On whether it’s “ideal” that Drew Doughty regularly logs over 30 minutes:
It’s not ideal. I think Drew is one of those guys that plays in all situations, key situations, and I think sometimes if you look at the game in Anaheim the other night, that was pretty close to half a hockey game. Probably 40% of the game was special teams, and he’s first-out, both sides of the puck, and then obviously you have overtime there and five defensemen. I think a number that we’re all comfortable with Drew is somewhere in the 26-to-28-minute range. I think that’s something he wants. There’ll be games where he’s less, there’ll be games where he’s more, but if you’re asking me what ‘ideal’ is for him, that’s probably the number. And the other thing, sometimes the schedule dictates. I mean, if you’re in a really heavy four-in-five type of schedule, it might be difficult. In a week like this, a week where you play two games in a week and you’ve got recovery days in there, I think it’s less of a factor, but I think over the course of a season, we’d certainly like to see that number down. [Reporter: Because he’d love to be out there all the time.] I think Drew would like to play 60 minutes. He does. He’s one of those guys, quite honest, when the whole team’s going and you’re getting really good production from all three pairs and his minutes come down, I think it’s an adjustment for him. He’s one of those guys that wants to go all the time. He doesn’t like TV timeouts. It kind of slows the game down, because he wants to go, go, go all the time. You love that in Drew. [Reporter: For his own good, sometimes you have to.] Yeah, I think you’re right. But he’s a big game player that wants to play and make a difference all the time. I think we love that in Drew. [Reporter: Coach, if those minutes, though, are power play time, where the minutes may not be as hard, are you a little more comfortable if the numbers are higher? If he’s spending more power play time as opposed to penalty kill and five-on-five?] It just depends on the power play. We had to go back for pucks in Anaheim the other night. I didn’t think our breakout was effective, so that can be taxing on him, too, because he’s got to go back. It’s like doing down-and-backs in practice. It just depends. I mean, Drew’s such a good puck-mover. He doesn’t seem to spend long stretches in his own zone, because when he gets the pucks, you get out pof your zone. It’s kind of hard to find him in those situations where he gets really extended in the real hard minutes down low, but I thought he was great in Anaheim the other night. I thought he had good energy even though he played big minutes. I thought he defended well. I thought he got pucks out of trouble, and I didn’t see fatigue being a factor. Special teams – we don’t want to be in that situation again. Like, that’s way too many minutes in special teams and certainly something we’d like to avoid, but that was probably kind of a unique game. Anaheim was probably the exception, not the rule.
On both Los Angeles and Tampa Bay experiencing turnarounds after having missed the playoffs:
Yeah, so maybe there’s a little extra motivation. I think a healthy Stamkos really helps them. Some of the young players are a year older. This Brayden Point looks like he’s becoming astar. The addition of a guy like Kunitz who’s a real veteran guy. I know Callahan’s had some injuries in the past. I think the fact that they’re healthy, they’re excited about it, they’ve got that young kid Sergachyev on the back end who looks really impressive. I think there’s a lot of things that’ve lined up for them that point to a real good start to the season. [Reporter: Can there be a big game in November?] There was the other night. I think they’re all big games, to be honest with you. Points, early in the year, we’ve learned along the way that points early in the year are big points down the road. This is the start of a new segment for us against a really good hockey team, and it’s the start of a home stand for us. We look at this as a big game, just like we do at any other point of the year.
On Los Angeles’ depth scoring:
It’s good to see. I think if you look at our team, Kopi and Brownie and Alex have really carried the load offensively, but we’re starting to get some production out of the Kempe line. Shoresy scores a big goal the other night. We still think that guys like Brooks Laich and Cammy can jump in and produce. Andy, Dowder, when he plays, Amadio scored for us. And we always think that we can get some production from our defense. I think it’s the way the game is now. Especially when you’ve got a top line like Kopitar’s line, they’re going to get special attention, and there are going to be nights where you need production from other areas of your locker room. It’s certainly something that we think’s important and we think is capable in our lineup.
On whether a goals-against rise is a byproduct of the modern NHL, or whether areas can tighten up:
We haven’t been as tight, but that’s not something we’re not addressing. We can sit here and get all excited about where we are, but the fact of the matter is we need to get better in a lot of areas, and defensively is one of those. I think it’s a work in progress. I think we’ve done a good job in certain areas, but we certainly would like to tighten up a little bit. And we don’t see what we’re trying to do offensively isn’t creating more chances for the other team. The attention to detail defensively doesn’t take away what you’re trying to do offensively. It’s just we can get better. [Reporter: A lot easier to do it when you’re 11-2-2.] Offensive production helps that, but at the end of the day, we’re just as excited about winning 1-0 or 2-1 as we are about 4-3.
On whether the faster, higher-pace game correlates to the rise in offense around the league:
I think the game’s getting faster. It’s amazing how fast teams play and how involved the defenses are. There are some different schemes out there right now that are interesting where you have different looks in the offensive zone with some movement from the defense. St. Louis has done it, these guys are doing it, we’ve certainly tried to do it a little bit and I think that’s created offense. We thought over the summer it used to be one or two teams that had three 30-point defensemen, and now there are seven or eight teams that have three 30-point defensemen. That’s a big change in the game. And it’s not that there’s more scoring, there’s just more scoring from the back end. It’s an interesting evolution of the game, and I think we could all agree that the mobility of the back end around the league is a big difference in the game.
-One quote omitted for use in today’s morning skate report
-Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI