Drew Doughty spoke with the LA Kings media after the win on Thursday, indicating the day off aided in him getting back on the ice.
En route to their defeat against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, the LA Kings were caught holding their collective breaths as veteran defenseman Drew Doughty left the game and did not return. Doughty had blocked a shot and injured his forearm as a result.
While their shootout loss to the Sharks was disappointing in itself, the uncertainty of Drew Doughty’s status only added to Tuesday night’s misery.
As of the time of the Kings’ post-game media call, there was no word on Doughty’s status, but there remained palpable concern that the Norris Trophy winner may be sidelined for a significant amount of time.
To the relief of the Kings and their fanbase, Doughty was only listed as day-to-day. Even better, when the Kings had their rematch with San Jose on Thursday, No. 8 was back in the lineup.
Even better, Doughty helped propel the Kings to arguably their best performance of the season to date, notching three assists in a convincing 6-2 victory.
Following Thursday’s win, Doughty spoke to the media and was asked how he was feeling and even touched on missing practice on Thursday.
“I’m feeling good,” Doughty assured. “It was nice for [the training and coaching staff] to give me the day yesterday and be able to get ready for tonight. In this [shortened season], all that really matters is the games. Obviously, practice is important but when you’re playing every other, you’ve just got to be ready for the game. So, that was good that the training staff and the coaches allowed me to do that and help me through it all yesterday. So, I was ready to go today.”
In spite of his reputation as being one of the top defensemen in the game, Doughty was modest in his contributions on Thursday.
“I felt good and honestly, I just passed the puck to some guys and they put it in the net,” the blueliner added. “So, it was all them, not me.”
Back on Jan. 28, Doughty had one of his finest games in recent memory.
While the LA Kings ultimately lost the game, Doughty’s efforts were nonetheless exemplary against the Minnesota Wild. Scoring a goal and an assist, the two-time Stanley Cup winner logged an unfathomable 32:21 minutes of ice time. Following Thursday’s victory, though, Doughty was asked if his performance against the Sharks was better than said game against the Wild.
“Honestly, no,” the 31-year-old responded. “I was fighting the puck, the ice was crap, the puck was rolling on me a lot. Therefore, I wasn’t able to make the plays I’m usually able to make. I thought I was all right tonight but I did not think it was even close to that game in Minnesota, but the team was so much better tonight that maybe it appeared that way.”
As for what led to the win against San Jose, a fast, strong start was crucial for the LA Kings — and that is exactly what they had.
“Yeah, the start was important,” Doughty said. “Even the first shift, we had a lot of– the coaches just put a lot of attention on that first shift because we gave one up on the first shift last game. So, we wanted to have a good start and after we did have that first good shift, the lines just kept rolling and rolling over and we kept them in their own zone a few times and got a three-goal lead, I believe, in the first. So, it was all good.”
There have been times when he could be — and was, frankly — criticized for his decision-making but whatever concerns were broached, no one can deny Drew Doughty’s heart and his commitment, especially as a leader of a rebuilding team who hasn’t been able to celebrate a plethora of success in recent years.
What initially looked like a long-term injury turned into a minor setback that saw Doughty jump right back into the lineup the very next game.
When all is said and done, Drew Doughty will be remembered as one of the greatest LA Kings of all-time. Never mind his accomplishments but it is the veteran’s aforementioned heart, commitment as well as his loyalty, determination and sheer leadership that help No. 8 stand above the rest when the chips are down.
A three-assist night; that’s great. An iron will; that’s even better. Here’s to more from the Kings’ great No. 8.