EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn't exactly say "match, schmatch" when asked why he doesn't care about matching lines, but he might as well have.
In this Western Conference finals series, one of the more intriguing sidebars is how little time Sutter spends trying to get certain lines out against certain Chicago Blackhawks lines.
In fact, his lack of interest in the process, so important to other coaches in other series, really speaks to the team’s overall philosophy.
For instance, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wanted Jonathan Toews’ line against the Kings’ top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik in Games 1 and 2 in Chicago when Quenneville had last change. Sutter refused to try to get away from the matchup and, lo and behold, in Game 3 when he could have used the last change to dictate different matchups, Sutter kept Kopitar's line against Toews', even though Toews had a terrific first period, scoring twice.
Sutter said Sunday he still likes that matchup of top lines but in general feels that his third and fourth lines should be able to compete competently three or four times a night with other teams' top units. If not, they shouldn't be in the lineup, he said.
The players certainly like the idea that their coach simply trusts the group to play well without having to search for specific matchups that mean rotating quickly on and off the ice and disrupting the flow of the game.
"As a player, it's a lot easier when you don’t have to get on the ice, get off the ice, have a lot of quick changes," Justin Williams said. "That kind of takes away from the flow of the game, and really he trusts his players -- regardless of who he puts out there -- they're good enough, good enough checkers that they’re going to get the job done.
"That obviously comes with trust, and that makes the players feel good about themselves too, knowing the coach is going to give you the opportunity."
Asked about the lack of matchup ambition from his counterpart, Quenneville suggested things might change as the series moves along.
"I think there are some things he’s looking at doing,” Quenneville said. "We'll see how that progresses as we go along here. They've got four lines. He’s comfortable with his four lines just about against anybody. We’ll see how that plays out going forward.
"The top lines have seen more against one another than the other lines. But that could change."