If you refer back to Sutter’s Law, there are a handful of factors that will allow a team to advance deep into the playoffs.
“Goaltenders, special teams, top players, unsung heroes and discipline,” Darryl Sutter said during the team’s playoff run two years ago. “Write it down and don’t forget it.”
As far as unsung heroes are concerned, Dwight King fit well into that role in 2012 and is doing so once again in 2012.
Having scored five goals as part of a 0.4 points per game average during the 2012 run, he has averaged .42 points per game in 2014 by virtue of his three goals and 10 points in 24 games. His 23 career playoff points place him in a tie for 18th place on the team’s all-time playoff scoring registry with Mike Donnelly. Of course, the point total isn’t what makes King valuable to Los Angeles; it’s his ability to retain possession and battle along the boards, kill penalties and set up in front of the net.
The 24-year-old is in his third playoff run with the Kings, and two years after he was one of the team’s postseason darlings is now able to look back at the run enjoyed by both Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson. Toffoli and Pearson are technically rookies even though they both played in last year’s postseason; all three players were drafted and developed by the Kings.
“I think that’s exciting for them,” King said. “Obviously they’re going off adrenaline, off excitement. They understand, but they don’t know the experience. I think that’s the most fun part of it. Looking back, that’s what I enjoyed. You don’t really know what to expect out of it, but you do just focus on yourself and bring what you can, knowing that ahead would be a great experience.”
King also articulated the difference between the 2012 and 2014 runs.
“This year, it’s been a lot tougher,” he recalled. “We’ve played some great opponents and we’ve really had to fight to get this far. That’s a big part of playoff hockey, obviously. That year we just went on an unbelievable run. That’s nice to be a part of, but this is when you think of playoff hockey. You think of being tested and tried and that’s stuff like our game here.”
Dwight King, on creating traffic in front of the goalie:
That’s a big part of hockey and a big part of playoff success is getting to the front of the net and making it hard for the goaltender, especially an elite goaltender. I don’t think that will change either me or anybody else on our team who is trying to get there.
King, on whether it has been difficult hearing people discuss his Game 2 goal as interference:
They can talk about it. Nothing is going to come of it. So there is not really [anything] to stress over or think about. The call was made. Once it stands, it stands. There is nothing talking about change affecting. So it really didn’t bother me. [Reporter: How many times have you seen it?] I watched it once, once we did video here. That was about it.
King, on being one win away from a second Stanley Cup:
It’s nice. Obviously you work for this. But like everybody else is saying, we do have a little bit of work left to do and that’s the main, important thing.
King, on the support from his hometown of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan:
Yeah, they’re a pretty intense hockey community. Obviously where we’re located, it’s up there. For winter time sports, hockey is definitely the number-one activity to do. It’s nice to have that support. It’s great to see the support, even not just for me, but for our team in general. [Reporter: There are Kings fans up there.] It’s funny how that works. No matter if it’s a local guy, no matter what organization. You go somewhere and it’s more so cheering for the team itself than one individual player, which is what sports fans are supposed to do.
King, on whether he’d prefer an earlier start time:
It’d be nice if it was 7:00 or something. It’s already moving along. I mean it’s already noon now, so time is going to tick away. It’s not a big issue. We’ll do our normal thing. Just put everything out and maybe get a nap and that passes time. So it’s good.