While Jonathan Quick's mastery in goal was front-and-center on Monday night, just as conspicuous was what the Anaheim Ducks were trying to do to Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. While it may be premature to suggest that they were tryng to injure Doughty, what the Anaheim Ducks did to No. 8 certainly doesn't suggest that they were simply trying to make nice. But whatever the motive was, the Ducks were unsuccessful as Doughty remained in Game 2, ultimately helping his team take a 2-0 series lead back to Los Angeles.
Whether it was Marian Gaborik tying Game 1 with seven seconds to go in regulation, him winning Game 1 in overtime or him scoring 34 seconds into Game 2, the Anaheim Ducks were understandably frustrated. But it wasn't with Gaborik personally. Instead, they had some sort of vendetta against Drew Doughty. Having Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr already sidelined, the Kings can ill afford to lose another defenseman this series. Perhaps if Los Angeles's best D-man went down, the Ducks might have a better shot at winning.
In the second period of Game 2, Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin slashed Doughty on the back of his right leg. While the slash didn't look harsh, Doughty collapsed to the ice, yelling so loud that TSN color analyst Ray Ferraro claimed to have heard it from the press box. But under his own power, Doughty rose to his feet before limping off the ice. While I can't speak for everyone, I know that I was holding my breath when I saw the 2010 Norris finalist limp off the ice. After all, the aforementioned Willie Mitchell exited the ice the same way during Game 7 of the San Jose series, and he has yet to return to the Kings lineup. Thankfully, Drew Doughty did return to the game - but received a bit more abuse.
With just 10 seconds remaining in the second, Anaheim forward Matt Beleskey slew-footed Doughty what looked like miles away from the play. Beleskey took the very undisciplined tripping penalty and Doughty (thankfully) was unscathed.
If the Anaheim Ducks were looking to be subtle in their attempt to slow down Drew Doughty, they have been doing a shoddy job thus far. What the Ducks have given themselves in this situation is a double-edged sword. Since they failed to take Drew Doughty out of Game 2, their efforts proved dismal making themselves look like fools. Were they successful in their attempt to injure the Los Angeles blueliner, every one of their victories from here on out would be hollow at best. The Ducks would lose the respect of players, coaches, fans and experts from around the league. If that were the case, the Ducks could try to convince themselves that they wouldn't care what other thinks. But at the end of the day, such a notion for this team would be nothing less than a crock.
They earned the top seed in the Western Conference this season, the Pacific Division title and a 3-1-1 regular-season record over their crosstown rivals. But if attempting to injure Drew Doughty or any of the other Kings is what the Anaheim Ducks need to do to get themselves a bit closer to hockey's Holiest prize, then all of their hard work during the regular season will be all for naught.
If the Anaheim Ducks can't win fair, then why even try? Yes, when the playoffs start, teams elevate their game and do what's necessary to win. Having said that, though, there is an unwritten code against deliberately injuring a player from the opposing team. It's a code of ethical and moral conduct that the Anaheim Ducks (at least in Game 2) failed to show - and it's embarrassing to see.
When this series resumes at Staples Center on Thursday for Game 3, we can all hope that the Anaheim Ducks can come to their senses and put forth an effort that would give them every opportunity to win the honorable way. Should the Ducks fail to do so, we will again be witnesses to the Los Angeles Kings proving why they are the better team in more ways than one.