October 24, 2011 2:50 pm

Doughty edges closer to return

Drew Doughty has missed three games courtesy of the crushing shoulder-to-shoulder check he received from Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo on Oct. 15, and it’s unlikely that Doughty will play tomorrow night. Doughty returned to practice this morning, but in a yellow no-contact jersey, and hasn’t yet been medically cleared to play, although by all indications he’s close. After tomorrow, the Kings take a road trip to Dallas (Thursday), Phoenix (Saturday) and Colorado (Sunday) and it seems fairly clear that Doughty will be able to play in at least two of those games, if not all three. Terry Murray’s philosophy has been to re-insert a player as soon as the player is cleared and says he’s ready to go. Today, Doughty indicated that he might want a couple full-contact practices first. Here’s what Murray and Doughty said after practice today…

MURRAY: “I was very encouraged to see him out there with the team today, as you see in a different color sweater, so there was no contact. That will probably be the way it will be for another few days.’’

Question: Is the plan for him to come on the road trip?

MURRAY: “I’d like to make plans for him to come along with us (and play).’’

Question: Would you like to see him get in some practices with contact before he plays?

MURRAY: “With contact? None. He’s doing all the work on the rehab side of it, with our training staff in the weight room. When he gets the green light on that part of it, he’s 100 percent and ready to go.’’

—–

And here’s what Doughty said about his status and recovery…

DOUGHTY: “Good. Getting better every day. I don’t know if I’m the lineup, or anything like that, tomorrow, but hopefully I’ll be coming back soon.’’

Question: Do you feel like you could play?

DOUGHTY: “Yeah, I do, but at the same time you don’t want to risk re-injuring it and making it worse or something like that. So we’re going to be cautious about it. It’s still early in the season and we’re winning right now. So, like I said, just be cautious about it and I’ll be back as soon as I can.’’

Question: How much has it improved in the last couple days?

DOUGHTY: “Huge. Every day, it’s got a lot better. That’s the biggest key to it. Everything is improved. Now it’s just about making sure it doesn’t get re-injured if I take a hit. Once I get cleared to play, I can’t wait to get back.’’

Question: Is there anything that’s uncomfortable to do?

DOUGHTY: “No, not really anymore. Every day it’s just got so much better and everything has started to clear up. In my mind, I feel like I could play tomorrow, but I probably shouldn’t at the same time. It’s kind of up to the trainers and up to the coaches right now, so we’ll see what happens.’’

Question: So if it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, you’d be in there.

DOUGHTY: “Oh yeah, I’d be in for sure.’’

Question: But a Tuesday game in late October…

DOUGHTY: “No, maybe not. Like I said, it’s kind of out of my hands. I know how I feel and stuff like that, but the trainers know what they’re talking about too, and they’ve seen these injuries many times. Obviously I’ve got to listen to them, and whatever decision they make, I know they’re making the best decision for me.’’

Question: Would you prefer to have a couple practices with contact before you came back?

DOUGHTY: “Yeah, I think that’s something I definitely need, because you kind of need to test it before a game, before I get one cross-check and it’s not comfortable anymore. So I definitely need to get some practices in with some contact before I play, so that’s kind of why I’m thinking I probably won’t play tomorrow.’’

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