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Doughty eager to play major minutes for Kings

Los Angeles will lean on defenseman in Game 2 against San Jose if Martinez is out

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The return of defenseman Alec Martinez to the Los Angeles Kings lineup didn't last long. So, most likely, Drew Doughty's night in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round on Saturday will get much longer.

Martinez returned in Game 1 on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks but sustained an apparent lower-body injury in the second period while blocking a shot. He did not play in the third period of the 4-3 loss that gave San Jose the lead in the best-of-7 series.

Martinez missed the final four games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury. If he can't play Saturday at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, FS-W, CSN-CA), the onus will fall on Doughty to play even more because the Kings are not as deep on the blue line as in the Stanley Cup seasons of 2012 and 2014.

Martinez did not take part in the optional skate Friday and the Kings did not update his status for Game 2.

Not that it matters to Doughty. He is ready to play however many minutes it takes Saturday, and beyond.

"He just told me how good he felt [Thursday] night," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Friday. "Usually when he says that, he's thinking about more is better. Which is awesome to have a player like that who wants that and who can handle that.''

Actually, Doughty is eager to do much more.

As for went wrong in Game 1, Doughty came to the realization that, as one of their top players, he has to do more to give the Kings a good chance in this series, which many see as a coin flip between two of the best teams in the West.

"I'm ready for whatever, if [Martinez] can't play," Doughty said. "If I need to play 30 minutes, that's great. If not, if I play 25 minutes, either way I have to play the same way.

"I have to be more emotionally involved in the game. I can play better than I did [Thursday] night and I can lead us better than I did. Next game I've got to step up and do that."

Doughty had a regular season that makes him worthy of consideration for the Norris Trophy, especially considering the Kings' depth issues on defense.

Twelve defensemen played for the Kings this season as they tried to find a top six they are comfortable with. The big four -- Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Martinez and Brayden McNabb -- have been consistent all season, but filling the final two spots has been a season-long project. Veteran Rob Scuderi and Luke Schenn, each acquired in trades, are in those slots.

Video: SJS@LAK, Gm1: Doughty plays goalie to deny a score

If Martinez is out, Jamie McBain would be the most likely candidate to replace him. McBain averaged a little more than 12 minutes a game in his 44 this season. He can't fully make up for the 21:09 Martinez averaged.

"[Thursday] night, there was a difference in the game when we went down to five defensemen, clearly. Because it's hard," Sutter said. "You'd rather spread it out the most you can, but when you're top-heavy with a guy like Drew and [Muzzin], they're going to have to play more. That's going to be our best chance of winning."

Doughty said he believes the Kings need to even the series before it moves to San Jose for Game 3 on Monday, and he knows his ability to play as many minutes as possible gives Los Angeles the best chance to do so.

"The sense of urgency steps up. Not that it shouldn't have been there [Thursday]," Doughty said. "They are up one and they only have three more to go if they want to close it out. Our urgency needs to step up and we need to win this next game. It's a must-win, a home game, and we don't want to go to San Jose down 2-0 or we will be in trouble."

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