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Doughty Gets Back On the Ice

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

Drew Doughty didn’t practice Friday afternoon, but he certainly did work.

Doughty, out of the Kings’ lineup since he suffered an injury last Saturday in Philadelphia, did conditioning skating and practice drills with assistant coach John Stevens for 30 minutes after the full-team practice.

Because he is on the injured-reserve list, Doughty cannot return to the game roster until at least Tuesday’s home game against New Jersey.  That would be in line with the initial 7-to-10 day estimate for Doughty’s return, although it’s far from certain that Doughty could be ready to play by Tuesday.

``I’m feeling a lot better,’’ Doughty said. ``Compared to right after the game, the difference is dramatic, with how much better I’ve been.  I think I’ve been making fast progress. I don’t really have a day back to shoot for yet, but hopefully I can be back for that game Tuesday.

``I don’t really know yet, just because so much can change in a couple days. That’s my goal, but at the same time I don’t want to rush back and re-injure myself or anything like that.’’

Doughty also skated Thursday in El Segundo while the Kings played in Phoenix and, barring any setbacks, he will continue to skate and do drills in the coming days.

``I was shooting a little bit yesterday,’’ Doughty said. ``They’ve just been skating me hard and working me out hard. It’s almost harder being injured. You do a lot more work and you’re at the rink for a lot longer too. It’s definitely really hard to come back from an injury, mentally and physically.’’

Jonathan Quick will get the start when the Kings host Dallas on Saturday night, and Quick’s 0.97 goals-against average and .967 save percentage indicate that he’s having no trouble stopping the puck.

Quick is also handling the puck better, head coach Terry Murray said. Over the past couple seasons, the Kings have periodically run into trouble when Quick, outside his crease, made a questionable play while handling the puck, but Murray said communication and execution have improved in that area.

``The one thing that I see, that he’s just a little sharper on, is the puck being played outside of the net,’’ Murray said. ``He’s getting it off his stick right away. Last year, we were kind of caught in between. Part of the issue is that the ‘D’ don’t talk to the goalie.
They’re the guys that are coming back. They’ve got to let the goalie know where they want the puck moved to, or left, and right now with Quicker, the communication is good and he’s getting the puck off his stick right away. He’s not lingering behind the net, and that transitions the puck out pretty good. That’s an improvement on that part of the game.’’

Quick agreed, and said the improvement was a combination of improved communication with his defensemen as well as simply a maturation and better familiarity on the ice.

``It’s a little bit of both,’’ Quick said. ``Obviously it’s a small sample to take from, only five games, but I think, as a team, we made a big push toward making sure that got corrected, and we’ve been doing that as efficient as possible. The coaching staff made sure that it was something important to take care of in training camp and that we did a lot of, and everybody has responded.’’

Power-play improvement was an area stressed from the start of training camp, and so far it seems to be paying off. It’s still early, of course, but entering Friday’s games, the Kings were tied for fourth in the NHL with a 26.1-percent success rate on the power play.

``Overall, yeah, 5-on-4 has been pretty good,’’ Murray said. ``There’s been some good momentum built off power plays, and that’s something that we were lacking last year. We were constantly going back and playing stops and starts between the goal line and the offensive blue line.

``This year, we’re getting more time, a better attitude with possession plays. We’re getting some good looks in those 5-on-4 situations. To me, that’s a real positive and we’ll just keep pushing on it.’’

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