Anze Kopitar injured in L.A. Kings win over Blue Jackets, but it’s not known how serious it is

The Kings’ latest victory, a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday at Staples Center, was tempered by an unspecified upper-body injury to center Anze Kopitar, who was hurt during a second-period collision behind the net and couldn’t return to the game. Kopitar played 10 minutes, 39 seconds, below his season average of 19:36. It wasn’t clear if he could join the Kings for a five-game trip that begins Tuesday against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

“He’s all right,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of Kopitar.

Asked if Kopitar would make the trip, Sutter said, “He’s all right.”

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Three things about the L.A. Kings rout of the hapless Oilers

Here are my first few paragraphs from Tuesday’s game story:

“The Kings didn’t actually score on every shift of Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center. It only seemed like it. The Kings didn’t create a scoring on every dash down the ice against the hopelessly overmatched Oilers. It only appeared to be the case.

“There will be nights when the puck doesn’t settle into the back of the net as easily or as often as it did during the Kings’ 6-1 rout of the Oilers. Defending their Stanley Cup championship certainly will be more difficult than it was Tuesday, when the Kings seemed to be skating downhill.

“After all, the St. Louis Blues visit Staples Center on Thursday.

“The Blues are one of the NHL’s elite teams.

“Clearly, the Oilers are not.”

Here are three thoughts about the Kings’ blowout victory:

First, that Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli line continues to roll. Pearson had two goals and an assist. Carter scored a goal and added an assist and Toffoli had a goal and an assist. Pearson has a team-leading four goals, Carter has three and Toffoli has two for the Kings, who have scored 12 in four games to start the season.

Second, Darryl Sutter said he would rather had gotten “the cob” for goalie Jonathan Quick than win his 100th game as the Kings coach. Cob? Well, it’s a folksy term for shutout since an ear of corn looks like a zero if you turn it the right way. Have we mentioned Sutter is a farmer back home in Viking, Alberta?

Third, the Oilers are a poor team and weren’t very competitive, which marked the second consecutive pushover the Kings faced, including their 4-1 rout of the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Things get tougher with the arrival of the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. The Blues will hit back. They will score and play with the sort of grit and determination that you would expect from a team that believes it can make a deep playoff run. Don’t expect a third straight one-sided result in the Kings’ favor, in other words.

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Injured Kings forward Marian Gaborik won’t play against Oilers

Marian Gaborik didn’t participate in the Kings’ morning skate and couldn’t play Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers because of an unspecified injury that also prevented him from playing in several games during the preseason. Gaborik recorded an assist for his first point of the season and played 15:56 in the Kings’ victory Sunday over Winnipeg. Kings coach Darryl Sutter, as is his custom, declined to speak about Gaborik’s injury. The Kings were already without forward Trevor Lewis and defenseman Jake Muzzin because of injuries. There is no timetable for either player to return to the lineup, and it’s unclear how long Gaborik might be out. Or how he aggravated the injury.

The Kings’ lines looked like this at the morning skate:

Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards

Dwight King, Jarret Stoll, Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli

Kyle Clifford Andy Andreoff, Jordan Nolan

Their defense pairs were unchanged.

Jonathan Quick was first off the ice, so he’s your starter.

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Kings coach Darryl Sutter likes watching hockey on the television

Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks to players during practice at the Staples Center last June. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks to players during practice at the Staples Center last June. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kings coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t in a mood to talk Monday, less than 24 hours after the team’s first victory of the season. He was in a hurry to get back into the comfortable confines of the coach’s office in order to watch the Colorado-Boston game on TV. No doubt he also watched the Ducks-Buffalo contest later in the day. Sutter is a hockey junkie. “OK, I’m going back,” he said after a few minutes with reporters Monday.

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Three things about the Kings’ first victory of the new season

The Kings took a 4-1 victory from the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday at Staples Center, their first win after a couple of clunkers to start their Stanley Cup defense. Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, aka That 70s Line, each had a goal and an assist. Anze Kopitar scored his first goal of the season and Martin Jones made 29 saves.

Here are three things about the game, which was a step in the right direction:

First, That 70s Line is carrying the Kings so far, having accounted for all but one of the team’s six goals to start the season. That’s good and bad. It’s good because you have to figure Kopitar and Marian Gaborik will begin to produce more, especially once the third member of the line is solidified. Or as close to it as it gets with Darryl Sutter as coach of the Kings. Kopitar and Gaborik started out with Dustin Brown, but Sutter switched Justin Williams onto their line for Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes and kept Williams there for Sunday’s game against Winnipeg.

Second, Kopitar pulled no punches when asked about his line’s lack of production. Said Kopitar: “It can be better. Definitely a step in the right direction. I think we were moving the puck better. We had some zone time and we were creating some chances. But there is definitely room for improvement and we’re going to work on it.”

Third, Jones continues to amaze as Jonathan Quick’s backup. Nothing seems to faze him, not that the Jets represented an especially difficult challenge. Said Toffoli of Jones: “That guy’s a machine. That guy does it all. He’s such a great goalie.”

 

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Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s nutty quote of the day

Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about pulling Jonathan Quick from Wednesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks and replacing him with backup Martin Jones to start the third period of a game the team trailed 4-0: “I didn’t pull Quick because of his performance. Like I said, I don’t like pulling goalies in the first game of the year, or ever, but at that point in the game, it’s not Jonathan’s deal, it’s Jonesy’s deal.”

FYI: Quick gave up four goals on 27 shots.

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Kings questions and answers (part 3, expanded version)

Can veteran winger Marian Gaborik bolster the Kings’ ineffective offense?

The Kings ranked near the bottom of the NHL in scoring last season with only 206 goals, the fewest of the 16 teams that advanced to the playoffs. The Pacific Division champion Ducks scored 266, by way of contrast. Gaborik’s scoring during the postseason was one of the reasons the Kings won the Stanley Cup, however.

Gaborik enabled Kings coach Darryl Sutter to form a strong first line with center Anze Kopitar and winger Dustin Brown. It also allowed Sutter to team Jeff Carter with Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, giving the Kings the sort of scoring punch they lacked. Gaborik and Kopitar seemed like a match made in hockey heaven. They are two skilled European-born and -bred players who see the ice better than most. When they click, it’s like magic on the ice.

The Kings have so much going for them that it’s strange to think they struggle in any one aspect of the game, but their inability to score cost them a better seeded place in the Western Conference standings. They won the Stanley Cup despite having home-ice advantage in only the last of the four playoff rounds. At some point, the stress of travel and the unpredictability of road conditions will prove costly to the Kings. Scoring more goals, moving higher in the standings, could ease their burden in 2014-15.

Gaborik is the man to make that happen.

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Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s not-so-nutty quote of the day

Here’s Kings coach Darryl Sutter on the anticipation of watching the second Stanley Cup championship banner in three seasons being raised to the Staples Centers rafters before the season-opening game Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks:

“Are we looking forward to it? Are we looking forward to seeing our banner being raised? Absolutely. We were looking forward to last night (the presentation of the Stanley Cup championship rings during a dinner downtown), too. ”

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Kings coach Darryl Sutter and the Stanley Cup visit Santa Anita

 


Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t talk to reporters after Saturday’s practice. Now we know why. Actually, we knew he was headed to the race track. We just wanted him to make a few wagers for us. Runyoustupidnag was a favorite in the ninth race.

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