He may not have a goal to his credit yet this season ands he may only have a couple of assists to go along with a subpar -3 rating through eight games but if last night's game against Pittsburgh was any indication, Drew Doughty is on the precipice of returning to his old form.
Second only to Jack Johnson, Doughty logged 25:04 of total ice time and certainly made the most of it, which is more than can be said for his previous seven outings. Despite only mustering a single shot last night, there was a different Drew Doughty on the ice last night - one that looked hungrier that what we've been used to season thus far.
In last night's overtime session, the Kings somehow failed to manage a single shot despite the onslaught they fed the Penguins during the majority of those five extra minutes. Doughty look much less tenative with the puck as he kept firing it towards the goal. Unfortunately, he missed the net most of the time.
I'm not here to make fun of Drew Doughty. Quite the contrary, actually. After a drama-filled summer, Doughty missed training camp as he went through the time without a contract. With his financial upturn aside, Doughty was a few steps behind most of his teammates who all attended camp and we're physically and mentally for the regular season. Despite his asbsence in September, Doughty was signed and playing in time for the start of the regular season.
Some suggest it was rust while others suggest that it was some sort of hangover of a new lucrative deal that slowed Doughty down. We can all agree that it's a little from column A and a little from column B - but either way you look at it, Doughty just wasn't there the way his teammates wanted him to be there early on.
But that was then and this is now. He may not have been close to hitting the net most times last night but Doughty's tireless efforts on not only generating offense but keeping the power play going were signs that #8 is almost there. He showed the effort but missed all but one shot. No worries. Doughty can improve on that in the next game and so on.
Although yours truly for getting down Drew Doughty's throat for his shoddy play so far, I can't deny that he's at least making the effort. Some may say that with $7 million per year, patience is a luxury Kings' fans simply do not have with the London, Ontario, native.
But why not? Like I said, leave the matter of how much money Drew Doughty now makes at the door and put him on the same level as Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and even Kevin Westgarth. It's a new season filled with new expectations and Doughty's role is no more or no less important than those of any of his teammates.
If Doughty scores his first goal tomorrow night and quickly becomes Los Angeles' hottest on-ice asset, fantastic. If that doesn't happen, though, don't fret. We're only wrapping up the first week of the second month of the season and the 2011-12 campaign is simply too long and eventful for everything to remain status quo.
Drew Doughty's stock rose somewhat after last night's game and it will gradually keep ising. Let's not worry. As far as Drew Doughty's production goes, it's simply a matter of when, not if.
Photo: Courtesy of What's Up, Ya Sieve?