Drew Doughty

Our Line Starts podcast: Struggling Lightning, Penguins; George McPhee interview

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In the debut episode, Pierre McGuire interviews George McPhee of the Vegas Golden Knights, while Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones react to the biggest news from Week 1 in the NHL. Is the sky falling in Tampa? Can the Penguins overcome Evgeni Malkin‘s long-term injury? Jones and Roenick also dive into the Matthew Tkachuk-Drew Doughty rivalry and talk about the best individual battles of their careers.

Rundown:
0:00-1:10 Intro
1:10-4:35 Pressure already mounting in Tampa Bay
4:35-9:20 Is Pittsburgh’s playoff streak in jeopardy?
9:20-12:25 Drew DoughtyMatthew Tkachuk rivalry
12:25-14:45 JR’s battle with Craig Berube
14:45-18:00 Jones gets under Steve Thomas’ skin
18:00-20:05 “Would you fight Tie Domi?”
20:05-35:30 Pierre McGuire interviews George McPhee
35:35-42:30 Patrick Roy impersonator trash talks the guys

Our Line Starts is part of NBC Sports’ growing roster of podcasts spanning the NFL, Premier League, NASCAR, and much more. The new weekly podcast, which will publish Wednesdays, will highlight the top stories of the league, including behind-the-scenes content and interviews conducted by NBC Sports’ NHL commentators.

Where you can listen:

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id1482681517

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/nbc-sports/our-line-starts

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/7cDMHBg6NJkQDGe4KHu4iO?si=9BmcLtutTFmhRrNNcMqfgQ

NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports

NHL on NBCSN: Kings offense looks to keep rolling against Canucks

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Wednesday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Last season, only the Anaheim Ducks (199) scored fewer goals than the Los Angeles Kings (202). The Kings had one player hit the 60-point mark (Anze Kopitar) and their leading goal scorers were Kopitar and Dustin Brown, who both finished with 22 tallies in 2018-19. Those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page.

Los Angeles didn’t really make any big changes to their roster over the summer, so expectations were fairly low coming into this campaign. How could the offense get better if they didn’t add a scoring forward? How could the team go from the lottery to the playoffs in just one offseason? It’s still early, but head coach Todd McLellan has found a way to extract from offense from this group.

They have a 1-1-0 record through two games, but they’ve managed to find the back of the net nine times so far. Can they keep up that?

“Well, the start was growth. We were able to put a team on its heels,” McLellan said after last night’s overtime win over the Calgary Flames, per LA Kings Insider. “Being resilient later on in the game was important. Scoring on the power play, we count on the power play to get us something and we executed something we’ve worked on very well. There are other areas – there’s individual growth, better board work, better around our net, so there were a lot of areas that we improved on (Tuesday).”

The Kings have scored power play goals in each of their games and they both came off the stick of Drew Doughty. McLellan is correct when he says he needs to be able to rely on his power play more because they were ranked 27th in that category last year.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 10 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

Is this sustainable? It’s way too early to tell. But they’re definitely off to an encouraging start.

One way they could continue to fill the net, is if they get a boost in production from Ilya Kovalchuk. The veteran winger has a goal and four points through two games and his line was even double-shifted at times during last night’s game. The 36-year-old had a tough year last year, as he managed to score just 16 goals and 34 points in 64 games. Nobody expects him to be a point-per-game player at this stage of his career, but him contributing with more regularity would be a welcome bonus for a squad that doesn’t typically score much.

“The three of them were challenged – (Kovalchuk), (Jeff Carter) and (Adrian) Kempe after the Edmonton game,” McLellan said. “I don’t think they were particularly pleased with their group’s play or maybe individual play, and we challenged ‘em, we gave ‘em another opportunity and they took advantage of it. So, we quickly recognized they were in the game and got them a lot of ice time. They earned it.”

We’ll find out if the trio can keep that going against an 0-2-0 Canucks squad.

Alex Faust and Ray Ferraro will have the call of Kings-Canucks from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Lucic gets in fierce fight on Neal’s big night; Doughty taunts Flames

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Upon learning about James Neal‘s four-goal game in Edmonton’s win on Tuesday, it was only natural to think of Milan Lucic, the player Neal was traded for this past summer.

Conveniently enough, Lucic’s Calgary Flames were in action as well on Tuesday. While Neal’s Oilers beat the Islanders 5-2, Lucic’s Flames fell 4-3 in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings.

James Neal after three games with Oilers: six goals, including four on Tuesday.
Milan Lucic after three games with Flames: zero points, but plenty of violence.

Indeed, it seems like Lucic is embracing the idea of being the Flames’ big bad/enforcer. He already came into Tuesday’s game with 21 penalty minutes, and added five PIM thanks to quite the rumble with Kurtis MacDermid of the Kings, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline. Lucic also delivered six hits during his 13:07 TOI.

If you want to strain the limits of credulity, you could argue that Lucic’s fight “fired up” the Flames. After all, the Kings were up 3-0 when that fight happened, and Calgary stormed back to tie things up 3-3 and send the action to overtime.

But don’t kid yourself; the Flames squeezed a point out of another contentious Calgary – Los Angeles clash because of Matthew Tkachuk.

That actually brings us to the other storyline of that overtime squabble: the boiling blood feud between Tkachuk and Drew Doughty.

While the two get nasty at times, both on the ice and off of it, there have also been moments where you can argue that they’re mutual disgust is driving them to even higher levels than normal. Tkachuk was splendid during Tuesday’s game, scoring two goals and an assist while being a menace with seven hits.

I’m still not totally sure Tkachuk wasn’t guilty of a high-stick while he was securing the puck for that goal, but either way, it was a stupendous display of hand-eye coordination (and also an obnoxious display of mouthpiece-dangling, a Tkachuk trademark):

This time around, Doughty got the last laugh, however.

Along with generating two assists, Doughty scored the power-play game-winner in overtime, and then cupped his hand to his ear to the audience as if he were Hulk Hogan during one of his more heelish runs:

So, the Lucic – Neal feud (that neither explicitly asked for) feels a little one-sided so far, while the very personal Tkachuk – Doughty rivalry could go back and forth. At this rate, they might need a cage match to settle things.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Tkachuk, Doughty prepare for another round of personal rivalry

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The NHL’s most intense individual rivalry continues on Tuesday night when Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings pay a visit to Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames.

From the moment Tkachuk entered the NHL he started established himself as a tough, physical, agitating forward that will get under the skin of his opponents while also filling the back of their net. In other words, he is a younger, Western Conference version of Brad Marchand. The type of player every general manager in the league would pay a huge price to get on their own team, while also hating their guts when they are not on their team.

No player in the NHL has been more annoyed by Tkachuk’s style of play than Doughty, as the two have an ongoing feud that has consistently intensified over the past three years.

Tkachuk was suspended for two games during his rookie season when he elbowed Doughty in the face, helping to spark their ongoing feud. Doughty has repeatedly sounded off on Tkachuk in interviews, saying how he doesn’t respect him and will never speak to him off the ice, to claiming that Tkachuk is the most hated player in the league. Whenever the two teams face there is almost always some kind of altercation between the two players, especially as they get a ton of ice-time going head-to-head with one another. On average they have spent about seven minutes per game playing head-to-head against one another in their matchups — that is a lot — while their positions (Tkachuk as a left winger, Doughty as a right defensemen) mean their paths are going to cross quite often.

Some examples of their, let’s say, extreme dislike for one another…

And..

And the elbowing incident that started it all…

It is a good bet they will become acquainted with one another again on Tuesday night.

Over the weekend Tkachuk was a guest on Hockey Night In Canada’s After Hours show and was asked by host Scott Oake if he should show Doughty, a Stanley Cup champion and Norris Trophy winner, more respect. Tkachuk did not miss a beat and instantly responded that he shows Flames captain Mark Giordano plenty of respect, adding “He’s a Norris Trophy winner.”

In 11 career games against Doughty and the Kings, Tkachuk has two goals, three assists and 15 penalty minutes.

MORE:
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL Power Rankings: First look at 2019-20 season

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We kick off our 2019-20 PHT Power Rankings with a look at where every team in the league standings as the season begins this week.

What are expecting?

Do not give up on the Lightning, believe in the Avalanche, and be very, very, very worried about the defense in Winnipeg.

Where does your team stand as the season begins?

To the rankings!

1. Tampa Bay Lightning. They embarrassed themselves in the playoffs and this core has a record of falling short when the chips are on the table. But the same things were said about the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues for years. They got over the hump. This team can, too. Still the best roster in the league on paper.

2. St. Louis Blues. Adding Justin Faulk to a Stanley Cup winning team is a nice way to end the offseason. Big question is if Jordan Binnington can come close to matching his 2018-19 performance over a full season.

3. Boston Bruins. This team is still loaded. David Pastrnak should be considered a real sleeper to win the goal-scoring crown.

4. Washington Capitals. Feels like the Capitals are kind of sneaking under the radar as a championship contender this season. The core is still in place and they are still great.

5. Colorado Avalanche. Buying all in on the hype. They needed to address their forward depth and they did that and more with Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, and Andre Burakovsky joining the roster. Their young defense is almost as exciting as their forwards.

6. San Jose Sharks. Even after losing Joe Pavelski and Donskoi they still have a great group of forwards and the best defense in the league. There is also no way that Martin Jones can be as bad as he was a year ago. Right? Right?!

7. Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a broken record at this point, but with all of that talent they can no longer tolerate third place finishes and Round 1 exits. At some point, Mike Babcock and Co. have to do something.

8. Vegas Golden Knights. A full year of Mark Stone, one of the league’s best all-around players, is going to be a game-changer.

9. Carolina Hurricanes. Their playoff run was no fluke. All of the focus is on the defense, but their forwards are excellent as well. Andrei Svechnikov looks like he is on the verge of a breakout season.

10. Calgary Flames. This feels low for the team that finished with the top record in the West a year ago, but a lot of things went right for them and I just don’t know how much I trust a full season of Cam Talbot and David Rittich in net.

[PHT PREDICTIONS: EAST / WEST / STANLEY CUP]

11. Nashville Predators. Can Matt Duchene help fix what was a truly depressing power play unit? That unit was the biggest thing holding this team back.

12. Pittsburgh Penguins. A true wild card team that seems like it could be a Stanley Cup contender or miss the playoffs entirely. A lot will depend on Evgeni Malkin bouncing back, Matt Murray staying healthy, and figuring out a capable defense after their top pairing.

13. Dallas Stars. They have elite talent at all three levels (forward, defense, goalie) and Pavelski gives them a much-needed secondary scoring threat for their second line. Still some depth concerns, but this team was a double overtime goal away in Game 7 from reaching the Western Conference Final.

14. Florida Panthers. They addressed their biggest need with the addition of Sergei Bobrovsky, and while his contract will probably be a disaster before it ends, he is good enough in the short-term to help get them back in the playoffs, something they desperately need to do for their fans.

15. New York Islanders. Can Semyon Varlamov do what Robin Lehner did a year ago? If he can’t that is going to leave a big hole that will be difficult to overcome.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets. As long as one of Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins can be passable in net I am not sure the regression is going to be as significant as some think this season. They still have enough talent to compete for a playoff spot.

17. Chicago Blackhawks. They should be able to score, but forward depth is a concern and the defense, even after offseason changes, has big questions. An Olli MaattaBrent Seabrook defense pairing might be the league’s slowest.

18. Minnesota Wild. If everything goes right there is a path back to the playoffs this season. The return of a healthy Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu would be a good start.

19. New York Rangers. Definitely a better team and what should be an entertaining one with the additions of Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko, but lack of depth down the middle and on defense will be their undoing.

20. New Jersey Devils. If Cory Schneider does not rebound in a big way it could undo what was a wildly successful summer.

21. Arizona Coyotes. Phil Kessel gives them the type of game-breaking offensive talent they have been lacking for more than a decade. Is that enough to get them back in the playoffs?

22. Philadelphia Flyers. Enough good players to be an interesting team and just enough question marks to not fully buy into them.

23. Montreal Canadiens. They were just a couple points shy of a playoff spot, but a lot of teams around them managed to get better while the Canadiens mostly stood pat.

24. Winnipeg Jets. The forwards are great, especially now that Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine are signed, but the state of that defense, especially without Dustin Byfuglien at the moment, is some real nightmare fuel for Winnipeg.

25. Buffalo Sabres. They have two franchise players and made some nice offseason upgrades, but there is a huge gap between them and the top-three teams (and probably top-four, if you include Florida) in their division.

26. Anaheim Ducks. Probably one of the best goalie duos in the league and some intriguing young forwards will get a chance to excel, but still too many holes.

27. Vancouver Canucks. Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes offer long-term hope. The rest of the roster does not.

28. Edmonton Oilers. It looks like they are on the verge of wasting another prime season of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, which is still difficult to comprehend.

29. Detroit Red Wings. Steve Yzerman is going to need some time to get this thing back on track.

30. Los Angeles Kings. Even if Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick bounce back there just isn’t enough talent around them to matter.

31. Ottawa Senators. Anything other than the worst record in the league would be an accomplishment.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.