Anze Kopitar has spoken.
The winner of last year’s inaugural Eddie Joyal Award had gone silent last Thursday in his first official appearance since summer ended.
After posting eight points in five exhibition games last season (5 goals, 3 assists), he was showing a goose-egg this time around. Worse yet, with the Kings shortened schedule this year – only six preseason games – he wasn’t looking like a strong contender to repeat.
Then Anaheim came to town.
The Kings seemed to appreciate the Ducks showcasing their probable back-up goalie this year, Curtis McElhinney…so much so, that they posted eight goals on him…yes, you read that right. EIGHT!
And that was more than enough to shake up the Eddie Joyal leader board.
Kopitar had four assists tonight to move into a tie with Jack Johnson, who he barely beat out for the award last season (when JJ had 7 points).
Here is the updated leaderboard:
4 pts Jack Johnson (2 goals, 2 assists)
4 pts Anze Kopitar (4 assists)
3 pts Dustin Brown, Michal Handzus and Justin Williams
This sets up an interesting fight to the finish. With roster cuts expected tomorrow, there probably won’t be a lot of extra bodies lying around as the week wears on. Meaning, you can reasonably expect most of the above names to play in both weekend games.
Who wants to win the award? Can Kopi go back-to-back? Will Jack avenge his loss from last year? Or can Zeus do what he’s been doing for the better part of two years…quietly be one of the best players on the team?
With the Kings heading to Sin City on Friday, Coach Terry Murray is probably just hoping ‘What Happens in Los Angeles DOES NOT stay in Los Angeles’…because his offense was clicking tonight.
Preseason or not, the Kings looked good.
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