Is Drew Doughty starting to come around? After missing almost all of training camp and preseason because of his contract negotiations, then suffering an early-season injury, Doughty’s statistics are still far off his previous pace, and his play has been up and down, but of late it’s been more up than down. The two games on this road trip have been stronger than most in recent memory, and Doughty’s slap shot from the right point last night led to a Dustin Brown deflection and a game-winning goal. In his role as interim coach — and, formerly, as assistant coach — John Stevens (a former NHL defenseman) has obviously watched Doughty closely and said he likes what he’s seeing of late.
STEVENS: “It’s about not allowing himself to get frustrated. I think he’s an extremely competitive kid, and when he gets frustrated, he burns up energy that he could use productively, elsewhere. That’s what we’re starting to see happen. This kid obviously puts a lot of expectations on himself, and when the results aren’t there right away, it’s easy to get frustrated, but I think he’s starting to get by that. I really like the way he looks, in terms of his body language and his jump getting up the ice. He is still managing his risks, so he’s not just playing like a cowboy and doesn’t care what happens. I think he’s been a good team player, and both he and Jack have really been solid back there for us.’’
Question: When you see that body language going bad for him, what does that entail?
STEVENS: “Yelling at the referees, maybe taking penalties. His body language is pretty clear when he’s frustrated. I think we’ve seen more of a positive look in his demeanor. We saw a little of it last night when we got scored on. We got the puck bouncing on us, like it did in Anaheim, and anyone is going to think, `Man, what can come next?’ but to his credit he came out and had a strong third period and was critical on the winning goal. So that’s a really good sign for him.’’