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Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter Having Desired Impact While Darryl Sutter Criticizes Anze Kopitar’s Play

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar has struggled for
much of the season, no doubt. But his game has
slipped even further in recent games.
Photo: David Sheehan

LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — During the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on March 3, newly-acquired sniper Jeff Carter scored his first two goals (and points) as a member of the Kings.

Since his arrival, the Kings have won three out of four games, and have scored four goals in each of those wins.

Carter has displayed speed, and the willingness to shoot first, and ask questions later, something the Kings have desperately needed.

“He gives you a different look, in terms of speed, and the skill set he brings,” said head coach Darryl Sutter.

“Bringing Jeff in definitely opens things up,” said right wing and team captain Dustin Brown. “He finally got a couple last night, but he had numerous chances before that. It opens a lot of space up for other guys when you have multiple threats. When you have just one or two [threats], it’s easy to key on them. But if you have three, four or five guys playing well, and capable of scoring, it’s a lot harder to shut [them] down.”

“It helps our confidence, offensively, when you throw line after line out there that can score goals,” added Brown. “He scored some big ones for us tonight. It makes it doubly hard for the opposing team. They can’t just key on [center Anze] Kopitar’s line.”

Indeed, Brown noted that, as they have in past seasons, opposing teams have focused on shutting down Kopitar’s line. But Carter’s presence is now forcing teams to choose which line they must focus on.

“For awhile, [opposing teams] were keying on Kopitar, trying to shut [him] down,” Brown explained. “Now that we have Carter here, him and [center Mike Richards] have some chemistry. [Opposing teams] have to pick and choose who they want their top defensive pair to play against.”

Despite scoring a goal in each of his last two games—the first was a gimme into a gaping net, the result of lazy defensive coverage by the Minnesota Wild on February 28, and the second was an empty-net goal to seal the victory against the Ducks on Saturday—Kopitar has not responded well, despite having that extra room to maneuver.

In fact, Kopitar may have put in his worst performance of the season against the Ducks, a lackluster effort that resulted in his line being benched during the final six minutes of the second period.

“We played the guys who were mentally tough, because they all weren’t, and they’re still learning that,” Sutter stressed. “There were guys who didn’t play during stretches there, pretty significant players who didn’t get to play much during certain points of the game last night.”

“You try to get a read, as a coach, who is [mentally tough] and who isn’t,” Sutter added.

Although Sutter referred to the entire line of Kopitar, Brown and Justin Williams, the implication seemed obvious, that his criticism was aimed at Kopitar. After all, Brown, who opened the scoring in this game, played a solid game against the Ducks, not to mention the fact that he has scored six goals with four assists for ten points in the last six games. Williams was not noticeable, which is not a good thing for a forward, but Kopitar was noticeable for all the wrong reasons…turnovers, poor decisions with and without the puck, and rarely going to the middle of the ice or the front of the net.

When asked if having Carter in the lineup is taking some pressure off of Kopitar and his line, Sutter made his disappointment even more clear.

“I hope it puts some pressure on them,” said Sutter. “That should put some pressure on them.”

As their top center and, arguably, their best player, Kopitar, whose problems were reported in this space on February 18, needs to step up his game, and soon, if the Kings are to have any hope of making the playoffs this season.

Raw Audio Interviews: Anaheim Ducks vs Los Angeles Kings, March 3, 2012

(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed)

Dustin Brown (3:16)

Jeff Carter (1:50)

Darryl Sutter (3:28)

Raw Audio Interviews: Los Angeles Kings Practice, March 4, 2012

(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed)

Dustin Brown (7:41)

Darryl Sutter (8:07)


Tickets for the Kings’ upcoming home games against the Detroit Red Wings (March 13, 7:30 PM – Red Wings vs. Kings), the Nashville Predators (March 17, 7:30 PM – Predators vs. Kings), as well as for other games on their schedule, are available from Barry’s Tickets, an official partner of the Los Angeles Kings. Use the code, “Royalty010” to get a 10 percent discount on their “Best Value” tickets.


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2 Responses to Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter Having Desired Impact While Darryl Sutter Criticizes Anze Kopitar’s Play

  1. Pingback: It’s Time For LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi To Address His Team’s Futility « Frozen Royalty

  2. Pingback: Los Angeles Kings Have Good Reasons To Be Optimistic Heading Into Tough, Crucial Road Trip « Frozen Royalty

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