LOS ANGELES - Funny guy that Darryl Sutter.
When asked about the growth of winger Dwight King - the unexpected scoring star for the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference final - Sutter replied:
“Still 232 (pounds),” said the Kings coach. “After games he’s 228.”
Whatever his weight, the 22-year-old from Meadowlake, Sask., has been throwing it around.
He scored in his third-straight game as the Kings moved to within a game of the Stanley Cup final with their 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night. King now has four goals in his last three games and five in five.
“It’s a dream. You want to be part of the Stanley Cup playoffs,” said King, who was playing in Manchester of the American Hockey League in January. “To be a contributor is even better. Everything is coming around.”
When asked about King’s play, Sutter said: “Better than he was when we got him, right? Just ’cause he’s scoring, I don’t think it’s growth. That’s kind of been what he’s done in his junior career and his pro career. Same thing.
“He’s a big kid that is strong on the puck, has a good sense, good feel for the game.”
King was called up along with Jordan Nolan in Februrary and the two were pretty much thrown onto the second line with centre Mike Richards as the Kings struggled with injuries and production.
“We threw him right into it, because you know what, we played those kids together with Mike Richards," Sutter said. "We were struggling on the wing with that whole dimension part of it, getting minutes and trying to get some scoring opportunities."
King had 24 goals in 72 games last year with the Monarchs and added another 11 in 50 games this season, so he knows where the net is.
"Once I have the opportunity, I feel comfortable. Obviously in junior hockey, the AHL, it’s something you develop and get comfortable with," King said. "When you get in those situations, you want to bear down on those situations. Right now they’re going in and it feels pretty good."
When asked what he saw as his top end as a goal scorer he said: “I wouldn’t say a high-number goal-scorer. When I get my opportunity, I feel just as comfortable as anybody else in those situations to find a way to put them in.”
• • •
The Kings pretty much brushed off the comments about embellishing made by a hot Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett after Game 3.
When asked what Mike Richards thought about Tippett’s comments: “The referees have a hard job and what it does is make the game dishonest," he shrugged them off.
“It’s fast out there. It’s intense. I don’t see it. If it’s there, it’s not for me to point out ... It’s hard to pinpoint anything that would happen because you never know what actually did (happen)," Richards said. “He’s entitled to his opinion. They have the best of the best refs here, as well as the teams.
"They know what is an embellishment and what’s not. I thought they’ve called a pretty good game. I think in playoff series, when one team has more power plays, the other team’s not so happy. We just have to play our game. We can’t worry about what’s said, what’s not said, officiating, what’s called, what’s not called."
The Kings have had 17 power plays to the Coyotes’ 10 in the West final.
“I said my piece on embellishment,” said Tippett. “It wasn’t geared toward that game last night. I talked about this from the start of the year.
"Obviously, there’s frustration on our part that we would like to get better results," he added. "Our margin for error is very slim when we feel like there’s some situations that happen in a game that go against you, we’re looking for every little scratch we can find, every little piece of positive we can find to help us get back in the series. When that doesn’t
happen, you get frustrated with it."
But Tippett gives L.A. credit.
“They’ve played very well. I don’t think we’ve played as well in this series as we have the two previous. We’re down 3-0 because of it.”