Mike Babcock knows Drew Doughty well. Babcock, the Detroit Red Wings coach, gave Doughty huge minutes and responsibilities during the 2010 Winter Olympics, when Babcock coached Doughty and the rest of the Canadian team to a gold medal. Today, Babcock was asked about Doughty’s relative lack of production this season — two goals and seven assists in 26 games — and whether it surprised him. Babcock echoed a sentiment that former Kings coach Terry Murray had often brought up, that Doughty’s slow start was attributed to the fact that he missed most of training camp and the preseason while he negotiated a new contract.
BABCOCK: “Well, if I didn’t know he wasn’t at training camp, (the lack of stats) would surprise me. This league is too good not to be ready ready to go when everybody else is ready to go. When you’re a player here that got hurt and didn’t play in training camp, and you wonder, why 15 games in, you’ve got no stats, all you’ve got to do is look around the league. It’s not by accident. Players are too good, they’re too ready. They come in early. It’s a short training camp, but they’re there two weeks in advance, skating 10 times just to be ready to start training camp. You can do that on your own, but you’re not as good by yourself. That’s the facts.’’
As for the Red Wings themselves, they were all over the map at the start of the season, as they followed a five-game winning streak with an 0-5-1 skid. It could be said that a win over the Kings got the Red Wings on track. A 4-1 victory over the Kings on Nov. 19 at Staples Center started a 10-3-0 run for Detroit. The Red Wings don’t figure to be in good spirits either, as they had a three-game winning streak ended Thursday with a 4-3 road loss to Nashville. Interim coach John Stevens knows that the Red Wings, who sit in fourth place in the Western Conference, will pose a sizable challenge.
STEVENS: “We’re going to have to be ready. Against Boston, we felt we played hard and came away empty. Then we came into Columbus and felt like we played really hard, and we were able to grind out a win. That needs to be an everyday thing here. Detroit is not only a skilled team, but they’re an extremely hard-working, competitive team. When you look at the beginning of the year, when they were losing games they were actually playing extremely well and losing games, and outshooting teams and actually carrying the play. It just wasn’t going in. You knew it was only a matter of time before they started taking games over. They’ve been a good team. They’ve been a dominant team at home here, so we’re going to have to come out and be ready to go. We need a 60-minute effort against this team, and really be competitive and hang onto the puck, because that’s kind of their m.o. They want the puck, they want to hang onto it, they want to make plays. So we’re going to have to be ready.’’