A lot of what your idea of the game of the year depends on the kind of fan you are. We all obsessively follow a favorite team but we do it for different reasons: some people follow them for the drama, some people follow them for the fighting, some people follow them for the technical brilliance they display night to night, and some people follow them because they have nothing better to do. (You know who you are, Steve!)
The best thing about sports, of course, is that everyone's right. It can be all things to all people all at once. The Kings have had an eventful year and they have a plethora of games that can be considered the game of the year. Here are a few of those options, with attention paid to the various motivations of Kings fans.
Best Game of the Year (Technical Division)
November 4th, 2010 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
This game was an amazing example of commitment to the Kings' system against a high-flying, tough opponent. It was the culmination of 2 years' work for head coach Terry Murray, who had preached getting back in your zone, sealing off your man and getting chances off turnovers. The Kings did all of these things, got a turnover, and then had it converted on a pretty goal by Justin Williams for the only goal of the game. On the defensive side of the ice, defensemen Drew Doughty & Willie Mitchell blanketed then scoring leader Steven Stamkos, limiting him to 3 mostly ineffectual shots on goal and driving his linemate Steve Downie to such distraction that he was kicked out of the game. It was a beautiful example of a team commitment at the expense of the self.
Best Game of the Year (Kicked Ass Division)
March 8, 2010 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
If you're just looking for an uncompetitive game that feels like you put the difficulty on Rookie setting, this is the game for you. The Columbus Blue Jackets had 11 shots on goal. 11! If I hadn't seen the game I'd swear they agreed to play without sticks. The Kings won this game 6-0, with 3 goals at even strength and 3 on the power play. They directed 35 shots on goal and chased Blue Jackets starter Steve Mason out of the net with 4 goals in 13 shots. It was a straight up ass kicking and it was fun to watch. Nail biters are for chumps.
Best Game of the Year (Individual Division)
April 8th, 2010 vs. Phoenix Coyotes
Some people love the game because of the personalities and individual drama. For those people, they'll probably look to a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. A game where Drew Doughty did this:
That was probably the goal of the year (although Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown tried to beat it at the last second) and it highlighted the Kings' 2010 player of the year in Drew Doughty. Doughty was 20 for a great majority of the year and all he did was score 49 points, get nominated for the Norris Trophy, win a gold medal, and dazzle people from night to night with plays like the one above. The Kings actually lost that game, in a shootout, but Doughty was chosen as first star and played amazing. It was a great year, a breakout year, and the start of hopefully better things to come for Doughty.
Best Game of the Year (ADD Dvision)
December 26th/27th, 2010 vs. Anaheim Ducks/San Jose Sharks
It happened just over the past 2 days but hey, these games weren't bad. A 4-1 shellacking of their cross-regional rival followed by a 4-0 pasting of the other team in the state? Where they outshoot their opponents by a combined total of 67-43? 2games where the Kings had 2 periods where they scored 4 goals? Yeah, that was pretty cool. The Kings were led by Anze Kopitar in these last 2 games, who had 5 points (1 g, 4 a) while holding his counterparts, Ryan Getzlaf and Joe Thornton, scoreless. If you can't remember more than a week at a time you're remembering a pretty good week.
Best Game of the Year
April 19, 2010 vs. Vancouver Canucks
Like I said, everyone has their own definition of what makes the best game of the year. For me, and for most people I imagine, it's this one. This was the Kings' first home playoff game in 8 years and in the arena it felt like everyone holding their breath the whole time, only to finally let it out once the Kings made it back. The arena was swaying 10 minutes before the game even started, with chants of "Go Kings Go!" rocking the foundations. The Kings jumped out to a 4-1 lead, and each goal the timbre of the crowd got higher and higher as they took less and less time to think about what had just happened and more and more on pure, guttural reaction.
It was one of those games where the hair on your neck stands up and you get that tingling in your jaw like you just ate a bunch of Sour Patch Kids and it's not until you're at home and in bed before you realize that you can't speak and the sides of your mouth are splitting from smiling and you wish you could rewind the past few hours and live it all again. It's one of those games where you can't ever imagine not loving this team.
All of these games could be considered the best game of the year (but come on, it's the last one), but I think the one thing we can all agree on is that the best game of the year is, and always will be, the next one.