Yesterday we posted the first in a series that will run here on MayorsManor over the next few days. Each LA Kings player was asked for their personal high and low points of the season. Davis Drewiske kicked things off (here) and now we go all the way to the other end of the blueline for a chat with the Kings top defenseman, Drew Doughty.
There’s no denying that the former Norris Trophy candidate has played his best hockey during the second half of the season. It’s the ‘why’ than can be debated. After signing a new contract and re-joining the team just hours before they left for a season-opening trip to Europe, Doughty came out strong in the first few games. Then, he had some setbacks and the questions immediately began to surface about what impact missing training camp might came have. Just don’t forget, other factors were at play too.
“The low point was probably getting hurt early on in the season, separating my shoulder,” Doughty said. “High point? I think ever since Darryl (Sutter) got here, I think I’ve been playing a lot better. So, that’s probably the high point for me.”
Soon after Sutter’s hiring, Doughty was on MayorsManor and praised his new coach’s communication style. Is that the primary reason his play has improved?
“He really demands a lot out of me. I can play a great game and make that one mistake and he’s all over me for it. So, I think him just being on me at all times and expecting the best out of me, that pushes me to be my best and not mess up.”
That aggressive approach hasn’t been isolated to just Doughty, it seems to have permeated the entire team on the ice as well.
“He coaches a lot differently,” Doughty began. “First, as defenseman, sometimes if you’re too quick on pucks and rushing at guys, that’s when they take advantage of things. It took a little bit of adjusting when he first came here. But, now I think we’ve figured it out. His style of play, just being on pucks quicker and being to your man quicker, I think that creates a lot more turnovers and a lot more breakouts for us…Before, I think we were giving teams a lot more room. And if you give really good players a lot of room and time with the puck, they’re going to make plays. Now that we’re on them quicker, they kind of panic and make plays they don’t want to make.”
As for tonight, number-8 clearly has his eyes on the prize. When I asked for a comment about the big match-up versus the Sharks, he got right to the point…
“We definitely want to do whatever we can to knock them out of the playoff picture. We want third place and that’s what we’re going to play for. These two games mean a lot – not only for third place, but just being able to push a team of that caliber out of the playoffs would be a big momentum boost for us.”
He also went on to say…
“They’ve played us hard and we always expect a (tough) game against them. We’ve built that rivalry with them, especially losing to them in the playoffs last year. As a team, we match up well against them. They have those two really big lines that put up a lot of points for them. But, at the same time, we have four great lines, six great D on the back end and a great goalie. I think throughout the whole team we match up well against them.”
Prior to that playoff series last year, Doughty had shared some of his memories (and concerns) vs. the Sharks – including his very first game against them. You can read that article here.
MayorsManor LIVE show April 4, 2012 – with Nick Nickson, Jamie Kompon, Jeremy Roenick and a ‘best Kings dman’ debate