As the Los Angeles Kings ventured to find solid footing through the first six weeks of the regular season, occasional questions were raised over Drew Doughty’s lack of production in a season in which his numbers weren’t leaping off of the scoresheet.
But despite what the numbers said – Doughty didn’t score his first goal until the 29th game of the season and dealt with a low plus-minus rating in the season’s first three weeks – the quality of his early-season play wasn’t necessarily captured in a basic statistical evaluation.
“The thing, especially with Dewey, is…he was still our best defenseman in the sense that he’s shutting down the Jonathan Toews and the Pavel Datsyuks every single night,” Dustin Brown said. “It’s one of those things that maybe the statsheet doesn’t show it and the fans are all over him and the media’s all over him, and everyone in the room realizes just how important he is. It’s a growing process for Dewey, dealing with those pressures of being that good, and trying to handle everything at once. He’s still young. Everyone forgets how young he still is.”
Already in possession of a championship ring at the age of 23, Doughty set a career-high in ice time with a 26:23 average – 45 seconds more than the 25:38 average from the 2010-11 season.
Though limited by an ankle injury he suffered in the San Jose series, he still offered an admirable contribution in the team’s postseason title defense and in his continued evolution as a player.
“I think he’s made great steps,” Brown said. From when me and him were rooming his first year until now is pretty remarkable, both on and off the ice, and I think there’s still a lot of room for him to grow. But for him to handle it the way he did, I’m proud of him as a teammate. Again, when I look at Dewey, the first thing I’m not looking at is how many goals he scored, because there’s a lot more to his game than scoring goals.”
Darryl Sutter referenced the broader result of the team’s defensive efforts when asked to evaluate Doughty, though he did offer a generally positive performance review.
“I think he had a good year. I think he was really typical with our team,” Sutter said. “I think we had a young defense that had a really good season. I think we can’t minimize the fact that our goals for went up and our goals against went up also. What we want to do as a group is cut our goals against a little better. So is that a reflection of Drew Doughty? Not really. It’s a reflection of our team.”