As part of a three-goal, 14-point January in which he played 12 of the team’s 13 games, Anze Kopitar made strides towards reasserting himself offensively. After the team’s optional morning skate on Wednesday, Darryl Sutter spoke about his center’s recent play, and what he saw behind the raised offensive output.
It’s similar to many of Darryl’s recent Kopitar observances. His assists are there. His checking and defensive play is still there. He needs to get to the center of the ice, and he needs to shoot more.
For the actual numbers, Kopitar’s all-situational assists-per-game rate in 2016-17 (.55) is very close to his career assists-per-game rate (.58). Via stats.hockeyanalysis.com, Kopitar’s assist and first assist rates at even strength are slightly depressed from but not greatly deviant from his overall rates, as are his power play shooting rates. In five-on-four play, Kopitar has one power play goal on 18 shots. His overall shooting percentage is 6.7%, which is only 55% of his career rate of 12.2%, while his 5×5 shots/60 rate of 5.43 is the second-lowest of his career, surpassing only last season’s 5.36. His possession rates and secondary metrics remain outstanding.
Darryl Sutter, on Anze Kopitar’s 14-point January:
I think other than [when] he missed one game when he was sick and then he played the next game and probably wasn’t up to par in terms of energy and all that stuff, other than that, you don’t want him to miss games, and that was a little bit related to that afternoon deal. He didn’t have much time to recover and play and had a tough night, but other than that, he’s had excellent games.
Sutter, on whether the points were a reflection of Kopitar’s overall play:
He’s on his career assists pace, if you do it – games played and assists. So it’s goals. So, again, it’s shots. If you look at him trying to get into the middle of the ice and take more quality shots. If he does that, he’s going to score. He’s hit a lot of posts, things like that. He could easily be in double-figures in goals, and then nobody would be even talking about Kopi. They’d still be saying he was one of the best checking cenermen in the league and all those things.
Sutter, on Kopitar hitting a lot of posts:
A lot. He’s hit two posts on one shot. You don’t get a shot for it. Like, twice he’s done that this year. That’s a little bit of karma. You hit three posts, don’t get a shot.