Kings center Anze Kopitar
is scheduled to undergo surgery on Wednesday to repair torn ligaments in his right ankle and is expected to be ready for the start of next season.
Based on initial diagnosis, done immediately after Kopitar was hurt in Saturday afternoon's game against Colorado, there had been hope that Kopitar's recovery time would be limited to six weeks, but that depended on the results of an MRI.
That MRI, done Monday morning, revealed torn ligaments caused by a high ankle sprain, the team said, and Kopitar isn't likely to return to the ice until the middle of summer.
"It's just going to be a good test for this young hockey club," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "We'll be better when we come through it. There's no question about it. Guys are going to be in a higher situation, more important situation, and they'll grow immensely through this opportunity."
Kopitar suffered the injury in the second period Saturday, when he got tangled with Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne in the corner and got his right leg twisted as he fell backward toward the ice. Kopitar needed the assistance of teammates to get off the ice.
Kopitar has a team-high 73 points in 75 games this season. The Kings are also without second-leading scorer Justin Williams
, who has a dislocated shoulder.
The Kings face Edmonton on Tuesday and are expected to go with a first line of center Michal Handzus and wingers Dustin Penner
and Oscar Moller, and a second line of center Trevor Lewis
and wingers Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown
"That's why we have 23 guys on the team," Handzus said. "Obviously it hurts, because he's our best player, but everybody goes through injuries, so it's not only about one guy. Everybody has got to step up a little bit higher. Some guys are going to take a little more responsibility, but it's more about the team. It's just the way it is. We cannot go back and we cannot look back. We just look forward. We're going to make up for it and it's going to make us a better team, for sure."Jonathan Bernier
is scheduled to start in goal against the Oilers, with Jonathan Quick
scheduled to star Thursday at Vancouver.