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Panthers not worried about Kopecky's slow start

by Alain Poupart /

SUNRISE, Fla. -- After leading the Florida Panthers in goals last season, Tomas Kopecky still is looking for his first point after nine games.

The veteran forward is frustrated about the drought, but coach Kevin Dineen said he has no issue with Kopecky's performance so far this season.

Tomas Kopecky
Right Wing - FLA
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 20 | +/-: -1
"Kopy is fine," Dineen said Tuesday after his team's morning skate in preparation for a game against the Chicago Blackhawks at BB&T Center. "He's a diverse player. I don't judge his games as much on what it shows on the score sheet at the end of the night. He has value in many different ways and a lot of that is in his leadership. That's not chirping in the room, that's going out there and playing the way that we have to play on a consistent basis to win."

Kopecky led the Panthers in 2012-13 season with 15 goals in 47 games. That tied his career high, which he had accomplished in 81 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010-11.

However, he failed to score a goal in the last nine games of last season, meaning his drought has reached 18 games.

"It's tough, obviously," Kopecky said. "I would like to help the team more with the goals or assists. It's not going my way right now, but I've just got to stick with it, stay patient. I've had good chances. I've just got to bury down. Once you get that one, from there it's going to hopefully turn around. Right now I'm just being patient, working hard and just stick to the basics. Shoot the puck; the more that I shoot, the more I have a chance to score."

Despite his lack of offensive production, Kopecky remains among the leaders in ice time among Panthers forwards.

Kopecky has been getting less power-play time than he did last season when the Panthers were ravaged by injuries, but he is one of three key forwards on the penalty-killing unit, along with Marcel Goc and Jesse Winchester.

"With opportunities, everything else is going to come," Kopecky said. "But on the other hand, you have to earn that opportunity and I understand that. I understand my role might be a little different than last year. Coaches putting us there against their top lines, make sure we don't get scored on. That's my job right now, but in the end, trust me, I would love to contribute a little more than I have been."

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