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X-Factor: Dwight King is the toast of L.A.

by Shawn P. Roarke
Dwight King
Dwight King
Left Wing - LAK
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 5
SOG: 20 | +/-: 1

Only the most diehard Kings fans -- those who follow the fortunes of the team's American Hockey League franchise in Manchester, N.H. -- knew about Dwight King when the Stanley Cup Playoffs started in April.

Today, as June looms, King is the toast of Hollywood.

King was called up during the season to give the Kings a dose of size as the team fought for its playoff life down the stretch. In 27 regular-season games, he managed five goals.

The 22-year-old has matched that total in L.A.'s 14 games this postseason, scoring four of them in a three-game span to open the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Coyotes. In those games, Phoenix could not find a matchup to contain King, who goes 6-foot-3 and 234 pounds. His four goals in one series was one short of the team record held by Daryl Evans.

King's five goals are one off the team record for goals by a rookie in a playoff year, set by Warren Rychel in 1993 -- when the Kings last made it to the Stanley Cup Final, losing in five games to the Montreal Canadiens.

"I would not have believed them, that's for sure," King said. "Crazy things happen in hockey. Just happy to be a part of it right now. ... It's a dream. You want to be part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To be a contributor is even better. Everything is coming around."

Against Phoenix, King did most of his damage down low, working the cycle effectively and using his size to gain position on opposing defensemen. His signature move in that series involved getting the puck along the half-wall and curling out, gaining position on his checker, to generate a high-quality shot on net.

"That's kind of been what he's done in his junior career and his pro career," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Same thing."

King scored 59 goals and 129 points in his final two seasons with Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League. In 2010-11, King scored 24 goals and 52 points with the AHL Monarchs.

He could be an interesting player in this series because the Devils may also have matchup problems against King.

They don't have a physically dominating defenseman -- Anton Volchenkov is the closest candidate. The Devils aren't also blessed with a ton of size on their forward lines, so Sutter might be able to find matchups he can exploit -- particularly at the Staples Center, where the Kings get the last change.

If so, it will be up to King to make a positive difference in this series -- much as he did against Phoenix.

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