Waking up with the Kings: April 19
-The Kings’ 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets was an encouraging response to a San Jose shootout loss on Tuesday that saw Darryl Sutter and several players decry a surplus of turnovers. On Thursday night, the Kings faced a desperate and bought-in Columbus team that has made enormous strides in the second half of the season. Despite playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Blue Jackets matched up well in the possession battle, forechecked relentlessly and continued to get ample mileage out of its well-worn pair of scuffled work boots. “It’s the type of game that you expect with…four or five games left in the year,” Jonathan Quick said, an opinion backed by the multiple post-whistle scrums and the 88 hits accumulated by the two teams that can feature heavy styles of play.
-Drew Doughty has been terrific for most of the latter two-thirds of the season, and I cast my vote for him for the team’s Outstanding Defenseman and Best Defensive Player awards, citing the quality of competition he faces nightly and his 26:21 average ice time per night, which ranks third amongst NHL skaters with at least 15 games played. He’s a plus-14 over his last 31 games after reaching a nadir with a minus-11 rating following a 3-2 loss at Chicago on February 17. I reject the notion that Doughty’s production has been heavily related to the arrival of Robyn Regehr, or that Regehr’s presence offers some sort of “counterbalance” that allows Doughty more offensive freedom. Of Doughty’s seven points since Regehr’s arrival, only one point came in five-on-five play while Regehr was on the ice. Doughty’s surge in production is more heavily related to 1) An anomalously low shooting percentage for much of the first half of the season, 2) An outstanding Los Angeles power play, of which Regehr has no part, and 3) Doughty’s naturally dynamic ability in all ends of the ice that will allow him to record points in bunches. When Darryl Sutter was asked specifically after the win over Anaheim game last Saturday if Doughty’s production is a byproduct of Regehr’s presence, he answered “Probably the other way, quite honest. Bringing Robyn in – Robyn’s going to play in a shut-down role, so Drew has to assume some of that responsibility now.”
-Matt Greene took part in his first game action since January 19 and recorded five hits, two shots, two penalty minutes and a minus-one rating in 16:15 of ice time. More important than any numbers he racked up in the win was that he played without any hesitation and felt fine after the game. He was once again wearing an “A” on his jersey, a letter ceded to him by Mike Richards. Richards had worn the “A” in the 42 games in his absence. I’ll have more on Mike Richards