With 50 points in 56 games, Anze Kopitar once again led the Kings in scoring for the 2021 NHL season. However, similar to the past several years, the Kings didn’t make the playoffs and that was once again a hot topic during the exit interviews with various players.
Below are comments shared by LA’s captain and the newest member of the 1,000 point club:
Kopitar on reaching 1000 points this season, and the team’s season as a whole
The milestone was nice and everything, really excited about the first two-thirds of the season. The last little while, individually, it wasn’t where I wanted it to be. As a team, we took steps in the right direction. There’s still work left to be done, and we’re gonna look ahead to that. We’re gonna take the positives, look at the negatives, and see what we need to correct and go from there.
On what areas the team improved in most from last year
Special teams definitely took a step forward. I don’t know where the final penalty kill numbers ended up; I think we’re top 10 in the league, which is pretty satisfying. It says a lot about this group’s willingness to get it done on the defensive side of things. Our powerplay was clicking better than it ever was since I’ve been here, that’s definitely a positive. In saying that, there’s still few areas we need to improve on and get better at.
On how healthy he is coming out of the season
Health is good, didn’t have any major issues, just a couple bruises here and there but that’s pretty much normal. The schedule was pretty condensed, there’s nights where everybody felt it. It is what it is. Went through the season without any major issues.
On how close this team is to being a playoff team
We have to come out and perform to our potential. Everybody in our locker room will probably say that we can be better. You have to raise the level. Just being in the mix for as long as we were was refreshing, but at the end of the day, it’s still disappointing not making the playoffs. We have to look forward to correct that and be in a position to make the playoffs next year.
On what might have gone wrong with the powerplay throughout the season
There’s a variety of things that didn’t go well second half the season or last little while. Maybe we just got too cute with it, not playing a high pace that we needed to play. If you’re not getting good looks at it, you just not gonna score. That hurt us a little bit, definitely hurt us in games. I still think we can be excited overall with the step that we took forward this year compared to last year.
On comparing this rebuild currently with the one early in his career
Being a lot younger, it makes it maybe a little easier. When you’re losing games, nobody’s having fun. It’s not the greatest atmosphere. As I mentioned before, we’re taking steps in the right direction. We’re looking into the future to make sure that this rebuild goes on the path that we need it to go.
On the extent of Dustin Brown’s injury and how he thought it may have affected his play
I’ve had the privilege to play with Brownie for a long time. The amount of times he’s been banged up and you guys have no idea about it, it’s more than I can even remember. He’s an absolute warrior on and off the ice for that matter. He comes in and gets himself ready to play even though he’s kicking it about 60 or even less on percentage. Ultimate pro, he definitely knows what it takes to win and get prepared. Even at times when he’s not nearly at 100%.
On if he wants to see the organization be aggressive with its cap space and high draft pick this offseason
There’s no secret that this summer is going to be very important for us from all standpoints, whether that’s developing younger guys or maybe bringing some guys in. This should be very exciting for everybody, and we’ll see what happens at the end of the day.
On if it was strange to not play with his usual linemates (Dustin Brown, Alex Iafallo) the last few games
It’s a little strange, we’ve been together for the better part of pretty much 50 games. It’s a little bit of an adjustment, but stuff like that happens, just got to go with it.
On any younger players that stood out to him this season
I’m excited to see everybody. JAD definitely took a step forward, Quintin [Byfield] came in and gave us a few really strong games, [Rasmus] Kupari scoring his first goal. I’m excited, for sure. There’s a lot of young talents around here. It’s exciting to see them grow and see them develop and being a part of this team.
On how he saw the team’s confidence change throughout the season
It’s fair to say that we had an up and down season. When it was up, the confidence is good and when you’re down, it’s not good. And then, the last little while, we didn’t win too many games, so you can’t expect for us to be a confident bunch. We have to take this year and learn from it. There was some bright spots and there were some not so bright spots that we have to improve on and get better at and make sure that it doesn’t happen.
On how his connection with Quinton Byfield is going, and how they have been interacting
I don’t think it was anything different than when any other younger player comes up here. You try to make him as comfortable as you can, make him feel that’s he is part of the team. [Byfield] made a really good impression, especially on the ice, that’s where it comes down to really. He’s a very nice young kid, and I’m looking forward to seeing him develop and grow into a player.
Exit interview comments from Drew Doughty were posted here. More from Kopitar can be found at the links below.
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