The `old’ Kopitar returns

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One of the primary questions surrounding the Kings in the early part of this season was, “What’s wrong with Anze Kopitar?” Through the first 38 games of the season, Kopitar had 10 goals and 19 assists, pedestrian numbers at best. Were the pressures of his new contract and/or being named an alternate captain getting to Kopitar?

Throughout the struggles, Terry Murray said he wasn’t worried about Kopitar, and perhaps now Murray’s patience is being rewarded. In his 17 games in February and March, Kopitar has 11 goals and eight assists, and he has scored a goal in four consecutive games heading into tonight’s big game against Vancouver.

Here are Murray’s thoughts on Kopitar’s turnaround…

Question: Throughout the season, when Kopitar’s offensive numbers weren’t there, you praised his work ethic and defense. Were you always confident that his offensive game would come around, and how has that situation evolved?

MURRAY: “Kind of as I expected from the beginning of the year. Everybody knows the talent level and skill level that he has, that he is a point producer and a playmaker, and that never leaves a player. I’ve seen this many, many times over the years in this business, where you come in and change the focus of a team and a player. As a result of that, you take a step back in other areas, but it only is a matter of time before it starts to come back around again. It’s as expected that good things would start to happen on the numbers side of it.”

Question: Is it just that he feels more comfortable, that the defensive side becomes instinctive and then he can go back to feeling comfortable on offense?

MURRAY: “I think it’s just a matter of implementing everything. The offensive part of the game is such a special part of the game. If you retool and you’re trying to get the focal point on the defensive part of the game, there’s that timing issue and there’s a matter of trying to sort it out as you play the game. I don’t know baseball that well, but I would think that with a hitter, if you’re asking them to make a change in bat speed or bat angle, or some area that concerns that, to improve it in the long run, you’re going to go through a dip. That’s all this was with Kopi and the offensive players. They really want to buy in. The thing that I’ve really been proud with him is that, from the first day of the camp, when we talked about the defensive part of the game, he has been really conscientious and working hard on bringing that to his game. He’s becoming a real complete player, and that’s how it has to be in order to become a champion.”

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  • CanadianKing

    Ummm.. I hate to be a downer here but Kopi still has a glaring -17 rating, worst on the team and worse than last years -15. Considering the Kings are a more defensive minded team this year, wouldn’t you think his +/- should be improving?

    I don’t want to hear the argument “+/- is a useless stat” because that doesn’t explain why everyone else on the team has an improved +/- this year.

  • TB

    Its a tough stat to look past. But if anything, the stat is an indication of how he struggled offensively to start the year. Its a two way statistic obviously…If he produced more offense at the start of the year, it would counter-balance the minus. Ya?

  • Roger

    Here are my thoughts as to why Kopi’s +/- has slipped this year.
    1_ He is playing against the opposition teams top line.
    The chances are that his line is going to get scored on more.

    2_ The wingers such as Calder and O’Sullivan did not
    help him in this department.

    Calder and O’Sullivan were not so to speak top line wingers in this league, and that fact alone has had a negative impact on his overall stats. That’s why the trade of O’Sullivan for J Williams was inevitable.

    Roger

  • CanadianKing

    Well to stir the pot a little further…

    In his last 20 games (basically when his offensive numbers started to improve), Kopitar has 22 points. During that same stretch he had a -10 rating.

    Any theories? TM doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.

  • Duckhunter

    It’s interesting how Calder is the reason for everyones downfall on this team. According to most, we have Satan on our team.

    For most of last year Kopi was – mid to high 20′s, who’s fault was that? I can tell you it wasn’t Calders, but O’Sull was on that line, and if I’m not mistaken, O’Sull was voted best defensive forward, so that doesn’t make sense. Lets just say what it is, Kopi still has a little work to do.

  • GoKings09

    I know its been said before but you have to look at +/- with a grain of salt. Yes it is useful in some ways showing when a player is on the ice for a goal for or against since oftentimes you may contribute to a goal without getting a point but at the same time you may have a goal against that is no fault of yours. Sometimes a player will step on the ice for a few seconds and a goal is scored even though it isn’t their fault. I find it more accurate (although it is more subjective and complicated) to simply watch the player and judge how well he is playing both on defense and offense and his impact on each game in a positive or negative way.

  • Len-Det

    Frankly the only stat that matters is the W-L stat. So far it’s been an improvement over last year. Kopi is still leading the team in points and has been pulling away for the last couple of weeks. To me that is improvement.

  • GoKings09

    PS- I forgot to mention that +/- also isn’t counted using goals scored on PP or goals against on PK so PP points don’t affect +/-

  • nykingfan

    How about using your eyes?
    Do you notice Kopitar coming back on D and making big plays..taking away opposition scoring chances?
    Do you notice Kopitar out of position or not hustling?
    Forget the stats…baseball is for stats, not hockey. Special players make big plays at crucial points in the game. That’s what Kopitar does…both offensively and defensively.
    Kopi’s a perfect example of what a useless stat +/- is.