SLOVENIAN FAMILY FORTUNE
Kopitar, a dynamic offensive talent who has led the Kings in scoring for five consecutive seasons, knows Slovenia will face a daunting task in Sochi, where its group also includes powerhouse host Russia, 2010 Olympic silver medalist the United States and Slovakia.
“We are going to go there and compete and play to our potential and try to surprise some guys,” said Kopitar.
“We are there for a reason. We have beaten some good teams and I think we are going to have a decent squad.”
Asked to outline his realistic hopes for Slovenia in Sochi, he said: “Our biggest goal is just to go there and perform, show that we can play hockey. We certainly want to win some games.
“If that’s going to happen, it’s even better — but we are going there to compete, play hockey and show, in the end, that we are a good hockey country.”
Although the Sochi Games are less than two months away, Kopitar has plenty to occupy him before then on the NHL front with the Kings riding high in the Western Conference after winning eight of their past 10 games.
“It is easy to forget about Sochi at the moment,” he said of playing for the 25-9-4 Kings, who sit third in the 14-team Western Conference standings.
“Sochi is still a little ways away so you definitely want to stay in the present.
“We have been playing some pretty good hockey and we are going to have to continue to do that just to keep pace.
“When the time comes for the Olympic Games, then that’s going to be fun.”
Matjaz Kopitar, head coach of Slovenia’s national team, stands on the bench during a game against the Czech Republic at last spring’s IIHF world championship tournament in Stockholm.