Kings leaning on Drew Doughty’s game management skills
The Kings’ steadiest player might also be their most dynamic, as Drew Doughty has remained a leader in time on ice and a leader of men, as well as an outspoken personality with the desire to take over games.
He recently discussed his role as a tone-setter and someone capable of placing the team on his back. On Friday, Kings coach Todd McLellan spoke to the value of Doughty’s willingness to shoulder responsibility and his sound awareness when it came to the various facets of game management.
“That’s experience, that’s hockey sense, that’s having a good feel for what’s going on in the game like he has,” McLellan said.
While Doughty has always been laid back outwardly, on the ice he displays meticulous attention to detail when it comes to situation, time, line changes, fatigue levels and the personnel on both sides, McLellan said.
“All those game management tools are really important for him and it rubs off on the other guys,” McLellan said.
McLellan said that game management became increasingly important as a campaign progressed, particularly this season with a dense, intra-divisional schedule that has the Kings facing each opponent in the West eight times.
“There aren’t a lot of surprises anymore, and game management becomes a huge tool,” McLellan said. “Drew has it. He’s able to chat in the room and get guys up. There’s a reason why he’s a winner.”
One especially familiar matchup this weekend in the Kings’ two games against San Jose will be that of Doughty and Sharks center Logan Couture, who grew up as friends and opponents in London, Ontario, Canada.
MOORE, GAMBRELL MEET AGAIN
Doughty and Couture won’t be the only duo on the ice with some history, as Kings winger Trevor Moore and San Jose center Dylan Gambrell were linemates at the University of Denver.
Moore racked up 44 points in 40 games in 2015-16, his third season with the Pioneers, and Gambrell had his best season at the NCAA level with 47 points, despite it being his first year.
“We were linemates, we played together for I think two years,” said Moore, though it was actually one season. “Gams is a great player. We still keep in touch. I’m really happy for him; he’s doing great. I’ve always been a big fan of his.”
Gambrell had two points, including a game-winning goal on April 3, against the Kings this season. Moore also notched a goal and an assist across six meetings.
Another NCAA standout, defenseman Christian Wolanin of the University of North Dakota, made his Kings debut Friday. He had three assists in two games with the Ontario Reign, and became the latest blue-liner to receive an opportunity to crack the Kings’ lineup. He previously played 58 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators.
CAMPBELL SETS RECORD
Former Kings goalie Jack Campbell has thrived in Toronto, particularly of late when he has had to stand in for the injured Frederik Andersen.
Campbell, 29, was once a highly touted first-round pick who backstopped Team USA at the World Junior Championships. But his career was hindered by injuries and mixed form in the Dallas Stars organization. He reassembled his game with the Kings before being dealt to the Maple Leafs along with Kyle Clifford last season.
Campbell has been magnificent this year, posting 10 wins against no losses, a 1.57 goals-against average, a .944 save percentage and two shutouts. He displayed vulnerability and sincere emotion after setting a franchise record – with one of the longest-standing and most storied franchises in hockey – for the most consecutive wins in team history.
“It’s been a long journey and just to have (my teammates’) support, every single guy, it’s crazy. It’s a dream come true, something I worked very hard for,” Campbell said.
Campbell discussed the surreal, often intense environment in Toronto and also gave a nod to his former teammates in Los Angeles.
“There’s not a day I don’t thank the Lord for putting me here in Toronto with these amazing guys,” Campbell said. “And I don’t want to forget my L.A. teammates and coaches there because they got the ball rolling for me in the NHL and without them, I wouldn’t be here.”