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Kopitar on Dionne criticism: “Some guys like you, some guys don’t like you”

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Last week, former L.A. Kings great Marcel Dionne had some harsh words for Anze Kopitar.

“Kopitar’s is at the point in his career where he has to decide what he wants to do,” Dionne said, before unfavorably comparing L.A.’s leading scorer to Mats Sundin. “He needs a wake-up call.”

This week, Kopitar responded.

“Could it be better? Absolutely,” Kopitar told Mayors Manor when asked to analyze his play. “I do feel I can put a little more into my game. It hasn’t been [recently] where it’s been at times [in the past].

“I know I can dominate games and lead the team by example, definitely. It’s just a matter of doing it every night. That’s a challenge for me.”

At first glance, Kopitar’s season hasn’t been horrible. He’s posted 55 points in 65 games which, given L.A.’s anemic offense, is a pretty decent total (he’s on pace for 69 points this season.)

But with a whopping $6.8 million cap hit — Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews and the Sedins all cost less — Kopitar knows much more is expected of him.

“I want to win in this league and that’s what I want to be known for, is making key plays at key times and big plays and scoring big goals,” he explained. “If it’s the 25th or the 35th [goal], it doesn’t really matter. As long as we play up to our potential and are winning games, that’s going to make me a better player and be known around the league for that.”

Overall, Kopitar seemed unfazed by Dionne’s criticisms.

(Note: Dionne actually works for L.A. as a Royal Ambassador, “a new and important outreach initiative of the Kings business operations division that includes the Kings’ Fan Development and Community Relations departments.” Because nothing says ambassador like carving the team’s leading scorer!)

“It’s not that I don’t care, but I try not to let it affect me,” Kopitar said. “There’s a lot of guys around the league. Some guys like you, some guys don’t like you.

“I think if every player, not just me, read all of the things written and cared or got frustrated with all the comments, I don’t think it would be very good psychologically for anybody.”

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From the NHL:

Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.

Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.

Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.

Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse

Malkin to miss third straight game with lower-body injury

Evgeni Malkin
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Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.

The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.

Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.

McDonagh out with concussion after Saturday’s altercation with Simmonds

Ryan McDonagh
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The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.

McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.

Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.

Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

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Lucic’s plan is to ‘remain a King’ for remainder of career

Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis
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Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”

A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.

“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.

Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.

Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA