Kings’ Anze Kopitar not fazed after taking puck to the face
NHL playoff notebook: ‘There goes the modelling career,’ quips coach Daryl Sutter
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — It’s nice, neat work those Los Angeles Kings’ medics did on Anze Kopitar’s face after he took a puck from teammate Dustin Brown in the face early in the third period of Thursday’s playoff game.
And yet ...
“There goes the modelling career and the best-looking Slovenian athlete (distinction),” said coach Darryl Sutter, of his first-line centre’s new look.
Kopitar’s cut above the upper lip took 20 stitches to close, and when he returned to the ice, with his team trailing in the game, the sound system played the theme from Rocky and the crowd roared.
Asked if he got a little chuckle out of it, or even heard it, Kopitar said: “No, the guys told me about it afterward, but I don’t think it was really a chuckling moment at that time.”
He said he didn’t lose any teeth.
“Nope, got lucky. I did have my mouthguard in, and I’m not quite sure but it might have hit the visor a little bit, too,” he said, shrugging off questions that seemed amazed he would return. “They numbed me up pretty good right after for stitches, so I didn’t really feel anything (during the game) but after it wore off, it was a little sore.”
Sutter was outwardly unimpressed.
“Hockey players ... what difference does it make if it’s Anze Kopitar? Hockey players are different from other athletes. They get hit in the face, they go in and get sewn up and they come back. Very seldom in 30-some years have I seen a player that doesn’t do that. Spit your teeth in your hands and give ‘em to your coach.”
HAVE THIS, HAVLAT — San Jose coach Todd McLellan said he is hoping injured forward Martin Havlat knocks on his door one of these days to tell him he’s ready to return from the ever-popular undisclosed injury.
Havlat has been missing since Game 1 of the Vancouver series, though his injury, whatever it is, apparently wasn’t related to the lift-and-separate action Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa applied to his stick in Havlat’s nether regions that night.
The Czech winger skated with the team Friday, and said, “I’m getting better, we’ll see how it goes tomorrow morning.”
BIG ON BIG — Sutter said he didn’t mind the Kopitar-Joe Thornton matchup and won’t be concerned if that’s what the Sharks try for in Game 3.
“Well, they’re two big guys and ultimately their teams’ top centremen, so I don’t have a problem playing him against Joe. But who’s playing with those two guys and how they play impacts that matchup more than anything else.”
When Thornton cranks up his intensity, he’s still a load to handle. Especially, said Sutter, when he’s winning 78 per cent of his faceoffs, as he did in Game 2, going 14-4 in the circle.
In fact, the Sharks’ five primary draw takers — Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Scott Gomez — went 43-18 on faceoffs. No wonder the Sharks seemed to have the puck all night.
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