Anze Kopitar scored 25 goals last season. And to boot, he was awarded the Selke Trophy.
Though the Kings’ captain is still playing good defense, with just three goals in 30 games, he’s on pace for the worst goal-scoring campaign of his NHL career. He’s getting shots, but for whatever reason, they’re not going in like they’ve done in the past. (See: Patrice Bergeron.)
Kopitar’s scoring struggles came into full focus last night in Vancouver, where the Kings lost, 2-1, and Kopitar was robbed by Ryan Miller on a brilliant chance.
The Kings were again missing Tyler Toffoli (injured reserve), and combined with Kopitar’s slump, it was perhaps no huge surprise they couldn’t battle back from a 2-0 deficit, even though they outshot the Canucks, 37-20.
“I just think that we don’t have a lot of scoring in our lineup, especially with Tyler out, and if you get down one, you’re fine, but if you get down two, you’re playing a different game then,” said head coach Darryl Sutter, per LA Kings Insider.
L.A.’s leading goal-scorer is Jeff Carter, who has an impressive 19. Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are next, each with eight. Kopitar, as mentioned, has just three; Dustin Brown a mere four; and Marian Gaborik just one in 13 games.
Add it up and the Kings have the NHL’s 22nd-ranked offense, and their 17-14-4 record is barely good enough for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“We’re getting into a stretch where every game is critical,” Kopitar told the L.A. Times prior to last night’s game. “Not that it wasn’t before, but now it magnifies a little bit because of how tight it is in our division. Now we have four games in a row within our division, so it’s a big stretch for us.”
They already lost the first of those “critical” four. They’re in Edmonton tonight to take on the Oilers, then it’s two games with the Sharks, the first at home Saturday, the second on the road Tuesday.