NHL Playoff Questions: Can the Kings Survive Without Kopitar?
Dave Dulberg takes a look at six pressing questions heading into the NHL Playoffs, beginning with the Los Angeles Kings and Anze Kopitar:
1. Can the Los Angeles Kings' offense survive without Anze Kopitar?
The Los Angeles Kings (46-30-6) are making their second consecutive appearance in the postseason for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. However, injuries to their two biggest offensive threats Anze Kopitar (25 goals and 48 assists) and Justin Williams (22 goals and 35 assists) at the end of March, could plague Terry Murray’s team in their first round matchup with the Pacific Division champs, the San Jose Sharks.
Although Williams appears ready to return from his separated shoulder injury, the void left by the broken ankle to their All-Star center, Kopitar, will be near impossible to fill.
Even with Kopitar, the Kings ranked 25th in the league in goals (2.5) per game during the regular season. Los Angeles comes in to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with other viable offensive options in captain Dustin Brown (57 points), veteran left winger Ryan Smyth (47 points) and two-way defenseman Drew Doughty (40 points).
But they are facing a Sharks team that led the division in goals per game (3.0). San Jose's roster features five 60-point scorers (Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley and Logan Couture). The Kings will need more than a few contributors.
To pull off the upset over heavily-favored San Jose, Los Angeles needs Dustin Penner (six points in 19 games, including being pointless in the final 12 games, since being acquired at the trade deadline) and offensive-minded defenseman Jack Johnson, who went 12 straight games down the stretch without a point, to step up their games.
I don’t see this leap of faith coming to fruition for these two underachievers. And it might be time for Los Angeles fans to trade in that purple and black for some purple and gold.
Be sure to check back for the final five NHL Playoff questions.
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