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.
Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr didn’t hesitate when asked Thursday to compare current partner Drew Doughty with anyone he’s played with in the past. Regehr praised Doughty’s all-around game by comparing him to Scott Niedermayer, the now retired former Duck and New Jersey Devil.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said Wednesday he believes goaltender Jonathan Quick is making more remarkable saves than he did last year in the playoffs, when he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the postseason. Here’s more from Doughty:
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture grew up together and played hockey with and against each other in London, Ontario. They remained friends and foes going into Game 1 of the second-round playoff series.
The Kings proved last spring home-ice advantage means nothing in the playoffs, becoming the first eighth-seeded team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup. They didn’t have home-ice advantage for any of the four rounds of the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they want or expect a repeat this spring, according to defenseman Drew Doughty.
“Even though we didn’t need it last year, it’s definitely very important and something that our team really wants,” he said. “The coaches have been harping on us to get that home-ice spot. We kind of blew it the last two games … but we still have a shot at it. We want it. To be able to sleep in your own bed, to be able to be in front of our home fans … it’s hard to go into another team’s barn when the crowd’s going nuts for them and you’ve got to try and steal the first win. But if you’re at home, not that it’s easier, but it’s more comforting.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets weren’t happy to see their five-game winning streak end with a 2-1 loss to the Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center. The Kings weren’t thrilled with the end of the game, when the Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky took what they believed to be a few liberties with defenseman Drew Doughty after the final buzzer. TV replays indicated Doughty initiated the confrontation with a punch as Dubinsky had his back turned. Dubinsky then threw a series of punches at Doughty, drawing a match penalty.
“Just a cheap shot, and that’s his personality” Kings enforcer Kyle Clifford said of Dubinsky’s actions. “We’ve got guys out there and he goes after Doughty, who’s not our toughest player, not the smartest thing. But we got the win.”
The evolution of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty continued Saturday night at Staples Center. The numbers might not reflect it, but years from now Doughty might very well look back on the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season as a turning point in his career.
Doughty went into the Kings’ game against the rival Ducks with four goals and 14 assists in 41 games, off the pace for last season’s 10 goals and 26 assists in 77 games. He admitted it bothered him to see his production slow to only a trickle.
Late-night reading …
It was a goaltenders’ duel at times, a test of wills at others, and frequently a bone-jarring matchup of teams looking ahead to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Mostly, though, it was a game in which a bounce here and a deflection there determined the outcome.
The Kings squeezed past the Ducks 2-1 by the barest of margins, with Mike Richards slotting a perfectly-placed shot into the back of the net for the decisive goal late in the second period Saturday night at Staples Center.
Drew Doughty figures he’s been paired with every Kings defenseman at one point or another this season except Slava Voynov. He’s played with Robyn Regehr steadily since Regehr was acquired in a trade earlier this month from the Buffalo Sabres. Doughty talked Saturday about their union and how their strengths mesh. Doughty talked about the player he’s likely to form a shut-down tandem with for the upcoming playoffs.
“Robyn’s kind of strictly defense,” he said. “He’s not going to jump up in the play. It gives me the opportunity to jump up every time I can. He’s always back there, solid. For the most part, I noticed he’s going to make the simple play. He’s not going to make that saucer pass over a stick or anything like that. He’s either going to go straight up to a winger (with a pass) or over to me. I want the puck in my hands as much as I can have it, and if he’s going to keep giving it to me, I love that. So far, we’ve worked really well together and I think as we get used to play with each other we’re going to get better and better.”