Anze Kopitar’s Injury and What It Means for the L.A. Kings Playoff Hopes

Heading into today's game against the Colorado Avalanche the L.A. Kings had points in eight of their last 10, and found themselves in a tie for fifth in the Western Conference with the Nashville Predators. The Avs had points in just two of their last 10, finding themselves next to last in the West. It certainly didn't appear that there was anything Colorado could do in this contest that would have any impact on the Kings playoff situation. 

Until the 4:21 of the second period. 

While battling along the boards for a loose puck, Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar became tangled up with Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne and fell backward awkwardly on his right leg. The Kings center is scheduled for an MRI Monday, but head coach Terry Murray has already confirmed that Kopitar will be "out for at minimum of six weeks."

This loss is potentially devastating for Los Angeles. The Kings are not known for their dominating offense. They are in the bottom half of the NHL in goals scored with only 203. Kopitar has notched 25 of them, tied with Dustin Brown for most on the team. 

But what the Kings likely will miss most is Kopitar's ability to set up his teammates. He has recorded 47 assists, which is good for eighth in the NHL and the most on his team by a wide margin. Left winger Ryan Smyth believes everyone on the team is going to have to step up in order to try to replace Kopitar's production:

"Kopi[tar] plays a lot of minutes and in a lot of situations. So everybody has to collectively come together and regroup, and everybody has got to fill a role. But our defense is probably the staple of our game, and has been since Terry got here."

Indeed, the defense will definitely be the key to the Kings staying competitive. L.A. is third in the Western Conference in goals allowed with 181 thanks to its deep, young stable of great defenders and goaltenders.

Twenty-five-year-old Jonathan Qu...

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