Kings' Doughty already trending to be among the best

Thu Jun 5, 2014 7:20pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Drew Doughty, at 24 already one of the most inspirational players for the Los Angeles Kings, has proven himself to be the best two-way defenseman of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Beyond that, he has his sights firmly set on becoming one of the all-time best at his position and, according to Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, has another decade to keep trending in that direction.

"When you do all the analytics on athletes, he's a long ways from being as good as he's going to be just because of his age," Sutter told reporters on Thursday, a day after the Kings won their Stanley Cup Finals opener against the New York Rangers.

"He plays a little more (time-wise) probably, for sure," Sutter replied when asked to assess the difference in Doughty from a year or two ago. "He didn't kill penalties, now he kills penalties. He plays against top players a lot."

Sutter, whose Kings rallied from two goals down to beat the Rangers 3-2 in overtime in an action-packed Game One of the National Hockey League's championship series, spelt out the areas where Doughy could improve.

"Learn to manage your ice time better, learn to manage what's going on on the ice," said the veteran coach, who played as a forward in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks. "You become a better shot selection guy, you become a better penalty killer.

"You learn the league better, you learn players on the other teams better. Nuances of star players.

"You learn how to handle your practice habits, nutrition, what you do on game days. All that stuff. What can he do better? There's a big difference between being 25 and 35."   Continued...

Jun 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) reaches for the puck against New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) in the second period during game one of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports