Murray praises Kopitar

Anze Kopitar’s production has been a big topic of discussion this season, not only on an individual basis but because the Kings have struggled to find a high-scoring first line. Kopitar has 10 goals and 19 assists through 38 games, which would put him on a full-season pace for 22 goals and 41 assists. In his first season, Kopitar had 20 goals and 41 assists, and last season he had 32 goals and 45 assists. Here are Terry Murray’s thoughts, from this morning, about Kopitar’s play…

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Question: Expectations are pretty high for Kopitar, given his last couple years and the contract he signed. Where is his game right now?

MURRAY: “Well, a contract, to me, has nothing to do with it. That’s nobody’s fault. That’s just the market. That’s the way it is. So I never enter into any discussion with a player and discuss that at all. I think his development has been tremendous. He’s 21 years old, in his (third) year in the league, and he’s seeing prime minutes and situations and he’s playing the game full-ice. I look at the start of the year and training camp and I was not seeing that, so to me there’s a tremendous improvement in his overall game. His work ethic is tremendous every day, and we’ll just keep pushing on through this area of the game. It comes together rather quickly, actually, for a young player like that who continues to show that kind of intensity. I only need to look at the team we played last night, with Carter and Richards. I remember very well those two guys coming out of junior and their game and where it is today.”

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  • Scott

    Kopi’s definitely rebounded from his slow start. He should have about 5 more goals and assists than he currently has, but it’s encouraging to hear what Murray has to say.

  • anthony

    Maybe he should call Marc Crawford for some advice here.
    Crawford had no difficulty pumping some big numbers out of Kopitar.

    Now I understand that defense is what wins Cups. And I appreciate his commitment to defense, but at the same time, this 59 year old coach placed Calder with Brown and Kopi for 11 games even when they were producing nothing.

    Now, a the team can’t expect Quick and Ersberg to shut out the opponents all the time. Some days you’re gonna have to put up more than just one goal. This coach has failed misrebly at that. And I can see from these faces, the players are terried to screw up in front him. Its like they don’t enjoy playing for him. Nobody takes ant chances offensively.
    And you’re not gonna make the playoffs, when your offense is averaging 2 goals a gome.

    Either be a complete coach or go away.

  • Nick

    You can see it in their faces? That’s one of the greatest things I have ever heard.

  • Gary

    anthony (eklund), Neil, whoever you are….

    You think the Kings doesn’t enjoy playing for a coach that keeps his head on during games, never loses control, shows them that staying patient & not freaking out is the key…..why don’t you replay yesterday game…those players PLAY for the team…they play for each other, they play for the coach.

    Winning is winning….win by an inch or mile…it’s a win & the Kings know that if they can continue winning, the guys like Kopi/Brown/Sully will start producing….it’s a matter of time.

  • Jesse

    “….he’s seeing prime minutes and situations and he’s playing the game full-ice.”

    That is the key right there. Although Kopi’s points are down, the well rounded skill he is building is what is making him become a full circle player.

  • Kings4K3

    Gotta laugh when I see people complain about Kopitar and how he should be traded for Kovalchuk because he doesn’t score. The guy’s a playmaker and not necessarily out there to score goals. He plays against the top checking lines in the league and he’s a 21 years old learning a whole new system that stresses the defense-first mentality. So he struggles to score in shoot-outs, big deal. That’s just something that he’ll have to work on over the next few years. I can remember a skinny guy who wore #99 that wasn’t so great on breakaways either…Yet he is still considered by many to be the greatest to ever lace’em up. Stop judging players just by the number of goals they score. There’s a lot of other things that go on down in the defensive zone that matter more in Kopi’s game and overall development as a good two-way player. Would anyone rather have Kopi scoring 40 goals this year, but have our team defense stink like last year? Forget it. Patience is the thing with this team. Once all aspects of the defensive game gel, we’ll get those UFA snipers so many of you are crying for.

  • Anonymous

    Anthony have you ever played hockey???? You really are clueless…..i pity a youth coach when you have kids….you will berate the man to death. Murray is doing a great job with what he has…..werent you one of those that thought this team was gonna be worthless this year…..now all you do is bash Murray when he has this team playing so well together and giving us real hockey fans some hope. Playoff hockey IS 2-1 hockey.

  • neil

    This is Neil not Anthony…..To me its all about winning…The offense will come but the d needed fixing…badly!!!!

  • EAT THE RICH

    I think Frolov/Kopitar/Brown would score a lot of points, but I don’t think Murray really want’s all 3 of them on the same line. It would be interesting to see O’Sullivan play with Zoos in place of Frolov, though.
    I just find it frustrating that Murray seems intent on NOT pairing up certain guys. I like when he juggles lines, but I’d rather see it changed before the game and played all the way through.
    Murray wants a balanced team yet won’t create lines that are balanced all the way through.
    My harping on his 4th line is for a reason. It’s unbalanced and, therefore, must be weaker than the others.
    I’d at least like to see him set 4 balanced lines that he has no fear of playing in any situation. I think the players have shown a willingness to work within the system, so why should 3 forwards be sitting for so long?
    Finally, Ivanans looked good playing with talented players. He’s hitting well and playing positionally fairly well (or as well as he seems capable of playing). I though it was a good idea to pair him with Zoos cuz Zoos is arguably the best defensive center.
    WHy doesn’t Murray continue to balance strengths with weaknesses?

  • Chong

    Has Murray ever watched tape of Kopitar? Even in his rookie year Kopitar played better than this year. We’re finally seeing the Kopitar of old the last couple of weeks. Seriously, Murray, get a clue.

  • Beavis

    Keep in mind that Kopi is just 21 years old, the number 1 center on a team with a new coach/approach. I’m sure he;s feeling the pressure without Cammi’s help

  • Couldntwinwith99either

    I really think Frolov should get some time with the No. 1 line. He had a lot more jump than Kopi and his defense has been better this year. Give Kopi some time and he will be back, but maybe top line duties are too much right now.

  • Cry Baby

    Eat:

    If the Kings desired to have a balanced attack, you’re right they come up with a different 4th line. But having balance means more than than throwing out 4 lines that can score. There are only a handful of teams in this league that can realistically do that successfully.

    Most teams have a couple of lines that can score or are at least a scoring threat, a checking line and a line that can bang bodies. That’s exactly what the Kings have, you can keep wanting something else but you’re not going to get it at least in the short term.

    Different lines can have different roles and still achieve balance in the big picture.

  • EAT THE RICH

    CryBaby – Most teams are stuck in the past.
    We have the horses to play puck possession.
    I wouldn’t propose it if I didn’t think we couldn’t really do it.
    In fact, even though we weren’t scoring much, in the beginning of the season we were more possessive and gave up less shots per game – remember all those game we gave up less than 20 shots?
    I’ve already seen this team do it. So, I believe it’s possible.
    Of course, the coach has to believe its possible too.

  • Cry Baby

    Or is it most teams don’t have the talent or depth? Other than the Red Wings what NHL teams in your opinion can put out four solid lines?

  • tom

    Murray brought in a new system that focuses on being responsible defensively, with additional emphasis on the center’s duties in a dynamic defense as opposed to Crawford’s static, stand-still “stick in the lane” methods, and Kopi had to adjust. So, he scored fewere goals the first quarter of the season. That is fine with me.
    Murray is teaching the top line to play against the other teams top line. When he has the last change at home, he puts Kopi against Nash, Kopi against Ovechkin, Kopi against Datsyuk. The University of Murray is going to make Kopi invulnerable to line-matching in road games, plus he just got rid of La Barbarian. All is well!

  • nykingfan

    Anthony that was a ridiculous post.
    All we need to look at this year is two things. Goals against and points. Both are significantly improved over last season. It’s 2009 and we’re squarely in the middle of a playoff battle.
    How nice was it last January watching Kopitar flash his offensive magic while we were already eliminated from the playoffs?

    As Kings fans we owe our happiness to DL, TM, and the great bunch of players they’ve put together.
    Thanks to them, I can’t wait to watch the 2nd half and watch these guys battle every night for a playoff spot. That’s something none of us could realistically have hoped for before the season started.
    Anyone who’s still upset with the Gm and coach need to find another team to root for. The Islanders can sure use your enthusiasm and support.

  • Vicarious

    Good attitude by the coach. The King’s defense was lousy for many years and if it means the offense suffers slightly, a little, a lot, or a huge amount to fix long standing problems, so be it. Whatever the price to the offence is worth it. Kings are playing much better defense and give up far fewer quality chances. Being a bit more defensive minded does not mean Kopitar cannot or will not score more in the future.

    If the players free lance or play up ice too much, well, sure they can score more. But this leaves gaps for the opponent to easily exploit. Overall, the team suffers. Its a balance and not so easy to find it, and you need talent, but defense wins.

    This coach knows the game and he has no problems benching folks for doing something he does not like.

    Now if we can just get the King’s marketing department to behave with similar good sense like TM and DL, I’d be overall pleased. Rather than bored and filling time.

  • What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

    People talking about the playoffs, prepare yourselves for a long second half of the season. The Kings very well should, and probably will, play better than they have in the past, and that’s great. However, 2/3 of their games have been home games so far, so 2/3 of their games will be road games.

    The second half of this season will be about team building, and building the character of each individual on the team with the adversity they will face. I’m glad Terry Murray will be coaching them through it, as I fully expect them to make the most of the experience–especially with two goaltenders who sell out every night.

    The one thing I still think they’re missing is good hands in front of the net. Hopefully, they’ll have the opportunity to make a conservative move, sometime during the middle of the season, to work a veteran into the lineup who has those hands. Someone referred to Cammi, but everyone knew before the end of last season that he was not a team player, and already gone. Still, it’s hands like that the Kings will need to add to bring balance to a great defensive team with improved stick-to-stick passing and hard hitting.

    Sure, I’d love to see them in the playoffs, but I won’t be crushed if they miss them. I’ll be happy to see them look like a team that belongs in the playoffs, and if they get a chance to feel the playoff tempo this year, it’s a big bonus.

  • nykingfan

    I’m not counting on them making the playoffs, but I think they have a legitimate shot. Their style of play should do them well playing on the road. It’s important to keep the shot total down, which will also take the home crowds out of the games. The toughest part will be the back to back road games.
    I agree that it will be fun watching them grow as a team during the 2nd half. Everything they’ve done so far this year is a positive.

  • Anonymous

    Anthony,

    Obviously you don’t go to the games or have ever been to a practice session. These boys are having the time of their life’s. I can’t recall the last roster where I’ve seen the team smiling, joking, and having FUN during practice or a game. Get a clue, go to a game.

  • EAT THE RICH

    I blame the ping-pong table for the scoring woes.
    The guys like Moller, Handzus, Frolov, and Kopi need to get the kids playing hall-soccer. It’ll help them work on team creativity and group-thinking.

  • Frank

    I a Flyers fan, but I am also a hockey JUNKIE. Even though I live just outside of Philly, I still order the Center Ice Package every year. I watch a lot of Kings games (since that tend to start after the Flyers games). I think they are going the right way as an organization. The have a lot of good management (from Philly). Terry Murry is a good coach. The Kings also have a ton of young talent. Calder is still a bum. I enjoy watching Kopitar play and think he will be a good player for years to come. He is young so give him some time. Jeff Cater got off to a slow start, but this year he is tearing it up. Good luck on continued success, but GO FLYERS!

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