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:
If you’re looking at that headline regarding the Carolina Hurricanes nabbing Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in a state of awe, don’t feel too bad.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that even Darling’s representatives didn’t see it coming.
But it did indeed happen, as the Hurricanes sent a third-round pick in 2017 to Chicago for Darling.
Darling is scheduled to be a UFA this summer, so the Hurricanes must believe that they can sign a goalie Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman described as “always reliable.”
The Hurricanes could have chosen to keep Darling in their organization, but apparently he didn’t make a huge first impression during this opportunity:
“Reliable” might honestly be selling Darling, 28, a little short. In 75 regular season games, he generated a fantastic .923 save percentage and even excelled when called upon in the playoffs.
With the Hurricanes’ mess in net in mind, you have to credit GM Ron Francis & Co. for being proactive … assuming they can sign Darling to a reasonable deal.
P.K. Subban certainly made his presence felt to begin the Predators’ series vs. the Blues. Leon Draisaitl stole the spotlight in helping the Oilers beat the Ducks in their Game 1. Who will step up in Game 2 of each series? We’ll find out soon.
Here’s what you need to know:
Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (Preds lead 1-0)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Check out the highlights from Nashville’s 4-3 win in Game 1.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks (Oilers lead 1-0)
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Check out the highlights from Edmonton’s 5-3 win in Game 1.
Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.
Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.
It’s easy to see why.
He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.
“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.
On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.
Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.
From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.
In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.
And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.
During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.
Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.
“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”