After hibernating in London, Ontario during most of the NHL lockout Drew Doughty came into this season refreshed, renewed and re-committed to becoming a Norris Trophy finalist once again.
It wasn’t something that went unnoticed by his teammates during training camp either, with guys like Rob Scuderi and Dustin Brown remarking about several changes in Doughty beyond just his new lighter weight.
Eleven games in though, things haven’t exactly gone as planned. At best, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
“I think my defensive game has gotten a lot better,” Doughty told MayorsManor. “I feel strong and I’m making big hits this year actually.”
Although he began the season saying he’d put weight back on if he didn’t feel comfortable on the ice once the games began, Doughty reports that hasn’t been an issue thus far.
“I think the weight has been fine,” he said. “I feel good conditionally and I’ve obviously played a lot of minutes, so it’s good.”
And then things turned ugly.
“I know I’m minus-10 though. But a lot of times that stat doesn’t have a lot to do with what you’re doing on the ice and stuff like that.”
Well, if the stat can be confusing, which is the real Doughty? The guy who lead the Kings in plus-minus during the playoffs last season or the minus-10 version in 2013?
Plus, there’s also the matter of goals. Simply put, he hasn’t scored one yet.
As an offensive-defenseman, and somebody expected to help carry the load for LA, what’s bothering him more – the zero goals or the double-digit negative number in the other column?
“Definitely minus ten,” Doughty said with authority. “The goal situation; that’s going to come. I’ve had a lot of great chances this year and it’s just not going in and I know it’s just a matter of time when the first one gets popped then the ball gets rolling. But, the minus ten? I pride myself on good defense, always have. Especially with the new role I’ve had to take on, I expect myself to be better with it. Like I said, it’s a crappy stat. Some goals have definitely been my fault, but at the same time, some of them haven’t. So it’s frustrating, but I just gotta forget about it and build my way back up.”
Coach Darry Sutter took more of a philosophical approach when asked about Doughty’s struggles on Wednesday.
“He’s a young defenseman, so what has changed?” Sutter began. “He’s got a lot to learn. No different than all the rest. Our oldest defenseman is Scuderi who is supposed to be a real good defensive player. Our next oldest is Drewiske. He’s 28 and learning how to play. And the other guys are all kids. Don’t single Drew Doughty out as the only player that has got a lot to learn. He’s been put in a different situation this year than he has at any other point in his career.”
Then, using his knack for stating the obvious, Sutter summed it up perfectly.
“He has to clearly play better in his own zone. That’s not really a surprise.”
No coach, it isn’t.
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