The Kings’ most stable player might also be their most dynamic, as Drew Doughty has remained a time leader on the ice and a leader of the men, as well as an outspoken personality with a desire to take control of games.
He recently spoke about his role as a tone setter and someone who can put the team on his back. On Friday, Kings coach Todd McLellan spoke about the value of Doughty’s willingness to take responsibility and his good conscience when it comes to the various facets of game management.
“It’s experience, it’s the meaning of hockey, it’s having a good sense of what’s going on in the game like him,” McLellan said.
While Doughty has always been laid back on the outside, on the ice he shows meticulous attention to detail when it comes to the situation, the weather, line changes, fatigue levels and the personnel of both sides, McLellan said.
“All of these game management tools are really important to him and it carries over to the other guys,” McLellan said.
McLellan said game management becomes increasingly important as the campaign progresses, particularly this season with a dense, intra-divisional schedule that sees the Kings face every opponent in the West eight times.
“There aren’t a lot of surprises anymore, and game management becomes a huge tool,” McLellan said. “Drew has it. He is able to chat across the room and get guys up. There’s a reason he’s a winner.
A particularly familiar game this weekend in the Kings’ two games against San Jose will be Doughty and Sharks center Logan Couture, who grew up as friends and adversaries in London, Ontario, Canada.
MOORE, GAMBRELL REUNITE
Doughty and Couture won’t be the only pair on the ice with some history, as Kings winger Trevor Moore and San Jose center Dylan Gambrell were teammates at the University of Denver.
Moore had 44 points in 40 games in 2015-16, his third season with the Pioneers, and Gambrell had his best season at the NCAA level with 47 points, although it was his first year.
“We were teammates, we played together for I think two years,” Moore said, although it was actually only one season. “Gams is a great player. We always keep in touch. I’m really happy for him; he’s doing very well. I’ve always been a big fan of his.
Gambrell had two points, including a game-winning goal on April 3, against the Kings this season. Moore has also scored one goal and one assist in six appearances.
Another NCAA star, University of North Dakota defenseman Christian Wolanin, made his debut for the Kings on Friday. He had three assists in two games with the Ontario Reign and became the last defenseman to break into the Kings roster. He has already played 58 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators.
CAMPBELL SETS A RECORD
Former Kings goaltender Jack Campbell has thrived in Toronto, especially lately when he had to replace injured Frederik Andersen.
Campbell, 29, was once a highly touted first-round pick who backed Team USA to the World Junior Championships. But his career was hampered by injuries and lackluster form in the Dallas Stars organization. He rebuilt his game with the Kings before being dealt to the Maple Leafs with Kyle Clifford last season.
Campbell has been magnificent this year, posting 10 wins against no losses, a 1.57 goals-against average, a .944 save percentage and two shutouts. He showed vulnerability and genuine emotion after setting a franchise record – with one of hockey’s oldest and most legendary franchises – for the most consecutive wins in team history.
“It’s been a long journey and just to have the support (from my teammates), every guy, it’s crazy. It’s a dream come true, something I’ve worked really hard for,” Campbell said.
Campbell discussed the surreal and often intense environment in Toronto and also gave a nod to his former Los Angeles teammates.
“There isn’t a day that I don’t thank the Lord for placing me here in Toronto with these amazing guys,” Campbell said. “And I don’t want to forget my LA teammates and coaches there because they got the ball rolling for me in the NHL and without them I wouldn’t be here.”