Kings: Darryl Sutter rolls with lines from Game 5 victory
April, 24, 2012
By Dan Arritt | ESPNLosAngeles.com
EL SEGUNDO -- Call it the been-there-done-that line.
In his first practice since the Kings clinched the opening-round playoff series Sunday in Vancouver, coach Darryl Sutter stuck with the forward lines that got him there.
That meant rookie Dwight King was still playing left wing on the third line with center Jarret Stoll, who scored the overtime winner in Game 5 against the Canucks, and right wing Trevor Lewis, who forced the turnover that set the series-clinching play in motion.
It also meant Dustin Penner was still playing left wing on the second line with center Mike Richards and his other wingmate, Jeff Carter.
The trio combined for just two goals in the series against the Canucks, compared to four for the unlikely combination of Stoll, Lewis and Brad Richardson, but their postseason experience and scoring potential is unmatched among the other Western Conference playoff teams.
Penner, Richards and Carter have appeared in a combined 165 playoff games, winning 91. They have one Stanley Cup title between them, two other finals appearance and 38 playoff goals.
“What Richey brings and what Carts brings and what I bring, it’s all something that has the blueprints for success,” Penner said after practice Tuesday at Toyota Sports Center. “It’s just a matter of putting the pen to paper.”
The other angle to the move is Sutter's decision to ride the hot hand of Stoll, Lewis and King, who was taken off the second line in Game 5 to help drum up some offense. The Kings had scored only two goals between the start of Game 3 and the beginning of the third period in Game 5.
Richardson tied the score, 1-1, early in third third period of Game 5 to get the game into overtime. That's when Lewis poked the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis about four minutes in, allowing Stoll and King to break losse on a 2-on-1. Stoll hit the back of the net with a wrist shot and the Kings won their first playoff series in 11 years, advancing to play the St. Louis Blues in the second round.
“We’re lucky that we have guys that can play everywhere,” Sutter said. “We’ll keep trying to find stuff that works, like we did in Vancouver.”
On another note, fourth-line winger Kyle Clifford skated after practice, but doesn't appear close to returning. He banged his head on the glass after a hard hit by Byron Bitz in Game 1 in Vancouver and hasn’t played since. Sutter didn’t have an update on his condition. Andrei Loktionov replaced Clifford in the lineup for Games 2 and 3, and Richardson then replaced Loktionov after missing the first three games following an emergency appendectomy.