Kings coach Darryl Sutter made it clear defenseman Drew Doughty is quite a ways from being one of the NHL’s best defenseman. Not that he isn’t making strides, mind you, but Sutter outlined the coaching staff’s approach to putting Doughty on the path to success. Said Sutter: ”Tried to cut his minutes back. It doesn’t sound like much, by two or three a game, which should help his energy level. Trying to get him to be on the ice for fewer goals against and trying to get him on the ice for more goals five-on-five. Trying to get him to be a better penalty-killer. He’s done a good job on our power play. But you’ve got to be the whole package (to be considered a Norris Trophy candidate).”
Right wing Justin Williams talked about it after the Kings’ 5-2 victory Saturday over the Dallas Stars at Staples Center. Defenseman Jake Muzzin addressed it, too. So did defenseman Drew Doughty after he scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Kings’ fifth victory in their last six games. None of the three needed prompting.
Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
One of these nights, one of the Kings’ centers will actually put the puck into the back of the net. Until they do, until one of them actually scores a goal, the Kings will have to settle for some effective playmaking from Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and company.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty spoke Thursday about the allure of playing the first outdoor hockey game in Southern California, on Jan. 25 against the Ducks at Dodger Stadium. Doughty is a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, but that doesn’t make the upcoming game at Dodger Stadium any less exciting. He admitted he might feel nervous about playing in front of 55,000 people, far more fans that have ever watched him play before.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards are going camping with Team Canada. They have been invited to an Olympic orientation camp Aug. 25-28 in Calgary. Doughty and Richards were among 15 players who represented Canada for the 2010 Vancouver Games, winning gold. Team Canada sent out 47 invitations. Steve Yzerman, a former Detroit Red Wings great, is the executive director the Olympic team. Mike Babcock, the Red Wings’ coach, was named Monday as the Canadian coach.
As expected, the NHL and the players union reached an agreement with the IIHF on Friday morning to send players to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The NHL will take a break from Feb. 9 to Feb. 26. The Olympic tournament will be held Feb. 12-23.
The NHL announced its season-ending first- and second-team All-Stars.
Goalie: Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus.
Defense: P.K. Subban, Montreal, Ryan Suter, Minnesota.
Center: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh.
Right wing: Alex Ovechkin, Washington.
Left wing: Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh.
Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist, N.Y. Rangers.
Defense: Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim, Kris Letang, Pittsburgh.
Center: Jonathan Toews, Chicago.
Right wing: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay.
Left wing: Alex Ovechkin, Washington.
That’s right, Ovechkin made the first and the second team at different positions. As one of my colleagues noted on Twitter, “Ovechkin’s all over the ice.” The Kings’ Drew Doughty (ninth among defensemen), Slava Voynov (23rd among defensemen), Anze Kopitar (tied for 11th among centers) and Jeff Carter (tied for 11th among right wings) also received votes from members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. I’m a member, but I voted for Ovechkin at right wing, which was where he played this past season for the Capitals. Others voted for him at left wing, where’s he’s played in the past.
Here’s the second installment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s post-season meeting with reporters, two days after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference finals by the Chicago Blackhawks:
Question: It seems this was a tougher coaching job for you this year because you didn’t have the consistency of the lineup, you started out without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene …
Answer: “I think if we go down the league, every coach will say that through a 48-game schedule. It’s something I’ve done before, so you have some familiarity with it. Whether it helps or not, I don’t know. But at least you’re familiar with it. Was it tougher? Sure, it was tougher, because … Our players were awesome. There was no hangover. There was only positives taken from it. Obviously, the only negative from a short summer last year was the guys didn’t start the year. Greene, Mitchell, (Anze) Kopitar and, quite honestly, Jonathan (Quick) until probably January or February.”
Drew Doughty of the Kings, whose role was expanded greatly during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, finished ninth in voting for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens was the winner, with Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild second and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins third. Doughty played in all manner of roles this past season and teamed with Robyn Regehr to form the Kings’ shutdown pair for the stretch run of the regular season and the playoffs.
Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
The Kings’ reign as Stanley Cup champions didn’t end with a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals. But you certainly could see the finish line from where they teetered Thursday night at Staples Center.