As the expression goes…It all comes down to this!
After two-point performances from Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson in Las Vegas, the race for the 2010 Eddie Joyal Award will be decided tonight.
Unfortunately, it won’t be a fair fight. Coach Murray will be resting Kopitar. So, Jack – currently tied atop the leaderboard with six points – will have the advantage.
Even seeing their two names among the challengers for the award is somewhat surprising. Sure, in a normal situation, either would be a strong bet to be a top point producer on the team. However, with the Kings playing a shortened six game pre-season schedule, this year appeared to be anything but status quo.
For starters, there was the spilt squad series with Phoenix. Meaning, the most games any one player could participate in was down to five. That said, heading into game one Kopitar would have been a strong bet to repeat as the Joyal winner…and Johnson, who barely lost out on the award last year, had to be a heavy favorite as well.
Then came word that neither player would travel to Colorado for the first pre-season game – reducing their possible game total to four.
When Kopitar didn’t register a point in his first pre-season game last Thursday vs. the Coyotes, his chances of going back-to-back weren’t looking good.
Four points later (vs. Anaheim), he entered Frozen Fury tied atop the leaderboard with Johnson.
And Vegas is Kopi’s world. Already the all-time Frozen Fury points leader, he posted a goal and assist last night.
Keeping pace with #11, Jack picked up two assists. At the pre-game skate Saturday morning, he talked a lot about having fun in Vegas. So, perhaps he was on to something too.
Eddie Joyal Award – leaderboard update after five games:
6 points – Jack Johnson (2 goals, 4 assists)
6 points – Anze Kopitar (1g, 5a)
4 points – Ryan Smyth (2g, 2a)
4 points – Dustin Brown (1g, 3a)
It’s going to be a close one.
But, what about Michal Handzus or Jusitn Williams? They’re sitting just outside the leaders, with three points each.
Prior to the first pre-season game, I listed Zeus as the 2-1 favorite this year. Yet, I’ll admit, it’s probably Johnson’s award to lose at this point.
It all comes down to tonight, Kings at the Ponda.
QUOTES FROM PREGAME SKATE SATURDAY MORNING
Click the player’s name to see what they had to say:
Anze Kopitar – Drew Doughty – Richard Clune – Jack Johnson
Introducing the 2nd Annual Eddie Joyal Award
2009 Eddie Joyal Award Winner Announced