Anze Kopitar and the Very Slow Start

USATSI_8944942_154158418_lowresMuch has been made about the struggles of Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar. With just 10 points in 20 games, the 28-year-old Slovakian seems to be underperforming thus far. He did pick up two goals against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night, but it’s still hard to say that his stats are indicative of what he’s capable of.

In 2014-2015, Kopitar finished with 64 points in 79 games and had 16 goals, six of which were on the power play. So far this season, he’s scored just one goal on the man advantage.

Charting the course Kopitar will take over the course of a season has never been easy. Last season, the numbers materialized after a slow start that saw him put up just three points in his first 11 games. But over a run of five games in December of 2014, he exploded for a dozen points from the 16th to the 27th of the month. He went on to lead the Kings in scoring, as usual, and turned the tide on early predictions.

So is Kopitar in the same boat this year?

So far, he has just 33 shots on goal. On Sunday, he scored two goals on two shots. But he’s gone through long stretches without propelling any offence, including on November 17th against the Philadelphia Flyers. In that game, Kopitar managed 30 shifts without a shot on target. He was also dismal in the faceoff circle.

Since his arrival in the NHL in 2006-2007, Kopitar has been a force for the Kings. He piled up 61 points in his debut season and only managed less than 60 points a season once in his career thus far – and that was when he only scored 42 points in 47 games in 2012-2013, the season shortened by the lockout.

The numbers tell a tale of a player who is a reliable but streaky scorer, which in turn suggests that things could even out by the time the book is closed on 2015-2016.

The smart money is that Anze Kopitar will pick up the pace sooner rather than later and that his statistics will once again reach some serious numbers. If Sunday’s game is any indication, the pace is already picking up.


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