Kopitar, centers face another challenge - LA Kings Insider

As it was in the second round against St. Louis, the battle of the centers figures to be an important one for the Kings in the Western Conference Finals against Phoenix. The Kings will line up Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll against Phoenix’s Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette and Boyd Gordon. So far in this postseason, Hanzal has three goals in eight games, and Vermette has five goals in 11 games. (The Coyotes, it should be noted, have been a strong faceoff team as well.) Richards has been known, for a few years, as a solid two-way center, and Kopitar’s reputation in that area is growing as well.

SUTTER: “I think, from a statistics standpoint, he’s been really good, not just for the playoffs but probably for the last three months. He’s been a point-per-game guy, and that’s sort of what you want. … I think he is a complete player. I said that when they were talking about the Selke (Trophy) and the Lady Byng and all that. How could Kopitar not be in that? He’s a big part of the penalty-killing minutes on a good team. He takes big faceoffs, plays against top players, plays against checkers, plays a lot of minutes. So, I don’t think it’s something that has just, all of a sudden, come about. That’s part of his game.”

Kopitar’s development as a two-way player was a major point of emphasis for former coach Terry Murray. In terms of plus-minus rating, in Kopitar’s first three NHL seasons he was minus-12, minus-15 and minus-17, respectively. In his last three seasons, he has been plus-6, plus-25 and plus-12. Of course, that stat hold questionable meaning, and certainly the Kings, as a whole, have been better in the last three years, but it’s clear that Kopitar has improved as an all-around player, and that he takes some pride in that.

KOPITAR: “You want to be on the ice in every situation. Sometimes, if you’re not on penalty kill, it’s tough to stay in the game if we take a couple penalties in a row. For me, it’s just nice to stay in the flow and keep my body warm and try to help kill penalties, and obviously power play and stuff like that. It just gets you more involved.”

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Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left


Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.