Keeping up with the Kings isn’t easy, just ask Ducks general manager Bob Murray

The Ducks are expected to be active in trade discussions over the next few days at the NHL draft, trying to upgrade their roster in an attempt to match the Stanley Cup champion Kings. The Ducks want help at center and on defense. Here’s what Ducks general manager Bob Murray said about keeping up with the Kings, or trying to catch up to them, anyway:

“They won the Stanley Cup and they deserved to. They were the best team. They had a good series with Chicago after our series (a second-round win for the Kings) and the Rangers stepped up, too. So, we’re chasing a bunch of teams. That’s why we have to step up, (because) we’re behind a few teams.”

Here’s Murray on finding someone like Kings defenseman Drew Doughty:

You watch the Kings and you watched how Drew Doughty emerged as a superstar in the playoffs. Do we have someone who is that guy? Can you afford that guy if you find someone like that? It’s a huge decision, but how long do you wait?”

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Pre-NHL Awards Show reading: my ballot

Here’s my ballot, cast in the middle of April:

Hart Trophy: Sidney Crosby, PIT, Ryan Getzlaf, ANA, Claude Giroux, PHI, Semyon Varlamov, COL, Jonathan Toews, CHI.

Norris Trophy: Drew Doughty, LAK, Shea Weber, NSH. Duncan Keith, CHI, Ryan Suter, MIN, Zdeno Chara, BOS.

Calder Torphy: Nathan MacKinnon, COL, Jacob Trouba, WPG, Hampus Lindholm, ANA, Ondrej Palat, TBL, Frederik Andersen, ANA.

Byng Trophy: Ryan O’Reilly, COL, Matt Duchene, COL, Patrick Marleau, SJS, Tyler Seguin, DAL, David Krejci, BOS.

Selke Trophy: Anze Kopitar, LAK, Patrice Bergeron, BOS, David Backes, STL, Jonathan Toews, CHI, Andrew Cogliano, ANA.

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Willie Mitchell talks about what makes fellow Kings D-man Drew Doughty special

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty figures to get plenty of votes for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2014 playoffs. Here’s what teammate Willie Mitchell had to say Wednesday when asked what makes Doughty a special player: “His passion for the game. I’ve said it all along, there’s people who kind of thought he didn’t care enough or was too lax. But he just loves the game and loves to compete. … That’s his No. 1 attribute. He loves to come to the rink and he wants to make a difference every game and I really respect it.”

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Kings say they’ve learned from 2012 and will keep distractions to a minimum

The Kings had the New Jersey Devils down and out going into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2012 at Staples Center. The Kings led the series three games to none and were primed for a sweep. The Devils rallied with victories in Games 4 and 5 against the distracted Kings, who finally secured their first championship with a resounding victory in Game 6. The Kings vowed to avoid a repeat after taking a 3-0 series lead over the New York Rangers.

“Just basically the distractions last time were trying to get tickets for certain people, there weren’t enough tickets, stuff like that going on,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Wednesday. “Basically, we just talked about it as a group and just said let the families deal with it. Get your mom in charge, get your wife in charge, whatever it needs to be, and just completely forget about that rather than having to go out for breakfast with them, something like that.

“Just focus on the team.”

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Kings defenseman Drew Doughty says he’s ready to play Game 4 right now

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty seemed calm, cool and collected as he slumped in a folding chair during a formal news conference Tuesday. He answered questions with his customary honesty, admitting that he was a bundle of nerves with Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final more than 24 hours away.

“I can’t wait to get out there,” Doughty said. “It kind of sucks that the game is at 8 p.m., waiting around during the day. You just want to get out there. You don’t want to get overanxious at the same time. But it’s fun to play in these types of games. When the pressure’s at a high (level), you just want to go out there, play your best as a team, win games. Yeah, I just can’t wait to get out there, get warmups over, drop that first puck.”

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Kings captain Dustin Brown likes to see an emotional defenseman Drew Doughty

As long as he harnesses it the right way, Kings captain Dustin Brown said he likes it when defenseman Drew Doughty plays with emotion. Brown has spoken to Doughty about learning how to channel his anger in the right direction and making it work for him rather than against him. Here’s more from Brown:

“I think the emotion is awesome. He’s still learning how to use that emotion the right way. Sometimes people blow it up and say, ‘Oh, he’s so emotional.’ I think it’s great. There are other times and I’ve had talks with him. He understands it’s not an easy thing to do. He’s learning it. It’s something all players learn. I’ve learned.”

Here’s what Doughty had to say about playing mad and yelling at the referees at they missed seeing him get hit in the face with a stick in Game 1:

“I’m going to be upset if I get hit in the face. Maybe instead of yelling at them, I should just be talking to them or completely ignoring it, to be honest. I got frustrated. I probably wouldn’t have snapped if we didn’t get a penalty right after that happened. It may be that showing frustration to my teammates isn’t a good thing, but it makes me play better. I’ve got to fix it, but I like it at the same time. I’ve learned that. Losing it on the refs is the wrong thing to do. I don’t know why I still do it. I’ve got to fix it.”


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Darryl Sutter talks about the potential for growth in defenseman Drew Doughty

Kings coach Darryl Sutter fields questions almost daily about Drew Doughty’s remarkable progress. Someone asked Thursday whether Sutter believes he looks at the 24-year-old defenseman in a different way because he’s built some credibility with the coach.

“Plays a little more probably, for sure,” Sutter said. “Didn’t kill penalties. Now he kills penalties. Plays against top players a lot. He’s a young player. I think when you do all the analytics on athletes, he’s a long ways form being as good as he’s going to be just because of his age.”

Indeed, there’s still room for growth and improvement.

“Learn to manage your ice time better, learning to manage what’s going on, on the ice,” Sutter said when asked what Doughty could do better in the coming seasons. “You become a better shot selection guy. You become a better penalty killer.

“You learn the league better. You learn players on the other teams better. Nuances of start players. You learn how to handle your practice habits, nutrition, what you do on game days. All that stuff. What can he do better? As I said, there’s a big difference between being 25 and 35.”

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Drew Doughty’s sideways skating in Game 1 leaves Willie Mitchell a bit awestruck

Most NHL players can skate backwards without a great deal of trouble, although defensemen are generally better at retreating while watching the play in front of them than forwards. There’s no one who isn’t a good skater going forwards, although some are a little faster than others, especially with the puck on their stick.

But how about sideways?

Willie Mitchell marveled at fellow Kings defenseman Drew Doughty’s ability to move laterally with the puck while making a move that produced the tying goal in the second period of a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 on Wednesday night.

“There are very few defensemen in the league who can skate sideways,” Mitchell said. “If you watch that goal, he was pretty much skating sideways to make his little shuffle there. We all know probably one of the best defensemen ever to play the game, (Nicklas) Lidstrom, and how he could skate sideways. We’re fortunate enough to have a player of that magnitude to do that and he knew he had to do that to get us back in the game after the stuff early on.”

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Stanley Cup Final matchups (defense)

Drew Doughty of the Kings might merit greater consideration for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs if it weren’t for the remarkable 21-game run of Kopitar. Doughty is the Kings’ fifth-leading scorer in the postseason with 16 points (four goals, 12 assists). He plays in all situations and he’s elevated his play to the point that he’s put his stamp on most of the Kings’ postseason games. The Norris Trophy finalist plays in all situations and he excels to a degree that belies his 24 years. The Rangers do not have a defenseman who has a similar impact, although Ryan McDonagh should not be discounted as a player who fills a similar role for New York. It remains to be seen if veteran Robyn Regehr can return to the Kings’ lineup. He hasn’t played since he injured his knee during Game 1 of their second-round series against the Ducks. Matt Greene has filled in for Regehr.

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Kings winning in the playoffs with an effective power play. No, no, really

By now you probably know that Jake Muzzin, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown scored to give the Kings a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period as they roared to a 5-2 victory Monday over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. Muzzin and Brown scored on the power play.

What you might not know is that the Kings’ power play improved to 16 for 56 (28.6 percent) over the last 16 playoff games, dating to Game 3 of their first-round victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Kings’ power play clicked at a meager 15.1 percent during the regular season, 27th-best in the NHL.

“We’re trying to simplify it a little bit,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said of the rejuvenated power play. “We’re just trying to get pucks up to the D-men, trying to get shots that way. My mentality on the first one, just kind of get a shot off, a one-timer, no matter what it was. If it hits the guy, it hits the guy. Just want to get that in their heads, that we’re going to be shooting pucks. The more you shoot, the more other things open up. We took advantage of those things.”


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