Drew Doughty

Doughty: I outplayed Karlsson, now I want to outplay Subban

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Interesting quote here from Kings blueliner Drew Doughty, coming off last night’s win in Ottawa while looking ahead to tonight’s affair in Montreal (from NHL.com):

After facing Senators captain Erik Karlsson on Thursday, Doughty will match up against another of the NHL’s elite defensemen for a second straight night in Montreal’s P.K. Subban.

“I always obviously want to outplay the opposing team’s best defenseman. I think [Thursday] I did it for sure, [Friday is] going to be a tough challenge.

“P.K.’s a good player; I’m going to have to outplay him if we want to win the game.”

Doughty had a huge effort in Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Sens by recording two assists, three hits and playing a team-high 26:56. While Karlsson played more (28:25), he failed to record a single point and finished minus-2.

Tonight, Doughty gets his shot at Subban.

While he didn’t directly come out and say it, one has to think these matchups hold special significance, especially since Karlsson and Subban have won a Norris Trophy — one of the few accolades that’s eluded Doughty over his seven-year career.

The 25-year-old has only been a finalist once, finishing third behind Duncan Keith and Mike Green in 2010; when Subban won in ’13, Doughty got just a single first-place vote and when Karlsson won in ’12, Doughty received just one third-place vote.

This season, Doughty is averaging the most playing time of his career — 28:46 a night — and is on pace to score 42 points, which would be his most since recording a career-high 59 during the 2009-10 campaign (which, as mentioned above, coincided with his first and only Norris nomination.)

PHT Morning Skate: (Video) Swedish goalie leads young fans in on-ice Macarena

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Julius Hudacek likes to express himself after a victory. So while still in his gear, the Swedish league goaltender brought some young fans from the crowd on to the ice so that he could lead them in a celebratory dance to Macarena. You can see that below (H/T Puck Daddy):

If you frequent the Morning Skate regularly, Hudacek might sound familiar to you and that’s because one of his other postgame celebrations was previously featured.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting an $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday night’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Brian McGrattan and his wife spent a couple hours in the hospital with Riley Dunda, a then 18-year-old Ontario Junior Hockey League who had suffered a stroke. Dunda has since gotten out of the hospital and in August he was back on the ice, so McGrattan invited him to the Flames’ morning skate on Tuesday. (Calgary Sun)

Boone Jenner has been a “heart-and-soul kind of guy” for the Blue Jackets. (Columbus Dispatch)

Drew Doughty recalls the day he was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings. (LA Kings Insider)

What movies have brought NHL players to tears?

The New York Islanders have been outscored 11-1 in the final 20 minutes of their last three contests. (Newsday)

Locking in the core: Kings sign Martinez to six-year, $24 million extension

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Los Angeles secured another key contributor long-term on Wednesday, inking defenseman Alec Martinez to a six-year, $24 million deal.

The deal, first reported by Sportsnet, kicks in next season and represents a tidy raise on the $1.1 million Martinez is making annually on his current contract. At $4M per, he’ll sit even with Jake Muzzin as the third highest-paid blueliner on the team (trailing Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov.)

Martinez shot to fame last season by scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in overtime of Game 5, but had shown his value and talent well prior to notching that famous tally. The 27-year-old scored a career-high 11 goals and 22 points in just 61 games last year — leading all Kings blueliners in goals — and played 19:40 a night.

In the playoffs, Martinez again proved to be a valuable offensive commodity on the back-end, scoring five goals and 10 points in 24 games.

As mentioned at the top, the deal is another long-term pact from Dean Lombardi. The Kings now have Martinez, Muzzin, Doughty, Voynov, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Marian Gaborik, Jeff Carter and Jonathan Quick all signed through 2019.  The Muzzin deal was signed in mid-October, while the Gaborik deal was completed in late June.

Doughty: Kings haven’t lived up to potential this season

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The Los Angeles Kings may have won two of the last three Stanley Cup titles; however, based on how they’ve finished in the standings, the regular season hasn’t really been their thing.

Looking back at 2011-12, the year they won their first Cup in franchise history, they barely qualified for the playoffs, finishing 13th overall. The next season was slightly better (7th overall), before last season’s 10th overall finish, which preceded their second championship.

So far this season, the Kings are 12-7-5, good for 12th overall. If the playoffs started today, they’d be in them. Which is, as noted, all they’ve really needed out of the regular season — a spot in the final 16.

Still, even knowing how it’s gone in the past, defenseman Drew Doughty isn’t happy.

“Half of the games we’ve played well,” he said, per LA Kings Insider. “I think we got away with some games we won where maybe we shouldn’t have won. But I also think there are a few games we lost where we played well and didn’t win. I’d say about half we’ve played well and that’s a problem. We need to play well 90, 95-percent of the games. We’d like to 100, but that’s just basically impossible.”

He added, “We just need to be better, a better hockey team. We know the potential we have when we’re on our game. We haven’t lived up to that potential, hardly at all this season.”

If there’s one difference between this regular season and the past three, it can be found in the Kings’ puck-possession stats. The past three (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), their five-on-five Corsi ranked among the NHL’s best, if not first overall. This season, it’s middle of the pack.

Unsatisfied as he may be right now, Doughty believes the Kings will get back to the type of hockey he knows they can play.

“We go through this way too often throughout our regular seasons,” he said. “We have little lapses where we don’t play well. As the season keeps going on, we start battling near the end to get into a playoff spot and we play amazing hockey.”

The Kings, with just one win in their last four, host the Bruins tonight.

The Kings aren’t just ‘going to go out and blow’ their Voynov cap space

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Just because the NHL decided to grant the Los Angeles Kings salary-cap relief for suspended defenseman Slava Voynov doesn’t mean the Kings are going to use that financial flexibility right away.

“I think we’re OK right now in terms of numbers,” GM Dean Lombardi told the L.A. Times. “The other thing, it’s not just we’re going to go out and blow the cap space to blow it. It still has to be the right guy. … Let’s get real. Finding top-four defensemen, they’re not available. Because a lot of times to be able to do that you’d better have a guy to replace him because top-four guys are so important to each other’s teams.”

The Kings’ active roster, as of today, includes seven d-men: Drew Doughty (who’s been playing a ton), Alec Martinez (out with a finger injury), Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Matt Greene, Brayden McNabb, and Jamie McBain.

When Voynov was suspended, he was averaging 23:11 of ice time.

Related: Need a d-man? Here are five potential trade targets