One of the strangest thing about this post-season is how the Kings' top line, ordinarily dominant against top competition, suddenly wasn't getting the same results.
We've known all year that Anze Kopitar has been skating in a knee brace after incurring an injury in Sweden. He often did not look like himself through three rounds, and it seemed like injury was the likely cause. Now the final press conference of the postseason raises more questions.
Some quotes from Lombardi and Kopitar himself:
DL asked directly about whether Kopitar was injured. Said he was banged up but talked more about opponents focusing on AK.— Rich Hammond (@Rich_Hammond) June 9, 2013
Kopitar said he had "no significant injuries" during playoffs. Just bumps and bruises.— Rich Hammond (@Rich_Hammond) June 9, 2013
Kopitar also said he felt fine in the regular season. I doubted that was true, just based on what I saw -- he didn't look as strong on the puck. I wasn't alone. But he got by in the regular season.
Let's review some odd numbers and facts from the playoffs:
- In 2013, Kopitar attempted fewer shots, and was shooting from farther out.
- Kopitar ordinarily wins the hard matchups against Thornton and Backes, going back a few seasons. He didn't this postseason.
- Even in prior scoring slumps, his underlying possession numbers had been good. The top line was arguably the best at puck possession in the regular season. The results in shots and scoring chances weren't the same at all in this playoffs.
- He did have to take on more defensive zone draws (42.9% zone start), which usually leads to being on the ice for more shot attempts against. But his own shot attempts were still strangely low.
- Strangely, Darryl Sutter didn't call Kopitar out. (This is like the coach who didn't bark in the night-time.)
If Kopitar really was "just fine" and isn't downplaying it, then he is going to have to find some way to get back to his normal level of shots and shot attempts if the Kings hope to contend again. That has been one of his strengths in his career.
It should help if the Kings can give him something more like his usual 50% ratio of offensive to defensive zone draws, and to have Williams and Brown healthy. But it's still strange.
But now, I'd like to hear from you. What do you think? Are you worried about Kopitar next season, or do you think he can get back to form?
Did Kopitar look healthy to you?