Selected 2nd overall in the 2008 draft, Drew Doughty makes the Kings perennial contenders. Prior to his arrival in the NHL, Los Angeles had never won a Stanley Cup and had missed the playoffs in six straight years. Now in his sixth professional season, Doughty has led the Kings to the post-season in all but his rookie year. He anchors a defense that brought the organization its first Stanley Cup in 2012. The Kings are now just a win from their second Stanley Cup Finals in three years.
Something about the NHL playoffs flips a switch in Drew Doughty’s head. Doughty, the ultimate two-way defender, has elevated his game to new heights in that could earn him MVP honors in 2014. Through the first three rounds, Doughty has logged 3 goals and 11 assists. His 14 points rank second all-time among playoff-totals for Los Angeles defensemen behind the 16 he posted in the Kings 2012 championship run. A Conn Smythe trophy for Drew Doughty would make him the first defenseman recipient since Scott Niedermayer in 2007.
He is the quarterback of a red-hot 26.7% powerplay, best among any team surviving the first round. His 8 powerplay points rank second behind P.K. Subban. His plus-8 rating is tied for 4th best in the playoffs. His defensive play has been excellent, evidenced by his renowned, diving pokecheck to deny Patrick Kane a point-blank shot in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
Most impressive about Doughty’s 2014 playoffs is how he has improved the play of his teammates, especially his defensive partner Jake Muzzin. Muzzin is enjoying a breakout playoff with 5 goals and 11 points. Both 1989-born defensemen love being paired with one another. “The one thing we’re so good at is, when teams get in on the forecheck, we don’t spend time in our own zone, because we use each other to break out the puck. But at the same time we can do it on our own. So that’s why we’re such a good pair together,” Doughty continued. “He’s grown so much defensively that I’m hoping for many years we can be partners together.”
Though Doughty’s playoff run makes him a front-runner for the MVP trophy, much can and will change in the next 20 days. Other front-runners include teammates Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, and New York’s brick-wall goaltender Henrik Lundquist. With the Los Angeles Kings looking poised to capture their second Stanley Cup in franchise history, Drew Doughty is making a serious case to win some additional hardware.