Darryl Sutter spoke earlier today about Drew Doughty’s evolution in the National Hockey League, saying that compared to earlier in his career, he has much more postseason experience and is now playing with a younger defense than when he was paired alongside Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi.
“Now you’re putting three or four younger defensemen in there, so you’re expecting more out of him,” Sutter said. “He’s killing penalties now more than he ever has, which is important for young defensemen to learn how to kill penalties, and to want to take great pride in it. That’s something that’s still evolving in his game.”
Doughty leads the NHL with an ice time average of 29:20 per game, and though his five goals (based on a career-low 2.7% shooting percentage) are off his 82-game pace of 11-goals, the full package of his poise, vision and reads aren’t necessarily illustrated by any particular statistic. Doughty was a Norris Trophy finalist when he posted a 16-goal, 59-point season in 2009-10, though he hasn’t been nominated since then despite having refined so many aspects of his game over the five seasons that have followed.
“I don’t really think about it,” Doughty said about his Norris Trophy candidacy. “I don’t know. I want to win it obviously, but I feel like I’ve had a pretty good season and hopefully my name is getting tossed around in that voting for it or whatever. But I don’t really think about it.”
There are those who feel he’s a strong candidate, though. Doughty’s 56.3% Corsi-for rating given the heightened competition he faces is outstanding, while his +338 in individual Corsi events leads the NHL.
“The only time [the Norris Trophy discussion] really comes up is when I go to Canada, beside that I don’t hear anything about it. It’s only when it’s brought up to me that I really think about it. My main focus is obviously just playing well to help our team win and if I can be up for that, it’d be great, but I’m not counting on it.”
Doughty may not be a favorite the trophy, though he should be a finalist. With competition from leading defensive scorer Erik Karlsson, as well as other top candidates in Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Kris Letang, there doesn’t seem to be any firm consensus on the Norris leader.
Drew Doughty, on ways to find success against Anaheim:
I think against their team, it’s important to shut down their top line. The top line is the line that drives them. They’re their leaders, obviously their best players too and I think they can always make a difference in a game. So I think that’s definitely one of the keys to shut down them. Then after that, they’re pretty deep too and their defensemen are mobile so we have to shut down all of that, too.
Doughty, on whether the team is more focused on playing 60 minutes against Anaheim:
Yeah, of course. We’re happy with getting leads, usually. Our team is really good at when we have the lead heading into the third, we shut the other team down and win the game. We’ve kind of failed to be as good at that this year. So this focus is never letting the foot off the gas pedal and always pushing for another one.
Doughty, on facing an Anaheim team with new personnel:
I think they definitely got a little bit better with the trades they made. They’ve got a little more depth on defense and they’re a good team. They’re tough to beat, but it’s always a game that our team gets up for. It’s a good measurement. We need two points so we’re going to be working for that.
Doughty, on whether he pays attention to out-of-town scores:
No, I’ll look at the standings like in the room or whatever, but no I don’t watch.