Doughty Told His Ice Time Will Drop; Top Pair Hard at Work
Jake Muzzin discussed what he and Drew are working on in the offseason; will Drew have less time to show it off?
Elliotte Friedman's latest edition of 30 Thoughts features plenty of Kings talk. He leads off with discussion of Slava Voynov's self-deportation and Mike Richards' eventual hearing, but he then moves on to some tidbits on the defense which were not previously revealed. The full article is here.
First off, how about Drew Doughty being told that his new goal for time on ice is... 25 minutes per game? In 82 games last season, Doughty only played under 25 minutes in SIX. Two of those were in the season's opening week, while three of those were in the season's closing stretch, which lends some credence to the fact that Doughty was finally feeling a little worn out. Either way, I'll be impressed if Darryl Sutter can indeed limit his ice time accordingly, but it's not like this is going to be a huge vacation for Doughty. If Doughty played 25 minutes per game last season, he would have ranked ninth in the entire NHL in ice time (instead of first).
One person who would be asked to shoulder some additional responsibility with Doughty getting fewer shifts is, of course, Jake Muzzin. Expected to once again man the top pairing with Doughty, Muzzin spent much of August visiting Doughty's hometown of London to work out with his partner and with other NHLers. What did they practice?
We looked at all our shot attempts and practised getting them through more often. Being more mobile on the blue-line, changing the angles... shooting off different feet. What else can we do instead of making a dead play? We play so many games, you get tendencies and habits... good and bad ones. We worked to change the bad ones.
The defensemen's ability -- or lack of ability -- to get shots through is a factor we've written about a couple times in the past. It'll be interesting to see whether those two, both middle of the pack in terms of getting shots past the blockers and on net, can improve their numbers. (Muzzin had a career-high ten goals last season.)
Bad habits? Making something out of nothing? Those are a little tougher to quantify, but in the cases of both Doughty and Muzzin, fans and coaches alike are probably looking for the pair to reduce turnovers. Will it happen? The problem (for Doughty, at least) is that doing that might entail playing more cautiously. Sure, Doughty's willingness to try and make a play rather than puck-dumping can hurt his team, but his inventiveness creates goals for his own team as well. So I wouldn't expect a noticeable difference in turnovers for Doughty. Muzzin, on the other hand, has already made huge strides in that department, simply with the drop in memorable #DammitMuzzin plays last season.
Don't think that those two are looking to be less aggressive due to the above, though. Muzzin goes on to mention another aspect of their offseason work as "whether you’re leading the rush or the fourth man, being more aggressive — or less — and still being an option." We've seen Muzzin as a fourth man to great effect, while Doughty's led plenty of rushes in his time. If they find a balance and make the right choices on those plays, both can be a lot more effective at both ends.