It seems every NHL team embarking on a memorable playoff run receives a few surprise contributions along the way. Dustin Penner and Dwight King stood out during the Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run; Warren Rychel's play was one of the big surprises of the team's march to the 1993 Final.
And for a guy who finished 16th on his team in scoring during the regular season, Kings forward Trevor Lewis has been playing at a level this postseason that has somewhat defied his reputation as merely a role player.
Lewis netted the winning goal in the Kings' 2-1 victory over the Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday. Heading into Friday's Game 7, he is tied for second in team playoff goal scoring with four.
Despite his newfound fondness for the back of the net, Lewis hasn't strayed from his duties as a critical utility player. He sees significant time on the penalty-kill unit and is someone Coach Darryl Sutter can count on when tinkering with line combinations to maximize matchup scenarios.
"I have a lot of trust in Trevor," Sutter said Thursday. "It doesn't matter if he is scoring or not. We can move him all over the lineup. He's played left wing the last two games, center the game before that, he played right wing every game before that."
It's that kind of dexterity coupled with his speed and scoring touch that have made Lewis such a valuable player during the Kings' five escapes from postseason elimination.
In addition to sniping a five-hole shot past Ducks goalie John Gibson on the rush, Lewis helped shut down the Ducks' power play in Game 6. The Ducks were held to six shots in five scoreless efforts with the man advantage. Lewis helped limit the Ducks' chances mostly to shots from the point and outside the slot.
"He really does a lot more than just score goals," Sutter said. "Are we happy he scores goals? Absolutely. He scored the game-winner last night. He's comfortable with his role and what he brings, and we're quite happy with that."
Still the underdog?
The regular season might seem like ancient history to some, but Sutter remains keenly aware of where the Ducks finished (116 points) in relation to the Kings (100) in the point standings.
Sutter's response of "116 points" when citing the Kings' underdog status seems more a verbal impulse than recognition of how close in quality the teams have been over the series. Still, he's convinced the Ducks have to be a little annoyed that the Kings have managed to make it this far.
"I think of the two rivals, the one team that had 116 points probably [would] prefer not to play a Game 7," Sutter said.
Sutter isn't the only one who sees the Kings as clear underdogs. Center Jarret Stoll echoed his coach's sentiments.
"I'd say we are. Sixteen points is a lot over the course of the season," Stoll said. "They're a great team. They've got a lot of good things going on over there. I'd say a lot of pressure is on them, a lot of pressure is on their goaltender, a lot of pressure is on their entire team to win on home ice."
Quick is relaxed
Mike Richards and Justin Williams both said Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is his normal "even-keel" self on the eve of Game 7. Not having to navigate his way through L.A. traffic might have something to do with it.
"He was wearing a tank top to the rink today, so he's pretty relaxed," said Williams, who carpools with Quick. "We have our stupid little superstitions that we do with ourselves. I'll drive if we won, continue driving if we win. Every player has those stupid things that you change up that should be the difference in the series."