Although the Kings have one of the strongest defensive units in the Western Conference – if not the top group overall – there are certainly a few questions going on at the moment.
Following the team’s morning skate, Doughty, Voynov and coach Terry Murray weighed in with comments…
Doughty on his health – “Everything has gotten a lot better (in the last few days). I haven’t been able to shoot yet – which is obviously a key part to the game. So, I need to get that back. I’ve made really fast progress though and I’m happy with how much better it’s gotten. I really want to play because it’s almost harder being hurt than playing. You work a lot harder in the gym than on the ice. So, it’s pretty frustrating at the same time.”
As for his replacement, Doughty said that Voynov “has been great” for the Kings.
Murray agreed, adding – “(Voynov’s) play with the puck, his composure and his attitude about going after it and being aggressive on the offensive part of the game, is something that I’ve always liked in players, and he’s bringing that.”
Which, naturally, leads to the obvious question – is there a chance Voynov will stay up with the Kings when Doughty is ready to return?
Murray didn’t have quite as much to say about that question – deferring to issues like rules on call-ups, the salary cap and similar factors. Thus, he thinks management will play a key role in such a decision.
That said, should Martinez or Drewiske be concerned?
“I can’t answer for that,” Murray said, before quickly adding – “From what I remember in my (playing) days, you’re always concerned whenever a player comes up and plays well. You want to be a player and you want to be in the line-up. With Doughty out of the line-up, that was the reason for (Voynov getting called up). He’s a player who brings us minutes in those special team situations. If it had been, touch wood, Matt Greene out of the line-up because of an injury, Drewiske would have been in the line-up – with that big body, a defensive-defenseman.”
And what about Martinez specifically, he was recently scratched for a game? Murray said his play has looked “a little better” since then and he’s wanting the second-year pro to ‘pick up the tempo and the intensity.’
Speaking with a thick Russian accent, Voynov said – “I feel great. Every game I feel better, better and better.”
Like every rookie, he also noted the speed of the game, as well – “It’s so much faster. You need to move the puck quicker, think quicker and do everything quicker.”
One thing that’s moving along a little slower is Doughty’s recovery, as Murray was a little hesitant to say exactly when he might return.
“I don’t know. We’ll bring him in and get a talk with our medical staff after today. We’re going to have a day off tomorrow, but he’s going to come in and get another off-ice workout, and probably on the ice also. So, we’ll keep pushing it. But, we’re going to make sure that he’s 100-percent strong before getting going. I would anticipate this coming week, in my mind, that he’ll get into a game. Whether it’s in the middle or toward the end, I don’t know. But, I think everything should be in pretty good shape by the end of this next week.”
We’ll have some more Dallas vs. LA pre-game notes later this afternoon.
Also, be sure to listen to The Fourth Period radio show on NHL Home Ice (Sirus 207, XM 92) today at 3pm PST. I’ll be on to talk about the key stories surrounding the Kings right now – including the defense, the goaltending, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar and more.