Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 3/5/12
When Michal Rozsival was whistled for cross-checking to set up a Los Angeles power play with 90 seconds remaining and Phoenix leading 1-0 on February 16, coach Darryl Sutter opted to send out hulking 6'3, 234 pound rookie Dwight King, who had recorded two points in his eight previous NHL games. The power play was unsuccessful as the Coyotes edged the Kings in the first of two victories against their Pacific Division rivals in five days. With goal scoring proving to be so difficult, and established veterans watching from the bench, what was the rationale behind sending someone so green onto the ice in a tense, playoff-infused situation? "Why wouldn't I? He's a good offensive player," Sutter said, issuing a response that may have raised an eyebrow or two at the time but in hindsight displays a bounty of confidence in the suddenly productive young winger who has two goals, six points and a plus-four rating in 10 games. "This time around I'm confident in my game," King said last month about the differences between his six game stint last year and his current assignment. "I know what I can bring, and how to be effective out there, so I pretty much just kind of focus on that, and it has been working out for our line and our team." Having flanked Mike Richards with Jordan Nolan immediately upon his call-up, King has now been skating opposite Jeff Carter and was successful in digging loose pucks free and protecting them while his linemates were able to find open space in Saturday's 4-2 win over Anaheim. It resulted in the first two-assist game of King's career and makes the 22-year old Saskatchewan native an interesting player to watch on the four-game roadtrip that opens Tuesday in Nashville (5:00 PT FOX Sports West). "He protects the puck well. He's a big body, a good skater," Richards said. "I think he'd be tough to play against if I had to play against him because he protects the puck so well and he's a he's such a hard worker. He's slowly getting chemistry with Jeff there and slowly putting it together. Hopefully it can continue." More interested in defining the line's overall dynamic instead of focusing on one player, Sutter acknowledged that much of King's success stems from a good situation he's inherited. "He's a solid guy and makes good plays, he has good instincts, and he's playing with two really good players," Sutter said, also noting the trio's effectiveness after the game against Anaheim on Saturday. "That Getzlaf line and Richards line were dominant lines Saturday night. Whenever they were on the ice, they dominated. Both those lines. That means that you can spread it around." For Saturday's eventual game-winner, King beat veteran Anaheim defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to a puck flipped into the offensive zone, boxing out the former King and freeing the puck loose for Richards, who eventually set up Carter's snapper from between the circles. The play represented exactly what the Kings will be looking to do when they face Nashville, Columbus, Detroit and Chicago away from home this week. Chip the puck deep, win battles in the offensive zone, and go to the areas on the ice where goals are scored. "Goaltending, special teams are two big things, and for this team, just keeping it very simple," Dustin Brown said of the recipe to win road games. "We have high end skilled players who can make skilled plays, but from top to bottom I think it's important the little things make a big difference on the road. "Sometimes you catch a team at home trying to play that high, flash and dash game, and if you're just a solid D-team and do all the little things right, you end up getting more chances than they do." That's not the likely resistance they'll receive from the Predators, a team they'll face for the second time in eight days after falling 2-1 to the conference's fifth place team last Monday at Bridgestone Arena. "We didn't get one break," Sutter said about last week's loss to Nashville. "The next night we went to Minnesota, didn't play as well, and we got a break in the first minute. You know what? Don't try and think too much about it. Do things right and continue the work ethic that we have, and we'll let er rip." Acknowledging the additions of Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad since Los Angeles' last visit, Sutter understands the challenge his team will face in a building that hasn't been kind to visiting teams. The Predators are 21-7-5 at home this season. "They've been awesome at home when you look at it," Sutter said. "They didn't get any weaker in the last week."
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