For reference sake, (and because I was curious) I calculated his PPG and GPG for each month, each year. Note that he was injured Mar-Apr both last season and his rookie year. I've probably made at least one or two mistakes due to typing, but should be mostly accurate.
So every year teams forget how good Kopitar is, leave him alone for the first 20 games, then remember he is good and they key on him? Every year?
You make a very valid point re: Richards flourishing when Kopitar isnt but that is new this year. The Koptar slump stands the test of time. It's an annual occurrence.
Every year teams sign free agents, adjust to new line-mates/pairings, tweak systems, and return from 4 months off. On day 1 of the season, Kopitar shows up and produces. He consistently enters the season ready to play and rarely needs an adjustment period. "Forget how good he is" is a hyperbole. But yes, I would bet every player/team in the league thinks a little bit more of Kopitar on October 31 than they did April of the previous season. The line-up has gotten deeper and deeper every season for the last 3 years. Every October 1st visiting teams are taking a little more time to look over the entire line-up. Yet every November 1st its obvious who came prepared, and who needs to be shutdown in order to beat the LA Kings.
I just don't see it. Yes, October is his 2nd best month statistically and his numbers December-January are below his career average. But there are very few of his 417 games where I've questioned his effort level, focus, or anything to lead me to believe that there is something mentally that he needs to grow out of.
Kopi didn't havea good November, 1 G 3A, however that is one of hte reasons Lombardi got Richards, who has 9 G, 1A in Nov.
Also, a part inside of Kopi knows that, he's not carrying the load alone anymore at C and it's possible, not intentionally, that he does let up at times. Richards is there to balance that out.
Richards has been gearing up the last few weeks and going forward, if stays consistant and Kopi starts scoring again, that's great for the team. RIchards didn't get the G's in Oct, Kopi did.
Hopefully Dec they both do. Esp now that Gagne is back where he belongs with Richards. Richards is far too skilled a playmaker not to have an elite winger.