U.S.-Canada semifinal to turn Kings’ Olympians into rivals
SOCHI, Russia -- Back home in Los Angeles, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown are the best of friends, a bond that was strengthened during the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup run.
Here in Sochi, their friendship will be temporarily suspended Friday when Doughty and his Canadian teammates face Quick and Brown and the rest of Team USA in the Olympic hockey tournament semifinals.
Make no mistake: Doughty -- a member of the Canadian team that defeated the U.S. in the Vancouver Olympic final four years ago -- very much wants to beat his Kings teammates.
“Big time. We want those bragging rights for the rest of the season. For the rest of your life, really,” he said Thursday after Team Canada’s practice.
“I’m really close with both those guys, Quickie and Brownie. It’s going to be fun [Friday]. I want to beat them so badly. We’re big rivals, us and the U.S., especially after the last Olympics. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Doughty said he ran into Quick in the dining hall at the athletes’ village and they chatted.
“I’m looking forward to playing him. We were talking about it going down to a shootout and hopefully I shot,’’ Doughty said.
Doughty also said he hopes he doesn’t run into Brown in the literal sense.
“I know when he gets on the train tracks he’s going to hit pretty hard, so I’m not going to be looking to get hit by him,” Doughty said. “I’ll try to be dodging that but I’m going to be feeding it back to him.”
But Doughty is in a good position to provide his Canadian mates with a scouting report on Quick. He knows very well, based on the Kings’ 2012 success, how formidable Quick can be when the pressure is on and a title is on the line.
“When he gets hot, when he makes some big saves early, he seems to become unbeatable,” Doughty said. “And that’s why we’ve got to get one early on him. The only way we’re going to score on him is we’ve got to get pucks up high and we’ve got to get screens in front and tips. He’s going to make the easy saves every time. So it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
He also said playing an opponent with a similar style should help Team Canada’s production, which has come in for some criticism. Canada hasn’t been able to find wingers to complement Sidney Crosby and has scored 13 goals in four games, an average of 3.25. The U.S. has scored 20 in four games, including one goal awarded for its shootout victory over Russia.
“We’re going to be pretty similar,” Doughty said. “A lot of people are worried about us not scoring and stuff like that, but against a North American team, I think this is where we’ll really pick it up and show how well we can score. Guys are going to step up to the plate, put pucks in the net. And they’re going to have guys that are flying too. We match up really well against each other. And I think it’s going to be the best game of the tournament.”
Canada and Kings winger Jeff Carter also had praise for Quick. “When he’s on his game, he’s one of the best in the game,” Carter said. “He’s such a confident guy that he gets rolling and it’s pretty tough to beat him. We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
Carter was asked if he will tell the referees to keep a close eye on Quick, a reference to a claim by Russia and Kings defenseman Slava Voynov that Quick deliberately dislodged the net from its moorings to negate an apparent Russian goal during a preliminary-round game.
“Yeah,” Carter said, smiling, “that’s right on top of my list.”