The news that the Kings could use only 19 players tonight apparently didn’t concern Anze Kopitar.
“I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play and we’ll see how I feel,” he said in regards to the upper-body injury he suffered in the second period of Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Given that the team is readying itself for game number nine out of 82, would it be safe to assume that the long-term needs trump any immediate personnel concerns?
“Yeah, probably, but I felt pretty good on the ice today,” Kopitar said. “So we’ll see about tonight.”
Though Darryl Sutter threw out the hypothetical “What if he does go tonight?” when asked about Kopitar this morning, he’s unlikely to play against the Flyers. During line rushes at this morning’s skate, he skated as an extra alongside Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis, an indication that he’s going to be held out of the game. But if there’s good news in the Kings’ current roster squeeze, it’s that Kopitar’s injury isn’t expected to be severe. The team didn’t practice before or after yesterday’s cross-country flight, which allowed the center an extra day of rest.
“We had a nice plane coming here. I actually laid down and it was nice,” Kopitar said.
Kopitar has been remarkably durable in his career. Since suffering a broken ankle that ended his season 75 games into his 2010-11 campaign, the only regular season or playoff game he did not participate in over the last three seasons was the 2012-13 season opener, which was missed because of a knee sprain suffered late in his tenure in Sweden during the lockout. During the 2011-12 season, he missed no time after leaving a game after receiving a particularly violent (and legal) third period hit from Brendan Morrow, who was playing with the Dallas Stars at the time.
It’s an anecdotal recollection, one that sticks out due to the center’s tendency to avoid injury (and being on the receiving end of large hits). Kopitar didn’t appear to weather any large hits in Sunday’s game.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate in the past, where I didn’t have I guess too much of stuff going on,” Kopitar said. “Obviously breaking my ankle, it’s kind of tough to play through that. But other than that, I guess I was pretty fortunate and body has been holding up pretty well and hopefully it’s going to be like that the rest of the way.”