With the NHL playoffs just two weeks away, the Los Angeles Kings suffered a big blow this week as the team announced all-star center Anze Kopitar will have surgery on Wednesday for torn ankle ligaments and will miss the remainder of the season.
Kopitar, the team’s leading scorer, fell to the ice on Saturday after twisting his right ankle as fans watched in agony. The Kings and coach Terry Murray hoped it was nothing serious but an MRI on Monday found a high ankle sprain and torn ligaments that require surgery, leaving him out indefinitely.
This is the second big blow for the Kings in the last week, as the team’s second leading scorer, right wing Justin Williams suffered a dislocated his right shoulder and will miss a minimum of three weeks. This won’t make it any easier for the Kings, who have had troubles scoring lately, so we can’t help but wonder if losing the two who have a combined 47 goals this season will send them into a downward spiral.
"Losing two of your best offensive players on a team that has been struggling to score of late is not going to help us at all," defenseman Jack Johnson told the LA Times. "But there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s out of our control. The season presses on so we have to find a way to score and win without him."
The Kings have been playing well lately, winning their last three contests and hope to continue the trend despite the holes in their lineup. They are currently the fifth seed in the Western Conference and it seems likely they will earn their second straight playoff berth, despite the fact that six of their remaining seven games are against playoff teams.
As if at all possible, the Kings will need to become even more defensive minded and their best strategy might just be to hope that they are able to win plenty of 1-0 or 2-1 games. The team’s goals-against average is currently 2.35, which is ranked seventh in the NHL and is a number they will have to keep if they want to play in May and June.
They were picked by many at the beginning of the season to make to the Western Conference Finals but fans of the franchise have always had the “well there is always next year” attitude. However they should not jump ship just yet.
On thing is for sure, it will not be easy if they want to hoist their first ever Stanley Cup.
Photo Courtesy of: AP Images