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May 31, 2013 6:30 pm

Sutter: Doughty a “big game player”

Do you remember the early concern over what many perceived to be a shaky start to the 2012-13 season by Drew Doughty?

When the Kings visited Chicago for the first time this year, they fell behind 3-0 less than one minute into the second period. Doughty, who was on the ice for both of Chicago’s even strength goals and both of Los Angeles’ power play goals – which he assisted on in the eventual 3-2 loss – registered his fifth minus-2 performance over the span of nine games.

Over the remaining 35 regular season games, Doughty recorded six goals, 16 points and a plus-15 rating, leading the Kings to a record of 22-10-3 over that span.

The regular season statistics aren’t as important to Darryl Sutter as Doughty’s ability to step up in postseason games. “He’s a big game player,” Sutter said Friday. Doughty’s 27:57 of average ice time – the second-highest time-on-ice average out of any active playoff participant – says more about what he is capable of providing to the team than the numbers he logged during action this past winter.

Of course, the experience of the 2012 postseason went a long way in the development of perhaps the most dynamic defenseman in the entire sport.

Darryl Sutter, on how winning a Stanley Cup affected Drew Doughty’s development:
“If you look at how many games we played last year – 20 playoff games – he’s a big game player. He got better as we went along. You have to remember he’s been a part of championships before, been a significant part of it even as a younger guy on it. He did that again last year, and then at the end, when you just evaluate…again at the end of the playoffs, you evaluate that’s the experience, not the regular season experience. It’s a whole different experience. There’s not many guys his age that have already accomplished what he has accomplished. So that in itself is the experience of doing it.”

Doughty was 22 years old last spring. Jonathan Toews was 22 and Patrick Kane was 21 when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010. These are players whose development has been furthered by success so early in their careers and will be looking to continue to build on that success as a part of two of the four teams remaining in the 2013 postseason.

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