While the Kings were able to take out Colorado with a 4-1 win, it was perhaps the least happy win in Los Angeles all season long as the Kings have lost team leading scorer for some time.
Anze Kopitar went into the corner to battle Ryan O’Byrne and caught a rut going into the corner forcing Kopitar down to the ice. Kopitar’s leg rolled up underneath him as he went down and down he stayed. Kopitar was helped off the ice and the Kings stated that he was out of the game with a lower body injury.
As it turns out, the outcome is a broken ankle for Kopitar. He’ll be out a minimum of six weeks which means the Kings have to make a deep run in the playoffs for him to see the ice again this season. With just two weeks left in the season and the playoffs taking as long as they do, the soonest you can hope for Kopitar to return would seem like the Western Conference final.
For now, the Kings will need guys like Dustin Brown and Ryan Smyth to step up and produce more offense while Jarrett Stoll will likely ascend to the role of the team’s top center. You wonder if the team is wondering why they sent Brayden Schenn back to junior hockey right about now. The Kings are now dealing with two tough offensive blows late in the year as Justin Williams is also out for a few weeks with a dislocated shoulder. Kings coach Terry Murray says this is as big a time as any for the team to step up big.
“He’s your top player, your top forward. There’s quite a hole that’s going to be there now, with him out of the lineup for this length of time. But I’ve been through these kinds of things before, with top guys being out because of injuries. It’s an opportunity. Other guys step up. The character of the team needs to step up. Everybody needs to do the right things and, just talking about the way we finished up the game in the third period, that’s critical now. You’ve got to trust your structure and your system and give it the best opportunity you can, as a group now, to finish games off and play the right way.”
Defense is all well and good in the playoffs, but you need the goals too and no one’s been better in L.A. at generating them than Kopitar. Their playoff and Stanley Cup hopes will depend upon how well the rest of the team can rally around each other for the next six weeks while Kopitar is gone.
Video of the injury:
Another day, another University of North Dakota player deciding to enter the professional hockey ranks.
This time, it was 21-year-old forward Luke Johnson who turned pro following his junior year, as he signed a three-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
In 43 games with the NCAA champions this season, Johnson scored 11 goals and 21 points, three off his college career high set the previous year.
Johnson will forgo his senior year at North Dakota, bumping the number of players from that program’s junior class to turn up to four since the end of the season. Keaton Thompson signed with the Anaheim Ducks, Troy Stecher inked with the Vancouver Canucks and Paul LaDue signed with the L.A. Kings.
Senior forward Drake Caggiula, now a free agent, has reportedly narrowed down his list of NHL suitors to six teams.
Brock Boeser, a 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Perhaps it’s an ominous sign of bad luck to come, but for which team?
Prior to puck drop between the host San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators in Game 1 on Friday, a black cat hit the ice at SAP Center, taking a nervous stroll along the boards.
Not sure exactly where it came from, although it’s possible someone was feeling extra superstitious before the start of this series.
Official update on the really important story of the evening:
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.
Elliott was furious after the Stars opened the scoring in the second period, as Antoine Roussel tallied on a rebound after yet another nice Dallas passing play in the offensive zone.
Stars forward Patrick Eaves left the game early in the third period and didn’t play another shift after being hit in the lower part of his leg with the puck from a point shot.
The Dallas Stars grabbed the all-important first goal in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Friday. And it was agitating forward Antoine Roussel who capitalized in the second period.
Roussel buried a rebound at the end of a pretty passing play from the Stars. Blues goalie Brian Elliott was furious, as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester slid into the crease in an attempt to block the shot.