Kings defenseman Drew Doughty keeps things colorful
Even on the Drew Doughty scale of entertainment, the week registered high.
During pregame warmups against the Winnipeg Jets, he accidentally high-sticked teammate Anze Kopitar in a burst of exuberance. The video went viral.
After the Kings’ trip ended in Edmonton, Doughty went on the postgame program for “Hockey Night in Canada” and revisited an amusing anecdote about running into Wayne Gretzky in a restroom.
The quote isn’t quite appropriate for print, but both instances are classic Doughty: unfiltered. Asked whether he’s changed, Doughty said no.
That goes for hockey too. All Doughty did was spend the week defending world-class players Patrik Laine, Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid. He again leads the NHL in total ice time and is eight games short of Kopitar’s franchise-record of 330 consecutive games played. It’s an incredible run of durability sometimes overlooked because of Doughty’s passion.
“Every time guys go into the corner, they’re going to finish on him because they know how important he is to their team,” said Eric Staal, a Minnesota Wild forward who has played with Doughty internationally for Canada.
“He probably takes a lot of hits and a lot more things that some other guys do. For a guy to be able to play that much and be in the lineup every night, that means he’s playing through things at times, and he’s laying it on the line. I have a lot of respect for players like that.”
Doughty is on track to be the NHL’s ice-time leader for the second straight season. But he said it doesn’t feel like it’s a lot, nor does he keep track of that statistic. He’s willing to say the obvious, that the more he’s on the ice, the better it is for the Kings.
“I just want to play more and I do feel like our team is better when I do play more,” Doughty said. “So it’s not like it’s a pride thing. I shouldn’t say I expect to play that many minutes because that’s not the right thing to say — but I’m kind of used to it at this point. I just want to play more because I feel like I make a difference out there.”
Doughty said there is no such thing as easing his workload because so much of his time is spent against the NHL’s top lines, and he’s a part of the Kings’ No. 1-ranked penalty-killing unit. It helped some when Dion Phaneuf joined the Kings, but Doughty still averages nearly 27 minutes per game.
“He’s a freak,” said Derek Forbort, a frequent defense partner with Doughty. “The guy can come off a two-hour bus ride and go out there and play 30 minutes.”
The Kings just want Doughty ready for the six-game playoff push. It starts Monday, and the Kings won’t have to leave Southern California the rest of the regular season. Assuming Doughty continues the streak, he will have not missed a game since 2014.
Kopitar’s record will have to wait until next season, but earlier this season, Doughty called out those who doubted he’d get this far with his conditioning.
“I’ve been kind of [criticized] my whole career for not being in shape and being one of the guys who’s the worst in shape on the team,” he said. “To be able to put that many string of games together kind of shows that I’m doing something right off the ice.”
When: Monday, 7:30 p.m. PDT.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: Calgary’s leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau will miss the game because of personal reasons, the Calgary Herald reported. The Flames already shut down injured Sean Monahan for the season, and Matthew Tkachuk and T.J. Brodie reportedly did not make the trip because of upper-body injuries. Calgary has lost five straight games by a combined score of 25-7.
Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @curtiszupke
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