Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has a Norris Trophy resume without actually having won the award as the NHL's top defenseman. But this season, the Kings wanted even more from Doughty, apart from his on-ice contributions.
They needed someone to help fill the leadership void caused by the departures of a quartet of veterans from their 2014 Stanley Cup championship team.
Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways and in the Kings' come-from-behind victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, Doughty played a key role.
With the Kings trailing by a goal in the third period, Doughty took a hit to the head from Mike Brown. But instead of retaliating against Brown, Doughty took it out on the Sharks, scoring on a power play.
"I was happy because I was upset when he hit me in the face," Doughty said Tuesday. "Haven't seen it personally, whether it was an elbow or a shoulder, but it was right in the head. I was upset about it. Because it was him, too, it made me even more upset because that's kind of the way he plays."
The incident not only resulted in the Doughty goal but also provided a spark for the rest of the game.
"It kind of woke me up because I don't think I was playing too good until that point," he said. "Right before the puck even dropped, after the penalty, right away that's what you're thinking, 'I want to do something to get back at them.' You almost dream of it real quick. It ended up going the way I dreamt it. It was kind of cool."
And keeping your cool is not always easy.
"Hockey is an emotional game," Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said. "You can't play without emotion. You take one to the jaw or to the face … I don't care who you are, it's probably going to fire you up. I don't know many people who are just OK with that.
"It's no secret what kind of player Drew is. He plays with emotion and that's what everyone's got to do. He responded absolutely the right way."
Doughty's contributions fell into the "also scoring" category after center Vinny Lecavalier tied the score in the last 12 seconds and Marian Gaborik won it in overtime. Doughty has nine goals and 27 points in 48 games. Of the nine goals, seven have come on the power play.
"That gave us confidence because we were in a little bit of a slide, not playing our game the two previous games before that," Doughty said. "It was a big win. A big momentum booster and confidence booster. We've got to carry that into the next game and into the break."
The Kings have a 30-15-3 record, good for 63 points and first place in the Pacific Division. They reached the 30-victory milestone in the fewest games in franchise history.
Their previous record was 51 games, achieved in the 1980-81 and 2005-06 seasons. Statistically, the biggest difference has been their ability to win games in overtime, where they are 7-1.
KINGS VS. COLORADO
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: 790.
Update: Colorado Coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post in San Jose that No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov, who is in Denver because of legal matters, would not join the team in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Goalie Calvin Pickard has been ailing, so the Avalanche recalled goalie Roman Will from its minor league affiliate in San Antonio.