The Los Angeles Kings have lost two of their top offensive threats in the span of just six days. First it was Monday’s injury to Justin Williams that rose up to test the team’s resolve. And Saturday night saw Anze Kopitar, the team’s leading scorer, go down with a broken right ankle.
Kopitar left his team’s 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche with 4:21 to go in the second period. It was a play that looked like many others, but when Ryan O’Bryne of the Avs checked Kopitar against the boards in the Colorado zone the Kings’ playoff hopes took a major blow.
“It’s a broken ankle. He’ll be out a minimum of six weeks,” head coach Terry Murray said. “He’s your top player, your top forward, so there’s quite a hole that’s going to be there now with him out of the lineup for this length of time. But you know what? I’ve been through these kinds of things before, with top guys being out with injuries, and it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up.”
“Injuries happen during the year, and you don’t want to have your best player go down,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “But if that’s the case, we need to shoulder the responsibility collectively and find a way to keep going as a team – because no other team is going to feel sorry for us. Maybe with this adversity, we’ll find out what we’re made of.”
The speeches are nice, but you’d have to be really naive to think that the Kings aren’t in serious trouble here.
Kopitar has played in a team record 330 consecutive games and was one of the team’s key components, so he’ll most assuredly be missed. But the Kings are hoping that a stingy defensive group can lead the way into the post-season and garner at least some success.
“Not one guy can replace a guy like Kopitar, both offensively and defensively,” said Ryan Smyth. “Kopi plays a lot of minutes and in a lot of situations. So everybody has to collectively come together and regroup, and everybody has got to fill a role. But our defence is probably the staple of our game, and has been since Terry got here.”
Kopitar has 73 points in 75 games this season, including 26 goals.