Tomas Kopecky was acquired during the offseason to help lead the team with his playoff experience and past Stanley Cup finals games under his belt. Kopecky is a player that plays with his sleeves rolled up and with a drive that only seems to be put into one gear, and that gear is determination. Repeatedly we have seen Kopecky show his emotions on the ice whether it’s slamming the boards due to a missed call by the officials, or getting in people’s faces when they scrum with him or one of his teammates. Although he is a great leader and motivator, he has to find his scoring touch down the stretch somehow in order to be more effective.
During the first couple of months, Kopecky was a reliable scoring threat. Over the first two months, where the Panthers seemed to have shot out of a rocket by playing so well, Kopecky had 11 points in 23 games, which most of us hoped he’d be; a guy that will a average about 40-45 points. So the first couple of months were outstanding for Kopecky in my opinion. He was averaging about 17:10 ice time a game and really was a catalyst to the 2nd and 3rd lines. Then came December. December was a month where players were getting hurt and players had to step up. Kopecky this time was averaging 18:46 ice time this month, and only had 4 points in 15 games along with a -9 rating.
I’m not here to say that Kopecky is no longer good, or not valuable, because he is, he is a player that tries to do the best, he can while being a leader by example. After having 20 points before the All Star break, Kopecky was still on a good pace to get about 40-45 points, but since then he has somewhat lost his scoring touch. He hasn’t had many chances to let fire his powerful and sneaky wrist shot he covets and maybe he just isn’t clicking with his new line mates. Either way he has 3 points in 16 games after the all star break, which are all assists. After having a career season last year in which he scored 42 points, this season looks to be a somewhat down year after being so successful last season.
So far in the month of March, he is averaging about 16 minutes of ice time a game, and has one assist to show for. He assisted on a goal in last Sundays thriller over Ottawa and hopes to continue to get on the score sheet during the 2 game roadtrip. The last time Kopecky registered points in back to back games were on Jan 18 and Jan 20. Hopefully he has found somewhat of a groove now that he finally got a point after only getting two all the month of February.
We need Kopecky to get going somehow. He doesn’t necessarily have to be a point a game guy down the stretch, but he has to help out more then he has lately. As the playoffs inch closer and closer, Kopecky can help lead by example as how to keep the team cool and calm and have amnesia really quickly and just continue playing. That play happened, move onto the next one. That’s the mentality the Panthers need to have. Play like it’s still 0-0 even if they have the lead, and play like there is no tomorrow if they find themselves down. Having Kopecky help lead the way will be a huge plus if the Panthers can hold onto a playoff spot, but Kopecky is going to have to pick up his own game as well.
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