Oct 10, 2011, 3:08 PM EDT
You could argue that Anze Kopitar missing the final days of last season and the playoffs is what did in their chances of going deep into the postseason. Kopitar’s ankle injury was an unfortunate break for a team on the brink of breaking out, but as he’s shown already this season, it’s not affecting his play.
Kings coach Terry Murray says that Kopitar is playing great and showing no ill effects from his ankle injury. With three goals and an assist in the Kings’ first two games in Europe, Kopitar is showing that those who thought he would be a dark horse pick for the Art Ross Trophy might have something to crow about.
Helping Kopitar break out are his linemates. While he was expected to have Justin Williams on his right side all along, having Simon Gagne to his left is a surprise and one that’s working out well so far. When Dustin Penner returns from his injury, Murray will have some choices to make with his lines and whether or not he’ll put Penner back with Kopitar or slide him in next to Mike Richards instead. Having those kinds of choices make being a coach a little easier.
If Kopitar can keep this brand of elite level play up he won’t just be in the running for the Art Ross, he could wind up in the Hart Trophy discussion as well.
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