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Frolov Mentors Kopitar

October 09, 2006|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Alexander Frolov sat by himself, mostly undisturbed, Saturday morning, while a few questions were fired at the guy sitting next to him, Anze Kopitar.

As Kopitar's stature has emerged in the last month, from a 19-year-old NHL fledgling to Kings' wunderkind, Frolov has watched with interest as the Slovenian center has attracted the spotlight.

Frolov was taking it all in Saturday when he was asked, "Is it nice not to be the young guy in the room anymore?"

"Yeah," said Frolov, adding, "Yeah, but he's good. Really good."

A basic observation from the 24-year-old Russian's perspective.

Frolov and Kopitar have yet to be joined at the hip, though they have been placed on the same line. But Frolov seems to have made an effort to be a mentor, which in turn will help with his progression.

At least that's the theory Coach Marc Crawford is hoping plays out.

"They seem to have some chemistry," Crawford said after the Kings' 4-1 victory Saturday over the St. Louis Blues. "I think Fro is starting to feel responsible for Kopitar. He knows he's a young kid who is still learning about the league. You can see them talking on the bench."

They had lots to talk about Saturday.

Kopitar, who scored two goals in the Kings' opener Friday, and Frolov assisted on the Kings' first goal against the Blues, with some connect-the-dots passing that led to a Lubomir Visnovsky one-timer. The two were then teamed on the goal that broke a 1-1 tie. Kopitar got the puck moving, then went to the net, where he got tangled up with goaltender Manny Legace. That left Frolov free to chip in a rebound.

"When I was young, I watched a lot of Russian hockey and I know it takes a lot of skills," Kopitar said. "I think me and Fro are getting along really good."


Kopitar is drawing raves from his coach, who has couched previous comments with "he's still got a lot to learn." But after Kopitar's three assists Saturday, Crawford was ready to gush a tad.

"He's a big-time talent, no doubt about it," Crawford said. "The big thing is, he is very teachable. You tell him something once and he goes out and does it. He's a coach's son and he has that type of upbringing."


Mathieu Garon, supplanted as the Kings' No. 1 goaltender by Dan Cloutier, showed he was not going to take it sitting down. He stopped 35 of 36 shots against the Blues, including 18 of 19 in the second period when the game was in doubt.

"We're going to need both our goaltenders," Crawford said. "You need two good ones in the Western Conference, with the travel and back-to-back games. I don't think you can have one guy who plays 65-70 games."


The Kings are not concerning themselves with the many predictions about their eventual demise. Every publication has them failing to make the playoffs.

"Every year people make those predictions, who's going to finish where," defenseman Aaron Miller said.

"Really, no one knows. If they did, they'd be in Las Vegas getting rich. Talk to me in April and we'll see how successful our season has been."


Sean Avery waited until the last minute of the second game of the season to pick up his first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. He and the Blues' Dallas Drake were sent off with 23 seconds left in Saturday's game.


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