What they came up with during those sessions turned into a playoff piece de resistance: putting the versatile
"As a coach, you're always saying, 'Now, now, now.'" Sutter said on Sunday. "But you do it more in a longer way, just look at it differently, how the young guys are going to play, Tyler [Toffoli], Tanner [Pearson].
"At that point, those two kids were still guys that couldn't be here because of [salary] cap, but we wanted to get here somehow. Not just have them here, but play them….Jeff, we like him at center. Even when we got him, we saw him as a centerman. We weren't in that position yet to do that. He's comfortable anywhere. He just wants to play a lot."
The Kings acquired Carter from the
The team's strength down the middle is enviable:
"I think being in the center may help him a little bit just with getting more speed," Richards said of Carter, his friend since their days together in Philadelphia. "He's always stepped up ever since I've known him in the playoffs. He's always been the guy that in big games and situations, he always steps up. At key points in the game if we need momentum … it's that line that's given to us right now."
Carter's dramatic upsurge in playoff scoring — seven points in the last two games — has helped give the Kings a 2-1 series lead against the
Carter had back-to-back games of four points and three points, and is keeping the Elias Sport Bureau busy with daily updates, it seems. Carter became the Kings' second-leading scorer in the postseason with 19 points, one point behind Kopitar and four ahead of Gaborik.
Now the Blackhawks are talking about Carter, Toffoli and Pearson the way the
"I played with Jeff Carter a bunch in my career, and he's a great center man, he can play the wing as well," Blackhawks winger
Carter put together his four points — a hat trick and an assist — in the third period of Game 2 in about 41/2 minutes of ice time in the third. He scored on his first shot in Game 3.
You might say he is like a star striker in soccer. He might get one chance, but he somehow finishes despite precious little time and space.
Justin Williams marvels at his teammate's ability to take advantage of the smallest openings. And Williams is hardly a slouch around the net himself, having scored 27 playoff goals, including six goals in seventh games.
"Little spots, little openings," Williams said. "He can get his stick on it and get a chance. That's why he's a special player. Not many guys can do that. He's a versatile player that has the ability to explode.