EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Anybody who had Jake Muzzin with four goals and Drew Doughty with zero at the 21-game mark of the season should probably head to the nearest casino.
That's where it stands for Doughty, who is still searching for his first goal going into Thursday, when the Los Angeles Kings play the Dallas Stars.
"It's frustrating, obviously," the defenseman said. "It's in my head too often. I want to get that goal really bad. It's not that I'm cheating or doing anything different to try and get it. I'm still just playing my solid defensive game and if I have that opportunity, I'll try to put one in the net. Yeah, it's frustrating, but the coaches are happy with the way I'm playing. If I don't score a goal and we're winning, it really doesn't matter."
For what it's worth, Doughty had two goals through 21 games last season. He seems to be playing better recently with a plus-6 rating over the past six games. Doughty opines that plus-minus is an overrated statistic, but he agrees he's on an uptick.
"Obviously I wasn't happy with all the minuses I was on for earlier in the season," he said. "Now that it's turning around, things are looking better. I'm happy with it and I just want to keep progressing in that direction."
Sutter not pleased with Martinez: The return of Alec Martinez was a welcome sight to the banged-up defense, but coach Darryl Sutter hasn't seen the early returns pay dividends.
Sutter is known for his bluntness and he let it be known he hasn't been happy with the young defenseman's play since Martinez returned from an upper-body injury Monday.
"He's struggled," Sutter said after the morning skate. "When he got hurt … the team was not playing as well as they should have, and he has to be a bigger part of the solution if he wants to stay in the lineup."
Martinez was forced to take on more responsibility earlier this season because of injuries to Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. But the improved play of Muzzin, who plays with Doughty on the first defensive pairing, has allowed Sutter to put Martinez in the third pairing, with Keaton Ellerby.
Martinez was a plus-1 in a win Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, but he was credited with two giveaways in 11:16 of ice time. Sutter added that Martinez will get better, but it sounded like that had better happen soon.
"He's a young player that hasn't played much in this League," Sutter said. "My job is to teach them and make sure they're prepared to compete, but if they don't learn and they don't compete, then they're going to have trouble with me in terms of how much they play and if they play."
Thursday's projected lineup for the Kings:
Dustin Brown – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Dustin Penner – Mike Richards – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Colin Fraser – Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Rob Scuderi – Slava Voynov
Alec Martinez – Keaton Ellerby
Scratched: Brad Richardson, Davis Drewiske
Injured: Matt Greene (back), Willie Mitchell (knee)
Quick is expected to start. He is 13-3-2 with a 2.16 goals-against average against the Stars.