Hockey fans should be very excited at the moment as the Los Angeles Kings are set to start their 2017-18 National Hockey League regular season on Thursday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers (tickets) at the STAPLES Center. In the fourth of five Kings player previews, it is time to profile Kings captain Anze Kopitar.
Recognized for his strong and consistent play in both ends of the ice, Kopitar is highly praised as one of the NHL's best defensive forwards. However even though Kopitar was a -10 in 2016-17, he still got respect from the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, finishing 15th in Selke Trophy voting.
Last season, Kopitar was second in Kings scoring with 52 points. He had 12 goals and 40 assists with 28 penalty minutes. Kopitar also had 19 power play points, one shorthanded assist, 150 shots on goal, 59 blocked shots, 78 hits and 892 faceoff wins.
In 2015-16, Kopitar became just the third player in National Hockey League history to win the Lady Byng Trophy (presented to the NHL's most gentlemanly player) and the Selke Trophy (presented to the NHL's best defensive forward) in the same season. Kopitar joined a list that includes Ron Francis and Pavel Datsyuk. Francis accomplished the feat while with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995 and Datsyuk did it in back-to-back seasons with the Detroit Red Wings in 2007-08 and again in 2008-09.
This will be Kopitar's 12th National Hockey League season. They have all been with the Kings since the team selected him with their first round pick, 11th overall, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. In 840 career games, Kopitar has 255 goals and 481 assists for 736 points. A three-time all-star, Kopitar's best offensive seasons with the Kings came in 2012 and 2014, not coincidentally the two years the Kings won the Stanley Cup. In the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Kopitar led all players with eight goals, 12 assists, 20 points, a +16 and two shorthanded goals. In the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, he led all players with 21 assists and 26 points.
Click here for Kings tickets and your opportunity to see Kopitar in person during the 2017-18 season.