Anze Kopitar, welcome to life as a target. Kopitar’s recent scoring binge, coupled with the home team’s ability to make the final line change, meant that San Jose did its best to match up Joe Thornton’s line against Kopitar most of the night. Kopitar played an astounding 26 minutes, 30 seconds, and didn’t get on the scoreboard but did create chances and draw significant attention from the Sharks.
Today, I asked Terry Murray about the type of attention Kopitar got in that game, and whether he should expect more of it going forward…
MURRAY: “Absolutely. He’s going to get attention from here on through his career now. That’s a good challenge for a young player like this, to now try to figure it out. It’s not just going to be coaching. It’s not just going to be system and structure that you’re going to go through with your system play. Now, players have to, on their own, find a way to get results with that focus. There’s not a lot of ice available out there against a big hockey club.
“San Jose has got some big bodies. They’re looking to get Thornton out against him every time, and their back-end guys are good-defending big guys, so plays happen faster, things shut down a lot faster and, as you go through that as a hockey player, you know you keep pushing at it, and that’s where you break through to be at the next level. It’s an exciting challenge for him in his career.”