LA Kings are working hard this season even though they are down a key player
Drew Doughty is out for the rest of the season; he is a leader in points for the team
April 21, 2022
The LA Kings are making a strong push for the playoffs and coming down the final stretch with a handful of games left in the regular season.
But unfortunately, they're having to do so without veteran defenseman and assistant captain Drew Doughty, which seemed to somewhat dash the Kings hopes of ending an absence from the postseason the last three seasons. The bad news is, he is on the shelf for the remainder of the season after undergoing successful surgery on his wrist. The good news is, he is expected to make a full recovery for next season.
But the time is now, and the former Norris Trophy winner was a key variable to the equation of the Kings competing as they'll need all the firepower to secure a place in the playoffs and beyond.
Doughty, the 32-year-old, having had a bounce-back season, hadn't played since March 7 and led the Kings defensemen in goals (seven), assists (24) and points (31) in 39 games (a career low). And he led the team in average on ice.
This is bad timing since Doughty, in the past 14 seasons, all with the Kings, has not had to deal with significant injuries. He's been an ironman. But this season, he caught the injury bug, being sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury and also spent a stretch of time in COVID quarantine. Prior to this season, he only missed 19 games total.
Drafted second overall in 2008, Doughty is the Kings' all-time franchise leader in points, assists and games played by a defenseman, and completed his 1,000th game earlier this season. Six years ago, he won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman. The superstar has won gold medals at the World Junior Championships, World Cup of Hockey and twice at the Olympics with Canada. As a King, he raised the Stanley Cup twice (2012 and 2014).
But even in the absence of Doughty, the Kings have kept faith and hope alive.
Winning all five remaining regular season games remains the surest way to qualify for the postseason. As it stands right now, the Kings magic number is eight points as they hold a three-point cushion on fourth-place Vegas for the third and final guaranteed berth from the Pacific Division.
If the season ended today, the Kings would be facing the Oilers in the first round of the playoffs. But since five games remain, more will be revealed when the regular season is said and done.