-- Drew Doughty
is one of the many Kings who will taste the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time Thursday when Los Angeles takes on Vancouver in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series (10 p.m ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).
But he's far from your typical playoff first-timer.
The second-year, 20-year-old defenseman isn't a wide-eyed neophyte when it comes to pressure-packed situations. He showed his maturity level when he won a roster spot with the Kings as an 18-year-old rookie, then played a big role during Canada's gold-medal run at the Winter Olympics by logging 18:08 of ice time per game.
No one, especially not Kings coach Terry Murray
, expects Doughty to be overwhelmed by this new stage.
"I expect Drew Doughty
to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the way he played for Canada in the Olympics," Murray said. "He knows how to get himself ready for the big games, he knows how to step up at the right time. Tremendous amount of composure. You go right back to the first training camp with that one and you see him step onto the ice as an 18-year-old and he's just ready to play hockey.
"This is another step in his career. He's had lots of exposure at the international level and I see him playing a lot of minutes and having a big bite in this series."
Doughty, a native of London, Ontario, looked ready to go following the Kings' morning practice at GM Place.
"I'm pumped. It's going to be a lot of fun," Doughty said. "It's going to be pretty crazy and a lot of fun. I'm a little nervous, first playoff game you don't know what to expect. But it also will be a lot fun."
It won't be all fun, though. Doughty will likely see his fair share of time against the Canucks' top line of Henrik Sedin
, Daniel Sedin
and Alex Burrows. The Kings' second-leading scorer this season with 59 points was a plus-20 in 82 games, but he wasn't at his best in four games the Canucks. He had just two assists and was a minus-four.
While Doughty might not know exactly what to expect in the playoffs, he knows the challenge that awaits him.
"Obviously they're two of the best players in the League," Doughty said of the Sedin twins. "They work so well together. That's obviously one of our keys to shut them down."
But he wouldn't tip his hand about whether he'd be part of the group responsible for shutting down the dynamic scoring duo.
"It's tough on the road. You can't really match up lines," Doughty said. "Maybe we'll have a different game plan when we get home, but right now we're playing all six 'D' and whoever is out there against them is just going to have to shut them down."
Kings defenseman Sean O'Donnell
has the most playoff experience on the Kings with 87 games. He's watched Doughty develop up close the past two seasons and doesn't believe he's your average youngster who will have the deer-in-the-headlights look on his face when the puck drops Thursday.
"Everyone questioned Drew Doughty
.'What's he going to be like in the Olympics? Did Canada make the right choice?' I think they did OK," he said with a hint of sarcasm. "What's Drew Doughty
going to be like in his first playoff game? I think he's going to be OK. I think that his whole life it seems like every time someone's had a question about him he's answered the bell pretty well. And I don't expect anything different.
"When he's on the ice, he seems like a guy that's been around a while. When he's off the ice, he's 12-years-old, he's got that kid personality, he's having fun with guys, he acts like a kid. He's been in big situations. I have to think the pressure of that gold-medal game in Canada is as big as you're going to get than any Stanley Cup Playoff Final at all. We're not worrying about him at all."
Doughty, though, was true to his reputation of having a veteran quality to him despite having been a teenager a mere four months ago. The Olympics are one thing, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are an entirely different animal.
"It's a whole different level of hockey. I guess you can kind of compare it to the Olympics," Doughty said. "But even that, it's so much different than from playoff hockey."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL