AUDIO: Includes audio of media interview with Dwight King after practice on Feburary 17, 2015.
EL SEGUNDO, CA — Since he was called up to the Los Angeles Kings for good in the 2011-12 season when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history, left wing Dwight King has had his share of detractors.
Whether it was his perceived lack of speed or skating ability, his hands, puck-handling, goal scoring—you name it, King has probably been criticized rather heavily for it.
This season, King has moved from line-to-line a lot, as head coach Darryl Sutter has tried several different combinations, trying to spark his team’s offense. But King was only good for a goal or an assist every once in a blue moon, and that continued after he was moved onto “That 70’s Line,” with Jeff Carter at center and Tyler Toffoli on right wing after left wing Tanner Pearson suffered a broken fibula on January 10.
Indeed, it did not take long before many complained that King did not belong on a line with two players who were so much more talented and skilled.
But during the Kings’ current five-game winning streak, King has scored three goals and has tallied four assists for seven points, with a +6 rating in those five games.
At the same time, “That 70’s Line, Version 2.0” has combined for ten goals and eleven assists for 21 points during the five-game winning streak.
Although Carter and Toffoli are the flashy, highly-skilled players on the line, it is King who is doing most of the dirty, grunt work along the boards and in the corners—he has been absolutely critical to the line’s success, not to mention that of the entire team.
When asked about his recent play, King, as Kings players often do, deferred to his teammates.
“Getting to play with good line mates who know each other very well, and are very effective together—I’m just kind of jumping in there, trying to replicate, pretty much, what Tanner did before me—work hard, get on pucks, and get to the net,” said King. “So far, it’s been effective.”
“When you play with different players, you get to know their tendencies, and what they’re really good at,” added King, who has scored ten goals and has contributed ten assists for twenty points, with a -2 plus/minus rating and eleven penalty minutes in 55 games this season. “Carts is really fast, and really effective up the middle. Tyler is creative with the puck, and deceptive, so for myself, it’s hard work, [and] being better in [loose puck] battles. That can [create] a little more offensive zone time for the three of us.”
Indeed, increased time playing in the attacking zone has not only resulted in goals for Carter, King and Toffoli, but it has forced other teams to pay greater attention to them, opening things up for other lines, helping the Kings get balanced scoring, something that has eluded them for most of the 2014-15 campaign.
Although one might think King is doing different things in order to fill in for Pearson, he would be the first to tell you that his game has not changed, and that his forté remains forechecking and puck possession.
“That would probably define my play,” he said. “Those are two things that, if I’m effective, I’m doing well. That goes with puck placements, keeping my legs moving, and holding onto pucks until you see a play that’s make-able.”
Given that the Kings are still in the deep hole they dug for themselves, in terms of qualifying for the playoffs, King’s contributions could not have come at a better time.
“That’s the way a season goes, most years,” said King. “But it’s the focus on this last push here, for our team. Getting the opportunity to play with Tyler and Jeff, and the opportunity we’re getting out there on the ice is big. It’s something we’ve got to take advantage of.”
As it is often said in sports, success breeds more success. As such, King’s role and contributions could grow into something even bigger as the push for the playoffs grows more intense with the end of the regular season getting closer every day.
The positive results are certainly resulting in added confidence.
“Confidence is climbing, that’s for sure,” he noted. “It’s nice. It’s one of those things that you’ve got to take game-by-game.”
But King warned that as quickly as confidence can build, it can wither away just as fast.
“[Confidence] can go away just as fast as it came,” King stressed. “I like what we’re doing out there. Hopefully, we can continue it.”
Raw Audio Interviews
(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Dwight King (2:05)
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