Drew Doughty took a flamethrower to the Los Angeles Kings, with the defenseman calling out his team after a home loss against New Jersey last week.
The Kings are tied for the NHL’s worst record after Saturday’s 5-1 victory over the Golden Knights, and the prospect of landing Jack Hughes with the No. 1 overall pick is the only real saving grace for the fans at Staples Center.
Doughty’s frustration finally boiled over after the 6-3 loss to the Devils on Thursday when he told reporters he didn’t have much to say, then went on to say the Kings were playing with a lack of emotion.
“Just, it’s pathetic, it’s embarrassing, it’s frustrating,” Doughty said. “It’s one thing to lose games when guys are competing. You can live with that. And you can live with doing good things, but when we’re not doing well and we’re not competing, you can’t live with it, and we haven’t lived with it since it started happening.”
Drew Doughty is not very happy with how the Kings have played so far this season.https://t.co/cvlCelJkFs
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) December 8, 2018
Those comments from Doughty attracted the most attention, which is what happens when words like “pathetic” and “embarrassing” get tossed around.
But it was Doughty’s later answer that may have provided the most insight into the Kings’ current issues.
”We have to be a hard team to play against,” he said. “We have to have teams come in here and be like, ‘Oh, no, we’ve got to play the L.A. Kings again in their arena,’ you know? I don’t see enough physicality from our team.”
Los Angeles won Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014 with a heavy, bump-and-grind style under coach Darryl Sutter. As the league started to rely more on speed and skill, the Kings tried to keep up and were left in the dust.
Interim coach Willie Desjardins never will be mistaken for the iron-fisted Sutter, who was fired in 2017 after missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
Maybe this was all Doughty’s way of suggesting to general manager Rob Blake what the club should be looking for in its next coach.
“The bottom line is that the Kings have to be a physical hockey team,” Doughty said. “We’re not as skilled as the other teams, that’s just the bottom line. We have to be a physical team.”
Winnipeg winger Patrick Laine has a unique stat line through the first 28 games. The third-year standout is tied for the league lead with 21 goals entering Saturday but has only three assists.
Laine’s assist total is the lowest by a player with at least 20 goals through the first 28 games since the start of the 1987-88 season, according to NBC Sports.
The fewest assists during a 50-goal season was 21 by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin in 2015-16. Laine is on pace for 62 goals and nine assists.
Colorado features the league’s top two point producers in winger Mikko Rantanen (12-35—47) and center Nathan MacKinnon (19-25—44).
They are the first pair of teammates to combine for 90 points or more in a team’s first 30 games of a season since Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (12-37—49) and Sidney Crosby (13-31—44) in 2008-09.
The Hurricanes briefly recalled goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic from the minors this past week, which normally wouldn’t warrant much attention.
But Nedeljkovic, who leads the American Hockey League in wins with 12, is no ordinary prospect. The 22-year-old has two goals in his career and narrowly missed a third last month.
Alex Nedeljkovic missed what would have been his THIRD professional goal by just inches last night.
Reminder: he is a goalie. pic.twitter.com/NL3MtQHlDZ
— Charlotte Checkers (@CheckersHockey) November 11, 2018
The joke in Carolina was that Nedeljkovic could help the Hurricanes’ struggling offense, which ranks 29th in the NHL in goals per game.