LA Kings (27-28-9) vs. Minnesota Wild (31-27-5)
1 PM PST, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
I was pretty critical of Anze Kopitar during the 1st half of the season. I was critical because, well, he sucked balls. Through 41 games, Kopitar had 31 points and looked listless on the ice. He was not the Kings' best player night in, night out, and all too often he was invisible. When you're 6'4" and look like Kopitar, you have to be pretty shitty to be invisible out on the ice. Since that point, however, Kopitar has looked a lot better. In the 23 games since that point, Kopitar has 25 points and 11 goals. He looked like the best player in the game when the Kings played Detroit and had 3 points 2 days ago in that wild game against Dallas. (Marty Turco is a such a little bitch.) Anze has all the talent in the world when he chooses to use it, but I think he was confused and a little tentative in Terry Murray's defensive scheme. Now he's understanding when he can go for the offensive strike and when he needs to stay back and defend. I have a feeling this is a season we look back on fondly for many reasons, but I think we'll mostly look back on this season as the season Kopitar became a monster. Dammit, I could not be more excited for next season.
Where's Justin Williams going to play? I think the common idea is that he will play with Kopitar, but I kind of like Teddy Purcell up there. Kopitar and Frolov are both 30+ goal scorers and could use someone that can get them the puck in space. I think Justin Williams will play with Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown on the 2nd line. That line gives me a boner. Williams is basically Kyle Calder but good, so they'll be able to pick up their habits together fairly quickly, and all three can kick ass on the offensive and defensive side of the puck. Assuming, of course, that Williams ever comes back.
Jack Johnson was the only defensive player to not take a special teams shift last game. Huh.
Prediction: Kings win, 2-0. Goals by Kopitar (x2).