NASHVILLE – This week I caught up with Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar to get his thoughts on Jonathan Quick, the playoff races and the team’s offensive struggles. RLD: Can you even put into words how valuable Jonathan Quick has been this year? Anze Kopitar: He’s been great for us. If you consider all the offensive struggles we’ve had and not scoring goals, he’s kept us in every single game all season. There’s not a whole lot more you could ask from him. He’s given us a chance and that’s all you want.
It’s really amazing how he can stay consistent throughout the whole year. It’s really nice to see because he’s a great goaltender and an all-star. Hopefully he’ll keep giving us that chance for the rest of the year.
The team has scored some more goals in the last couple games; do you feel you’re starting to turn the corner a bit offensively?
I think so. We’ve been getting more and more shots and chances. If you get that, sooner or later the goals are going to come, too. It seems like the last couple games we’ve clicked a few more times than we did before, but now we have to keep it going.
Has the lack of scoring been frustrating?
It’s always frustrating for every team that doesn’t score or for every guy that doesn’t score like they should. What happened is in the past and we have to look ahead to these final games and give it a good push and shoot for the playoffs.
How will Jeff Carter help the offense?
His experience and presence are going to be a help. He’s been in the league for a long time now and he has scored some big goals. Last game against Anaheim he had two for us, and that turned out to be the difference in getting us two huge points.
Did this team change at all when Darryl Sutter took over as coach?
We got a little more aggressive than we were before, therefore we’re getting more chances. The system didn’t change a whole lot when he got here. He just wanted us to be a little more aggressive in pursuing the puck. If you do that properly you have more chances to make plays with the puck.
Who is the best defenseman in the NHL at the moment?
[Pause] I don’t think you can go wrong with Shea Weber or Ryan Suter. They are always solid. Nicklas Lidstrom is up there. I’d pick one of those three. They can play both ends of the ice. Sometimes when you look at other defensemen, their offensive or defensive game is not as good. Those three can do it all everywhere and you always have to be aware when they’re on the ice.
What is the toughest arena to play in?
I’d say Calgary. It’s a really good atmosphere every time. It’s packed and it’s loud. For some reason we haven’t had a whole lot of success up there over the years.
Lastly, do you feel you guys are essentially in the playoffs right now?
Absolutely. The playoffs have started early for us. Every game is a big game and we need the two points every night. We’re in a pretty good spot despite being on the bubble. Now it’s up to us and how we respond in this final push. We’ll see at the end of the season where we end up.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.