NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Los Angeles Kings all-star defenseman Drew Doughty:
Every bit of success and experience changes a player. Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty can testify to that. He feels the weight of it too.
Doughty has won nearly everything there is to win as an NHL player, from the Stanley Cup twice to two Olympic gold medals, a World Cup of Hockey championship and a Norris Trophy. He'll also be taking part in his third consecutive All-Star Game in the place he now calls home when the NHL descends on Los Angeles starting Friday for 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.
All of the accolades, the trophies and championships and honors, have helped turn Doughty, 27 years old and in his ninth NHL season, into one of the Kings' most important and impactful leaders on the ice and off.
Video: LAK@NYI: Doughty buries long wrister through traffic
"Yeah definitely, and I've learned a lot over the years from other leaders that we've had on our team," Doughty said. "I've learned that not only what I do on the ice is important for our team, it's what I do off the ice, how I help the young guys and how I carry myself. I think I lead in different ways than other guys do. I'm not the biggest rah-rah guy. I'm more of the guy who kind of keep the room relaxed and loose and like to have fun with it. Probably my best leadership quality is I compete as hard as I possibly can every night and come to play every night."
It's unfair to say the Kings need Doughty, complete with his world-class play and top notch leadership, now more than ever because they've always needed him since he was an 18-year-old rookie in the 2008-09 season. But there's no question Doughty will play an essential role if the Kings are to get out of their standings hole this season.
The Kings have lost four games in a row, all in regulation, and aren't currently in a Stanley Cup Playoff position entering their game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, FS-W, NHL.TV).
Doughty talked to NHL.com about why and what he thinks they can do about it in a wide-ranging interview before a 3-2 loss against the New York Rangers on Monday.
Here are Five Questions with … Drew Doughty:
Let's start with what's coming up later this week, the All-Star experience at Staples Center. You've been to All-Star Weekends before, but this one is at your home rink. What do you think it will be like and how different will it be from the others?
"It's awesome. Obviously not having to travel is always a bonus, but having it in L.A., I think will be great. A lot of the things outside of the actual All-Star Game will be a lot of fun too. It's going to be cool because it's in L.A. The players will have a lot of different things to do when they have down time, which is important because everyone else in the League besides the All-Stars are getting a break and having some fun. So, that's good. Playing in front of my home fans, that will be cool. I'll have them on my side and we're going to try to win it again, the Pacific Division. This format is much better. You basically can look really foolish if you don't give it 100 percent out there. You can't hide on the ice at 3-on-3, so you're going to have to be giving it the whole time and that causes us to play hard and put on a good show for the fans and the NHL."
OK let's go to the Kings, who obviously have been inconsistent this season and aren't currently in a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Granted, we're not even at the All-Star break yet so we'll take that for what it means, but what has to change here, what has to get more consistent? Why aren't you guys where you want to be right now?
"I think there's a lot of things that factor into it. Our special teams have to be more consistent. Our PK and our power play, they both get hot at some points and then they kind of get off track and we're not as successful. That's causing us to lose games. And then of course, the one thing we always seem to talk about with the Kings is us not scoring as many goals. We have to bear down and score goals in the dirty areas, get tips, rebounds, whatever it is. We need to be better at that. We're pretty good at getting lots of shots for the most part, but we would like to get more 'A' chances, more chances in the scoring areas and like I said, putting in rebounds, stuff like that. We're not doing that hard enough. It's hard to score in this league, and some of the best goal scorers in the League do most of their work right in front of the blue paint. We need more of that."
Video: DAL@LAK: Doughty tallies PPG with blistering slapper
Anze Kopitar has obviously had his struggles in the scoring department this season with four goals, and Tyler Toffoli hasn't played since before Christmas. Those are two of your best offensive players. Does that impact you and the offense you may have to provide for the team? Do you feel an extra burden to produce?
"I don't think I feel an extra burden to produce. I'm going to go out there and play my normal game and obviously try to play at the highest level I can play at. My normal game, I always focus on defense first and playing good against the other team's top line, shutting them down. Of course if I have those opportunities offensively, I'm going to try to create them. I obviously want to create as much as I can offensively to try to help us win, but I don't think I'm putting any added pressure on myself because [Toffoli] and [Kopitar] aren't putting up the numbers right now. Now, [Kopitar] is still playing well. I'm not worried about him. Obviously [Kopitar] wants to be scoring more, that's obvious, but he's playing well defensively. He plays well every game. He's just not getting the bounces right now. He needs to stay positive with it and eventually the bounces will come to him and then he's going to get hot. I think by the end of the season, he'll be right back in the top of our team for points and goals because he's going to get hot. It's just a matter of time when you have that type of skill and that type of competitiveness.
"I know we have the talent on our team to score more goals, it's just about bearing down and doing it now."
Are there any signs or indications that allow you to realistically think, 'You know, we've got a run in us?'
"Oh yeah, we fully believe that we can do this. There's no doubt about it, not only getting a playoff spot, but getting higher up in our division to get one of those top three spots in our division. That's still in target. We still have a chance at it. We fully believe we have a great team, great guys in the room and guys that believe. We believe we can turn this around and we will. We have a lot of experience on our team. Our leaders need to step up and play their best and the other guys will all follow."
Video: SJS@LAK: Doughty buries PPG from top of circle
I remember you saying something at the World Cup about the Olympics to the effect of, 'We want to go, but we understand it's a business.' What do you think of the debate now about if the NHL should go to South Korea in 2018? What do you think of it all?
"You know, I haven't really even followed it, to be honest. For me, it's whatever happens, happens. Obviously I'd love to play in the Olympics and represent my country again, but whatever happens, happens. I would probably rather play in it, but with these World Cups and then Olympics and the long season, it's a lot of hockey, so I'm good either way."