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Kings' Doughty eager to make case for Norris Trophy

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA – Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty sounds slightly miffed he's been passed over for the Norris Trophy awarded to the NHL's top defenseman and selected by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

So Doughty, who has won the Stanley Cup twice and two Olympic gold medals, sees an added benefit to the Kings' six-game road trip through the Eastern Conference. He relishes the opportunity to put his game up against Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens in the next two games.

Karlsson won the Norris Trophy in 2012 and 2015, and Subban in 2013.

A trip through the East is a chance for fans and media to see Doughty's game firsthand. He views the games as an opportunity to build a case for Norris consideration.

"I do. This is my chance for the Eastern side of the world to see me play," Doughty said Monday at Canadian Tire Centre. "I know you guys [Los Angeles media] get to see me a lot back home, see what I do night in and night out, but these guys don't.

"I know I'm a completely different kind of defenseman than Erik Karlsson is and P.K. Subban is, too. They play completely different from me, so I really don't even see how I'm comparable to them with the two styles of play. I'm sure those comparisons are going to be made. I just want to show everyone I can play good hockey both ways and that I do deserve to be in those [Norris] talks."

When asked if he thought he "got enough love" when it came to the voting for the Norris Trophy, Doughty replied: "I don't know. It's hard to say. I guess last year some guys just left me off their ballot completely, so I don't see how that's possible. I don't know. I think if I was playing in the East, I would have had a little more love. What can you do?"

There were 157 ballots cast for the Norris Trophy last season. Doughty was runner-up to Karlsson despite having 53 first-place votes to Karlsson's 44.

Karlsson was left off some ballots, too. He was named on 146 ballots and Doughty on 126. Subban, who finished third in the voting, was on 143.

Karlsson and Subban were named to the NHL's First All-Star Team. Doughty made the Second All-Star Team.

Karlsson's 32 points lead NHL defensemen this season. Subban is tied for seventh with 21, and Doughty is 17th with 17.

When asked what makes his game so different from Karlsson's and Subban's, Doughty said: "It's without a doubt, my defensive zone. You watch me, I don't think you'll see either of them on the 5-on-3 [penalty kill] against. I'm the first one out there every single time. Defensively, I play a different game from them. There's no doubt about it.

"They're definitely more involved in offense. I would say their offensive upside, on the power play especially, is probably better than mine. I think that's what the main difference is. I'm just more focused on defense than they are."

Karlsson averages 47 seconds of shorthanded ice time a game, Subban 2:24 and Doughty 2:59.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter is impressed with how well Doughty is playing in a situation where he is being asked to help bring along a defenseman like Brayden McNabb, a 24-year-old with 136 games of NHL experience.

"We're playing a boy like Brayden with him, that's learning how to play, learning the game," Sutter said. "When you think about that … that's Drew Doughty playing, you're having him mentor that player, on the team right now that's got the best goals against in the League.

"Not just this year, that's four or five years being at the top end of goals against. That's just not on a goalie or a system. Not very often Drew has a night where -- actually I can't even think of one -- where the challenges of the checking part of it are not in place. With our defense, how young it is, and Drew is the cornerstone of it."

Though a Norris Trophy would be nice, Doughty said making room for some more championship hardware is his priority.

"I would love to win [the Norris] one day. It's not all I think about, that's for sure," he said. "It's always in the back of my mind. All I really care about is contributing to this L.A. Kings team and hopefully winning some more championships. If we have a good team and I'm playing well then hopefully I get recognized that way. The Norris is an individual trophy and I'm all about team trophies. That's all that matters to me."

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