Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Yes, the performance of Mike Richards is a little more crucial then that of Anze Kopitar.
Richards is the depth center. Everyone expects Kopitar to be Anze Kopitar; you know what you are getting with the big Slovenian.
Richards, however, has a role that is much more crucial this year. If Richards and his linemates get hot, it opens up the ice for the first line and Anze Kopitar. If Richards disappears it lays all pressure on the first line for the offensive load. Kings fans have seen this happen before, and it was part of the problem last season when the team couldn't find scoring from multiple sources.
It's hard to say that the second line center's role is more crucial than the first line center, but in this case it's true. While Richards is a major penalty killer and defensive cog in the Kings system, it's going to be a massive contributing factor to the team's overall success if he can get himself and his linemates going offensively.
Scoring from all lines was something that frustrated teams last season, and Richards was a big part of that in the playoffs once he and his linemates became a threat.