Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/16/12 at 10:39 PM ET
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The Kings’ ability to absorb and adapt to Sutter’s message is one of the primary reasons they are 10-1 in the playoffs and halfway to qualifying for their first Stanley Cup final in 19 years. The Kings lead the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 in the Western Conference final, heading into Thursday’s third game, a game in which the Coyotes will play without centre Martin Hanzal, who was suspended one game by the NHL for a dangerous hit from behind against Kopitar’s linemate, Dustin Brown.
Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick are the Kings’ leading Conn Smythe trophy contenders, but Kopitar is No. 3 with a bullet, and in the midst of a strong playoff of his own. Through 11 games, he is second on the team in scoring with 13 points, one behind Brown. Kopitar is the Kings’ perennial scoring leader, a player whose ability to play at both ends of the rink is what makes him so valued by the team’s coaching staff and his teammates.
“I don’t want to say Kopi’s underrated, but he’s very underrated in the D zone, with how hard that he plays,” said linemate Justin Williams. “You respect that as a winger, knowing that he’s hard on guys in the defensive zone. We get a lot more time in the offensive zone, because he’s so good in our zone.”
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