Los Angeles vs. San Jose: Anze Kopitar’s Emergence Makes Kings a Force

The Los Angeles Kings have all the elements to win their second straight Stanley Cup.

They have the strength up front with players like Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Dustin Brown.

They have a powerful and swift defense that makes few mistakes. In the rare cases players like Slava Voynov, Drew Doughty or Jake Muzzin make a mistake, the Kings have Jonathan Quick in goal to clean up for them.

All he did last year was win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

But the one thing that the Kings had to be concerned about was Anze Kopitar. He is the team's best all-around player. When it comes to offense, he can dominate with his instincts and explosiveness.

But Kopitar has struggled for the Kings this year. His regular-season numbers were decent—10 goals and 32 assists in 47 games—but he's capable of much more.

Kopitar slumped to end the regular season, going scoreless in his final 16 games, and that dry spell carried into the playoffs. Going into Game 5 of the Kings' series with the San Jose Sharks, he had one goal and four assists in 10 playoff games. In last year's playoff run, Kopitar had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games.

But Kopitar came through for the Kings as the series returned to Staples Center. The Kings were dominating in the offensive zone, but they couldn't dent Niemi until the late stages of the second period.

With traffic in front, Kyle Clifford's shot was deflected to an open Kopitar to Niemi's side. Kopitar calmly backhanded the loose puck into the back of the net.

The Kings took the momentum from that goal and ran with it. Voynov added to the lead early in the third period and the Sharks were not able to get one past Quick. An empty-net goal by Jeff Carter made the final score 3-0 and gave the Kings a 3-2 lead in the series.

But the best news was clearly Kopitar's ability to score the goal that proved to be the game-winner. Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Kings