What we learned from the Kings’ 2-1 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday:
1. If Drew Doughty played for a team on the East Coast or in the Midwest, he would have won the Norris Trophy long ago and would be widely mentioned as a top candidate this season.
He should be at the top of the list, and he continued to prove his value as a game-changer Tuesday. He scored the tying goal, drew a penalty that gave the Kings a late power play and made a defensive play that prevented a Vancouver odd-man rush while playing a season-high 31 minutes and 40 seconds.
Last week, General Manager Dean Lombardi said Doughty and Jake Muzzin could become even better than they are, and called them the pillars of the defense.
“I don’t think those guys have reached their potential yet. They’re just entering their prime,” Lombardi said. “Particularly defensemen, they don’t really start getting it until 26, 27.”
Doughty will celebrate his 26th birthday next Tuesday, but he’s not getting a gift of new front teeth to replace the two top-front false teeth that were recently knocked out. He said the replacements aren’t scheduled to be ready until New Year’s.
He agreed he can become a better player. “I’m only 25 years old. I turn 26 in a few days and I have so much more to learn, and so much more to experience,” he said. “I know I haven’t reached my potential. I don’t know if I can ever reach that potential but I know I do have a lot more in me and a lot more improving to do and I can become a lot better hockey player.”
2. Anze Kopitar is looking a little more like his old, productive self. His overtime goal, set up on an excellent pass from Jeff Carter, was his sixth career overtime goal in the NHL, lifting him past Ziggy Palffy and Luc Robitaille for the most in club history. And any time you can get Ziggy Palffy’s name into a story, it’s a good day. Kopitar has a goal and three points in his last two games, both wins by the Kings.
3. The Kings were only one for six on the power play Tuesday, but the good aspect of that, from their point of view, was that they got six power plays. They’ve ranked near the bottom of the NHL in power-play opportunities and hadn’t had six in a game since the season opener, when they were 0 for six against San Jose in a 5-1 loss.
They’ve had two power-play goals in a game only once this season, when they were two for four at San Jose on Oct. 22. They rank 17th in the NHL with an 18.9% success rate.