As we reflect on the LA Kings’ 2020-21 campaign, one of the club’s biggest highlights has been the successful duo of Drew Doughty and Mikey Anderson.
While his exit interview this past Friday was known to be brutally honest, Drew Doughty‘s candor wasn’t all about challenging the LA Kings to be a better team. The 2016 Norris Trophy winner also dedicated some time to speak about rookie defenseman Mikey Anderson, who really came into his own this season, spending the vast majority of the campaign as Doughty’s defensive partner.
The topic of playing with the rookie was broached when the veteran blueliner was asked whether he wants the Kings to acquire a defensive partner for him.
“No, I don’t want someone [new]. I like playing with Mikey Anderson,” a matter-of-fact Doughty said. “I love playing with Mikey Anderson. We’ve developed quite the partnership. I mean, I don’t think [the Kings] need to bring in anyone in to play with me.”
Doughty continued, elaborating on how impressed he was with the 21-year-old this season.
“Well, the one thing with Mikey is that this guy’s like already talking in our dressing room at intermission,” the 31-year-old noted. “He’s already one of the more vocal– probably one of the top three vocal guys on our team already, and to say that about a young guy like that, that’s basically unheard of. Mikey’s a great pro already. I mean, many years above what his age actually is and, you know, at first, we kind of clicked right away going together, and then obviously there’s some things that we need to work on together and communication, and positioning, and stuff like that, and then once we got that, I thought we were buzzing. I know we were, like, minus-10 in the last 10 [games] or whatever but– and that wasn’t due to how we were playing. We were playing good hockey together, we were playing sound defensively, making great breakout plays. The only thing I’ve got to help Mikey with is [to] make sure when he’s eating that puck, he doesn’t smack his face off the glass. So, we’re gonna work on that this summer.”
As for the Kings’ defensive corps as a whole, the two-time Stanley Cup champion admitted that things are great the way they are.
“I don’t know if you necessarily need to bring anyone on in on defense,” Doughty said without hesitation. “I think our defense is solid. I really like where we’re at, I like our young guys, I like our middle-of-the-pack veteran guys.”
As is the case with any rebuilding team, some games are harder to watch than others from a performance standpoint — or, rather, lack thereof. While the chemistry between any two players is an achievement in itself, a case involving Drew Doughty is especially noteworthy.
Despite his array of accomplishments since entering the league in 2008, Doughty has been hard-pressed to find a consistently reliable defensive partner more or less since the silver-and-black last won the Stanley Cup in 2014. While no disrespect is intended towards those who have played alongside the veteran defenseman, Doughty has nonetheless had his challenges in clicking with a full-time linemate. To his pleasure, and maybe even his surprise and relief, it looks as though Los Angeles’s great No. 8 has found one in Mikey Anderson.
While the 2020-21 season began with a plethora of unanswered questions overall, the Kings had a few of their own with the potential overall performance of Anderson being one of them. That wasn’t a slight to the Minnesota-Duluth alum but rather natural ambivalence towards a player whose NHL experience consisted of just six games. Nevertheless, Anderson took the opportunity this season to thrive alongside a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in Doughty.
The LA Kings may have a fair bit of work to do this offseason to improve in 2021-22, but the team is nonetheless headed in the right direction. The pairing of Drew Doughty and Mikey Anderson is a significant reason for the club’s positive trajectory towards the future. So, while more growing pains may not make fans eager for the new season, the solid play of Doughty and Anderson will — and it is something worth emphasizing a few more strokes of silver to in the Kings’ lining.