Sep 25, 2013, 5:49 PM EST
“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Los Angeles Kings, we pick… defenseman Drew Doughty.
First, let’s be perfectly clear — there might not be a team under less pressure than the L.A. Kings, and there’s nothing wrong with the way Doughty played last year. The 23-year-old logged the third-most minutes in the NHL, finished second on the Kings in d-man scoring and finished ninth in Norris Trophy voting. By most player’s standards, that’s a pretty solid campaign.
But Doughty isn’t most players.
He set expectations sky high during his sophomore campaign in 2009-10. Doughty scored a career-best 59 points, earned a spot on the NHL’s second All-Star team and was a Norris finalist.
Offensively speaking, Los Angeles needs him to get back to that level.
The Kings admitted 2013 was something of a letdown campaign, even though they made it to the Western Conference final. Doughty lamented the lack of offense (2.06 goals per game) in the playoffs — “we’re not scoring more than two goals a game, we’re only getting a few, and that’s why we’re losing,” he said — and captain Dustin Brown said he felt like they left something on the table.
“We didn’t play up to our potential and we made it the Western Conference Final,” he told NHL.com. “I don’t think that’s a surprise, but in a roundabout way it’s a positive out of a negative.
“We were one of the final four teams and I don’t think we played anywhere near to our potential.”
So, back to Doughty.
He’ll be under pressure to up his production — a tall order considering how well he played last year, but appropriate given he’s the club’s highest-paid player at $7 million a season.
To do that, he’ll need to reverse his downward scoring trend. Since averaging 0.72 points per game during his stellar ’09-10 season, Doughty has seen that average drop to 0.53 (2010-11), 0.47 (2011-12) and 0.46 (2013).
Last season also marked just the second time in four years Doughty didn’t lead the Kings in d-man scoring. That went to Slava Voynov, who finished with 25 points.
There’s also pressure on a larger scale. Doughty’s Kings are determined to get back to the Stanley Cup final, and he’s all but assured of a spot on Team Canada’s Olympic team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. So in addition to re-capturing Lord Stanley’s mug, he’s also going to be responsible for defending Olympic gold.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:34 AM EST
Ugly start for Vancouver vs. Dallas.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:23 AM EST
Worth staying up late for East Coast hockey fans.
Mar 7, 2014, 12:41 AM EST
He did it with style, too.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:32 PM EST
They might want to stay off of Twitter.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:50 PM EST
He should provide commentary to as many Vancouver games as possible.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:38 PM EST
Jhonas Enroth is making the most of his opportunity, to say the least.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:21 PM EST
This one looks painful.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:06 PM EST
Boston shut them out 3-0 on Thursday.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:56 PM EST
Plenty of talent on the ice for this late one.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:48 PM EST
It’s unclear how severe the injury is.
Mar 6, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
No one will wear No. 5 in Detroit again.
Mar 6, 2014, 7:56 PM EST
Injuries make him a key player instantly with Red Wings.
Mar 6, 2014, 7:46 PM EST
No denying whose team it is now, anyway.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:27 PM EST
He’s expected to line up with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk.
Mar 6, 2014, 5:28 PM EST
Mar 6, 2014, 5:07 PM EST
George McPhee “likes” this.
Mar 6, 2014, 4:51 PM EST
He’s eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame this year too.
Mar 6, 2014, 4:31 PM EST
High hopes in St. Louis with Ryan Miller between the pipes.
Mar 6, 2014, 3:52 PM EST
All the latest from around the crease…
Mar 6, 2014, 3:51 PM EST
Signed through 2016-17 with a cap hit of $4.5 million.
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 13
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 19
- Sabres spoil Callahan’s Lightning debut, Stamkos’ return 1
- Dealing with the Devils: NHL reverses Kovalchuk punishment 47
- Playoff bubble watch — Rangers edition 14
- Video: Emotional day for Martin St. Louis ends in OT loss for Rangers 27
- Video: Caps, Flyers engage in another line brawl 53
- PHT’s 2014 Trade Deadline Tracker 28
- Winners and losers of the 2014 trade deadline 48
- Montreal wins Vanek sweepstakes (Updated) 46
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Sabres send Miller, Ott to Blues for package including Halak, Stewart (74)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)