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Sutter on Kings’ center depth: “The strongest part of our team”

May 15, 2012, 12:21 PM EST

Kopitar Richards

In a postseason where the most valuable Kings could be G Jonathan Quick, D Drew Doughty and RW Dustin Brown, it was interesting to hear Darryl Sutter discuss the importance of his centers.

“I said when I came here, I thought it was the strongest part of our team,” Sutter told LA Kings Insider. “Last year, [Anze] Kopitar never played in the playoffs. Richie [Mike Richards] wasn’t here. Jarret Stoll was suspended one game. Fraze [Colin Fraser] was not here.

“If you look at it, it’s a total shift in that position. You know how important that position is.’’

The Kopitar-Richards-Stoll-Fraser quartet has been impressive this postseason.

Offensively, it’s combined for 9G-14A-23PTS and a plus-14 rating.

Defensively, it’s been a great shutdown unit. Opposing centers have had a helluva time trying to break loose — Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler was harassed into a miserable opening round series (no goals, minus-1); in Round 2, St. Louis’ Patrik Berglund went scoreless in four games (after scoring seven points in five against San Jose.)

In Game 1 against Phoenix, the Kings were at it again. The Coyotes centers — Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette, Boyd Gordon and Daymond Langkow — were hammered in the faceoff circle (Gordon went 8-for-17, Hanzal 5-for-13, Langkow 2-for-8) and went a combined minus-2.

LA’s centers, meanwhile, combined for three points and 11 shots on goal.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett recognized the battle down the middle will be key in this series.

“We recognized that L.A. played a strong game, but I think we can be much better than we were,” he explained. “Center ice is obviously very important in that. Our whole group can be a lot better.’’

  1. govtminion - May 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    Wow, actually that is a pretty impressive set of centers. Was it just me, or was Kopitar very quiet this year? Granted, I’m on the east coast, but I can’t think of having heard his name much compared to last year.

  2. dannythebisforbeast - May 15, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    No love for Jeff Carter?? C’mon man

  3. mahhelo - May 15, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Kopitar did have an off year as did every King. However, the last few weeks of season and playoffs have been much better. Hopefully that will continue.

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