On March 26, the season took a devestating turn for the Los Angeles Kings as Anze Kopitar went down with an ankle injury. From the countless replays, the only hope was that the injury wasn't as severe as it looked. Unfortunately, it was and #11 would be sidelined for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
As bitter a pill as Kopitar's injury was to swallow, the Kings still had enough to make a playoff push. Sure, Kopitar led his team in scoring with 73 points in 75 games but those stats were a little misleading as the Slovenian was not as consistent as his numbers indicated.
There were games this season when Kopitar would be on fire putting together a series of multiple-point games. However, there were many nights when his name just wouldn't be found on the scoresheet.
Overall, Kopitar didn't really have any faults in his game this season. It wasn't as if he kept turning the puck over like two defensemen who shall remain nameless. Kopitar's impact on the Kings goes beyond words regardless how well he plays. He led his team with a very impressive +25 rating, after all.
In addition, Kopitar led the Kings this season in shots with 233, had a 10.7 shooting percentage and had the best giveaway/takewaway ration on the club with 40/62. Not bad stats at all but coming from someone like Kopitar, it's expected - and met.
Although his absence was a key reason for Los Angeles' early playoff exit, it was not the deciding factor. The Los Angeles Kings have proven that they can play (and play quite well) without the services of Kopitar. Having said that, the Kings are much better when he is in the lineup.
The Kings and their fans held their collective breaths when Kopitar when down in late March and, although he was missed for the rest of the season, it's gratifying to know that the 23-year-old will be back and ready to go once training camp opens in September.
If Kopitar can stay completely healthy next year, who knows how far the Kings can go.