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Praise for the Best Center in Southern California

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(I know what you're thinking: what about Chris Kaman?  Yeah he's pretty good but he's also a ghoul so screw 'im.)


You know who's pretty awesome?  Anze Kopitar.  We (and by "we" I mean "I") don't really say it a lot but it's true.  Kopitar is indeed awesome.  I sometimes overlook him because I'm focusing on Simmonds' progress or how much I hate Ryan Smyth or whether Frolov got a haircut (I think he did).  I expect Kopitar to be great so when he achieves my expectations it's just kind of like, "Yeah, great, you did your job.   Now get some sleep."  But Kopitar is indeed awesome and here are a few reasons why:

1) He might score 40 goals this season.  Probably the biggest change in Kopitar's offensive game since he first came into the league is that he's shooting a lot more.  When Kopitar was first starting most of his points came on the rush, where he'd get past the defense with a speed move and then hit a trailing man for a scoring opportunity.  Now he's not getting those same opportunities to enter with speed in Terry Murray's system so he's adapted by shooting the puck more.  Here are his shot totals since he first came into the league in 2006:

2006-07 (72 games): 193 (217 over 82)

2007-08 (82 games): 201

2008-09 (82 games): 234

2009-10 (68 games): 216 (253 over 82)

As you can see, Kopitar has a lot more shots this season than he did in the past.  I think the reason for this is threefold: one, he's getting good opportunities from improved linemates this season; two, he's getting more ice time this season; and three, he's been more confident with his shot, especially on the power play.

Kopitar has scored 32 goals in 68 games this season.  Barring injury, he's on pace for 37 goals.  However, since January 1st he's been on a torrid pace, tallying 16 goals in 27 games.  If he can keep up that pace for the rest of the season he should get 40 goals.  That would be awesome.  Of course, he could fall into another slump like the one he had in December (2 goals in 14 games) and then he won't get near 40 goals.  That wouldn't be awesome.

2) He might score the most power play points in the league.  Right now Kopitar's tied with Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos for the league lead in power play points, at 33.  Nicklas Backstrom is one point behind them.  (Note to self: do not take a penalty against Washington.)  Kopitar is tied for 3rd in power play goals.  I don't personally love the Kings' power play because it's kind of static but obviously it was designed by Jamie Kompon to play to Anze Kopitar's strengths and Kopitar has responded beautifully this season.

3) He might get nominated for the Lady Byng.  I know, no one cares about the Lady Byng, but doesn't Kopitar have the type of resume you see from Lady Byng nominees?  He's 13th scoring and he has a lower PIM than all but 3 people ahead of him; one of those 3 is Patrick Kane, though, and it seems like he should be ineligible for the Lady Byng this year since he, you know, punched a cab driver.  I don't care too much but hey, why not Kopitar?  We should make T-shirts that say, "Kopitar for Lady Byng: Eh, Why Not?"  I think we could help him win.

4) He's one of the most used forwards in the league.  Kopitar averages 21:54 minutes a game.  The only forwards who plays more per game is Ilya Kovalchuk

5) I'm don't worry about him against almost anyone.  The list of forwards I think can beat Kopitar on a regular basis:

-Joe Thornton

-Evgeni Malkin

-Ryan Kesler

-Henrik Sedin

That's pretty much it.

So yeah, Anze Kopitar: awesome dude.  Let's all sing his praises in the comments.  Just write, "Hey, remember where he, you know, scored that goal?  That was awesome!"  Stuff like that.  Here, I'll start it off.  Remember when he did this:

That was awesome.