LOS ANGELES -- Drew Doughty has Olympic dreams.
However, the Los Angeles Kings defenceman knows it'll be a tall task for a second-year NHLer.
“I know sometimes there are Hockey Canada guys scouting and watching the games, but I try to keep it out of my head,” Doughty said before facing the Calgary Flames Monday night. “Obviously, I want to make that team in any way, shape or form, but they have a lot of great d-men going for that team, a couple of guys on Calgary, so it’ll be tough to be a young guy and make that team.”
Still, Doughty — the London, Ont, product who will celebrate his 20th birthday Tuesday — left the August orientation camp in Calgary a better player, a reason he hasn’t fallen to a sophomore slump.
“I learned a lot from it,” Doughty said. “Being invited to that camp really boosted my confidence. It made me feel like I could do those things I was timid to do last year, being a rookie. This year, I feel, because I’m more confident, I can do more things.
“It’s kind of shocking I was there. I remember making some passes to guys and I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m on the same ice trying to make the same team, and Team Canada at that.’ It was surprising for me being there, but I took in every moment of it.”
He’s parlayed the knowledge into a strong season.
Heading into Monday night’s clash, Doughty had collected 22 points, which put him in fifth spot among the NHL’s blueliners, and tied for second spot among defencemen with seven goals.
All while posting a plus-9 rating.
“To do what he’s doing now is impressive. He’s a good player,” said Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, who is also in the Olympic mix. “When you come in as an 18-year-old, it can go one of two ways. You come to a team that’s young and you get an opportunity, it’s good as long as they don’t throw you to the wolves. You need guys to help you along. He’s been able to handle it.”
Doughty has flourished.
“Not that guys are really keying on me but I’m getting hit a lot more,” he said of the differences between his two seasons. “Everyone’s really finishing their checks on me. Guys are chirping at me after the whistle or from the bench, stuff like that. It’s just little things.
“I think they’re harder on me. No one knew what kind of player I was last year, and I kinda just did my thing.”
Goal scoring is a new twist to his repertoire.
He’s already surpassed last season’s tally total, and not because he’s playing in more offensive situations.
The difference, he insists, is changing sticks. During the World Championships, he took a look at what Ottawa centre Mike Fisher uses and made a switch.
“It would probably be illegal under the old rules,” Doughty said. “It’s more of a forward’s curve, so at first I couldn’t pick up a pass on my backhand or make a flat pass, but after the summer I got used to it.”
Big curves usually mean higher shots, which means a defenceman can find himself firing field goals over the glass instead of hitting the net.
“Oh, I do that sometimes, if I get it on the wrong spot,” Doughty said with a laugh. “I’ve shot them over the glass on one-timers. It was tough to get used to, but it’s working. My shot isn’t that hard, but last year, with my old curve, I was taking shots along the ice and not getting it up in time.
"With this, I’m starting to shoot higher from the point and that’s why pucks are going in for me.”