't like the attention very much, and goes about his business,'' said Mike Richards, who is in his first season with the Kings following a stint in Philadelphia. ''He comes to the rink every day, works hard. It might be a little surprising that a lot of guys in the East get more credit as hockey players than guys in the West, but he is definitely up there in the top five, top three.'' Kopitar, with his size and scoring ability, gives the Kings an advantage and luxury that teams crave but have a tough time finding. ''There are not many No. 1 powerful centers in this league. There is only maybe one a team, if that,'' Williams said. ''Kopy's skill level and his work ethic and his defensive-zone responsibilities are something that set him apart from a lot of the other players.'' Kopitar excels in his own end, too. He was ninth in the NHL with 76 takeaways. ''I've always had the mindset of going out to perform to the best or to the potential that I have,'' said Kopitar, the No. 11 pick in the 2005 NHL draft. ''If people notice me or not, it doesn't really matter except for me knowing that I do lay out there every night and do my best.'' The two-way game he plays is certainly not lost on stellar goalie Jonathan Quick, who is likely the biggest obstacle in Kopitar's path to the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP should the Kings capture the Cup. ''It was a little disappointing for quite a while,'' Quick said of Kopitar's relative anonymity. ''You see how well he's played for the past few years and it seems like he doesn't get as much praise as he definitely deserves. He is definitely one of the best players in the league, and I'm glad to see he's finally getting some press and attention. ''He's unbelievable.'' The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Kopitar was much less effusive in speaking about himself, which certainly fits into his obscurity. With higher-profile stars such as Richards and Brown on his team, it is easy for Kopitar to remain in the shadows and catch clubs off-guard - especially an Eastern team such as the Devils, who faced the Kings only twice this season, and not since October. ''I think everybody knows about his skill,'' Los Angeles defenseman Rob Scuderi said. ''One thing they don't maybe see is his size. He is a big guy. He doesn't get knocked off the puck easily, and he uses it to his advantage in the offensive and defensive zone.'' Now he is working to combine those talents to help the Kings win for the first time since they joined the NHL for the 1967-68 season. The only other time Los Angeles has reached the Stanley Cup finals was in 1993, a five-game loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Game 2 is Saturday night. ''We want to add something to our resume here,'' Williams said, ''and Kopy is not going to stop until he's got that.''

Game 1 reaction: Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar on OT goal

Anze Kopitar was the clutch performer Wednesday night in Game 1 with the game-winning overtime goal that sent the Kings ahead in the Stanley Cup Finals 1-0 against the New Jersey Devils. Here’s the look: Kopitar had the following to say, via L.A. Kings Insider: “It feels great. Every time you get the chance to finish it off in OT, you know, to face a world-class...

Anze Kopitar's game winning goal

Here is the game winning goal in over time by the Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar. Kopitar shows his speed as he gets behind the New Jersey Devils de <br&amp...

Anze Kopitar overtime hero in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final between the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings was exactly as I expected. These two clubs did not get to this stage by accident. Instead, with the incredible forechecking that was on display Wednesday night. Fans that had yet to see the two squads quickly identified how they were able to get to the finals stage. Sure, the offense was not on...

Anze Kopitar Is Circus Ugly Huh?

I was watching the highlights of the Stanley Cup Finals Game 1 last night, and I saw Anze Kopitar’s nasty breakaway goal in overtime to win the game. I was impressed, until I saw the interview with Kopitar. Can someone, uh, look at this guy and tell me I’m not the crazy one? I mean, what in God’s name has he been abusing? Is he injecting himself with Krokodil or something...

Anze Kopitar’s Incredible Goal Lifts Kings Past Devils in Game 1

What a freaking hockey game. Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals was a heck of a back-and-forth tussle that could have gone either way. It was a hard-hitting, fast-paced hockey game in which the goaltenders shined. Well, the goaltenders and Anze Kopitar. The Los Angeles center stepped up in overtime with the game tied at 1-1. The 24-year-old got behind New Jersey’s defense,...

Anze Kopitar scores nifty overtime goal to give Kings 1-0 series lead

Can't Stop Kopitar: Kings Lead 1-0

On a night where the New Jersey Devils were unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, it seemed inevitable that the Los Angeles Kings would come away with a Game One victory. Anze Kopitar's seventh goal of the postseason gave LA an overtime victory and an early series lead. The Devils will need to come out strong in Game Two and even up the series before hitting...

Game one in the books - Kings up 1-0

Game one of the Stanley Cup Final between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils is in the book, the Kings won game one by a score of 2-1 on an overtime goal from forward Anze Kopitar at the 08:13 mark of overtime.Game two is on Saturday June 5th at 07:00 PM on NBC.

In Case You Missed It: Kings crown NJ take 1-0 Cup Lead

Game 1 went to overtime and the game winner was scored by a  center just trying to keep his team in the game. Anze Kopitar found himself with the puck after a pass from Justin Williams and nothing but clear ice and New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur. Kopitar deked Broudeur and put the biscuit in the basket giving his L.A Kings a 2-1 overtime win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of...

Morning Skate: June 2

Los Angeles Kings @ New Jersey DevilsStanley Cup Final, Game 28:00 ET… TV: NBC, CBCPlayers to watch:LA-      Anze KopitarKopitar’s impact on a game goes beyond the box score.  He’s one of the top two-way players in today’s game and has the ability to take over in games.  How will he build off Wednesday’s overtime winner?NJ-      David ClarksonComing out of Game...

Devils miss chances to win Game 1

It was the lamentation of a man who was forced to admit a hard truth to himself. "It would have been nice to get a bounce but I don't believe we deserved to win tonight," coach Pete DeBoer said a few minutes after his New Jersey Devils dropped Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1, in overtime at The Prudential Center. Anze Kopitar's seventh...

New Jersey Devils mascot steals Hollywood sign “D”

Aside from ocean views, Newark, New Jersey and Los Angeles, California have nothing in common.  L.A. has smog.  Newark has snow.  L.A. has seven professional sports teams (including the Anaheim teams and USC football).  Newark has one.  L.A. has bleach-blonde toeheads.  Newark has gorilla juiceheads.  There are no commonalities.  There is no rivalry.  There is no hatred...

Who Made The Better Call?

from Justin Bourne of The Score, I’m a Canadian guy living in the US, so I’m quite familiar with the work of most national broadcasters. I love Bob Cole and Harry Neal (“Great save by…the goalie!”), and usually I love Jim Hughson. Now that I’m in the US, I get a lot of Doc Emrick, who is a whole bunch of fantastic himself (“Waffleboarded into the corner by Brodeur!”...
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