Columbus Blue Jackets
@ Los Angeles Kings
Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012, 7:30 PM PST
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Ugh, you people again? Son of a bitch. Here, read these from over the break and stop bugging me:
This article on CBSSports was a pretty good overview of how different NHL stars are used by their coaches. The important part:
3) Where would the Kings and Devils be without Kopitar and Patrik Elias this season? Not only are they the top point producers for two teams that have little offense after them, but they have also been doing it under less-than-ideal circumstances for offense, while both spend significant time every night killing penalties for two of the top penalty killing teams in the league. Kopitar, for example, logs 2:28 of shorthanded ice time per game for the Kings, while Elias checks in at just under two minutes per game. Of the 25 players on the scatterplot above, only nine of them play more than one minute of shorthanded ice-time per game. Twelve of them play less than 10 seconds per game.
The article has a few flaws (you shouldn't really compare QualComp across teams) but it gives you an idea of the pressure that is on Anze Kopitar night in, night out. A lot of guys either have to dig themselves out of a hole by starting in the defensive zone or they have to play tough competition, but Kopitar is one of the few guys who has to do both. (As an aside, both Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf play the same role as Kopitar. California centers own.)
It's funny, when the Kings traded for Mike Richards everyone said, "Oh good, now some pressure will be taken off Kopitar," but... nope? And seriously, why should the Kings take pressure off Kopitar? Kopitar is awesome, he should be playing in the toughest situations. Doughty should (and is) too. Your best players need to be your best players.
I'm still way madder than I should be about that whole Top 100 thing John Buccigross did, especially what he wrote about Kopitar:
He entered the NHL as a 19-year-old and is pretty much the same player. A very good player but not in the "elite." Of course, he doesn't have much skill around him in L.A. Put Parise on his line or find him an identical twin and see what happens.
I know Bucci is more just a guy who loves hockey and not an expert but everything about this is wrong. Seriously, who the fuck thinks Kopitar is the same player he was when he entered the league? I'm going to murder an otter.
However, I do enjoy that he says Kopitar is not elite* and then ranks him 15th out of like 600 NHL hockey players. Sorry, everybody behind Kopitar, I guess you're not elite either. Hear that, Hossa & Lundqvist? Tough break, guys.
Also, I just wanted to point out that Kopitar is only 4 months older than Claude Giroux. Seriously. Isn't that weird?
*Someone making a pedantic difference between "very good" and "elite" is code for, "I am stupid and don't really have a real opinion, so instead I'm going to make some vague point and hope you don't notice."
Finally, here's a much better article because it reinforces my biased viewpoint. From Hockey Prospectus:
With a roster including Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty, Justin Williams and Dustin Brown, it's highly unlikely the Kings will continue to shoot blanks. The league-wide average shooting percentage at even strength is about 8 percent, and most clubs will regress towards that over time. Assuming the Kings score on 8 percent of their shots over the latter half of the year, we can expect LA to score 80 goals rather than the 57 they managed through the first 41 games -- a 23-goal increase, or nearly four wins.
Hooray! Do you think they'll go down Figueroa first when they have the Cup Parade, or finish there? Probably finish there. I better go reserve my seat!
Prediction: The Kings are coming off an 8-day layoff and they're playing a fired up Blue Jackets team that just got embarrassed last night. I'm optimistic!
Also, I'm going to have a close eye on Vinny Prospal tonight. You know, just in case.