May 20, 2014, 4:19 PM EST
Darryl Sutter has long been a fan of Jonathan Toews — last year, Sutter called him the best captain in hockey not named Dustin Brown — but on Tuesday, the Kings head coach took his admiration to new heights.
From the NHL:
Q. Why do you think the Toews line was successful against your top line defensively in Game 1?
COACH SUTTER: They’re a great line. Jonathan Toews, he is the best two-way player in the National Hockey League. Hossa is right there next in terms of wingers. That’s for sure.
It’s an interesting comment, mostly because Sutter coaches one of the NHL’s best two-way players in Anze Kopitar. In fact, Kopitar cemented his status three weeks ago by earning his first-ever Selke nomination as the NHL’s top defensive forward; the big Slovenian appeared in all 82 games this year and finished second to Sidney Crosby in terms of minutes logged by a forward, logging more shorthanded time than any of the NHL’s top-30 scorers while winning 53.3 percent of his faceoffs.
Kopitar’s also been outstanding this postseason, leading all scorers with 19 points through 15 games.
That said, there’s no denying Toews’ place in the conversation of best two-way players. He’s the reigning Selke winner and has been a finalist three times over the last four years, including this season.
Oh, and then there are Toews’ unparalleled leadership skills. Just ask Kopitar’s coach about those.
“Jonathan impacts their locker room, maybe more so than his on-ice performance,” Sutter said last year, per the Chicago Daily Herald. “Just what he brings them.
“He is the consummate player.”
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