The problem was solved. The missing winger to play alongside LA Kings captain Anze Kopitar had been found. With Kevin Fiala in the fold, Kopitar was expected to return to his prime form. Yet, we haven’t seen that take place.
The Kings have played 21 games this season. Kopitar, the team’s number-one center, has three goals and 11 assists, averaging 20:14 minutes a game. His current rate of 0.42 Goals/60 and 1.98 Points/60 in all situations would be career lows for the future hall-of-fame center, according to hockey-reference.com. So what gives?
I’m starting to wonder if all this talk about adding a star winger to Kopitar’s line has got to him. Anze has always been considered a “pass first” player. Even when his linemates were less talented than some other first-liners around the league, he’d look to get his teammates on the board over himself. And that has only become more apparent this season. He’s just not shooting the puck.
Anze’s 9.32 shots attempts per 60 minutes would be the lowest of his career, according to evolving-hockey.com. And it’s not like he isn’t getting his chances, either. His individual high-danger chances are coming at a rate of 2.82 per 60 minutes, according to Naturalstattrick.com. Right around his career average.
Maybe you’re asking if this is a team issue. Perhaps the team isn’t generating enough shot attempts as a whole. But that’s not the case. The LA Kings are registering 60.51 shot attempts per 60 minutes in all situations, according to evolving-hockey.com. Good enough to be the team’s fourth-best rate dating back to the 2007-08 season.
They’ll need more production from their franchise center for the Kings to be successful this season and find themselves back in the playoffs. It’s great to have some quality wingers playing alongside Kopitar finally, but he can’t let that change his game. He needs to maintain a more aggressive mentality when he has the puck in the offensive zone.
So, wherever you are watching the LA Kings, whether at Crypto.com Arena, another NHL barn or even in the comfort of your own home if you see Anze with the puck in a prime shooting opportunity, you know exactly what to yell. SHOOT!
Main photo credit: NHL.com