Drew Doughty's Down Year

Down year? Maybe. Bad year? Nope. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Some numbers:

In 2009-10, Drew Doughty played 82 games.

In 2010-11, Drew Doughty played 76 games.

In 2009-10, Doughty played the 2nd hardest minutes of any defenseman on the Kings.

In 2010-11, Doughty played the 2nd hardest minutes of any defenseman on the Kings.

In 2009-10, Doughty averaged 18 1/2 even-strength minutes per game, highest on the team.

In 2010-11, Doughty averaged 19 1/2 even strength minutes per game, highest on the team.

 

In 2009-10, Doughty was on the ice for 1.90 Goals Against/60 minutes, 4th best among defensemen.

In 2010-11, Doughty was on the ice for 2.26 Goals Against/60 minutes, 5th best among defensemen.

In 2009-10, Doughty was on the ice for 2.66 Goals For/60 minutes, best among defensemen.

In 2010-11, Doughty was on the ice for 2.99 Goals For/60 minutes, best among defensemen.

In 2009-10, Doughty had a +/- of .79/60 minutes, best among defensemen.

In 2010-11, Doughty had a +/- of .73/60 minutes, 2nd best among defensemen.

(It's not all numbers, there are talky parts after the jump)

In 2009-10, Doughty scored 1.1 points/60 minutes of ice time, highest among defensemen.

In 2010-11, Doughty scored .98 points/60 minutes of ice time, highest among defensemen.

In 2009-10, Doughty took .8 penalties/60 minutes of ice time, 4th highest among defensemen.

In 2010-11, Doughty took 1 penalty/60 minutes of ice time, 2nd highest among defensemen.

 

In 2009-10, Doughty had 4.31 points/60 minutes when on the power play, 2nd highest among defensemen.

In 2010-11, Doughty had 2.57 points/60 minutes when on the power play, 3rd highest among defensemen.

 

In 2009-10, the Kings were a plus team when he was on the ice and a minus team when he was off.

In 2010-11, the Kings were a plus team when he was on the ice and a minus team when he was off.

 

Differences between 2009-10 and 2010-11:

Doughty was on the ice for less goals against in 2009-10 and more goals for in 2010-11.

Despite being on the ice for more goals for in 2010-11, his points/60 went down .1. I don't know if that means anything or not.

Doughty's role didn't change; he played about a minute more at even strength, that's the only real difference. He played shutdown minutes and occasionally took a shift with the 4th line to try and score. His most common linemate changed, from Rob Scuderi to Willie Mitchell. I don't know if that means anything or not.

The biggest difference between Doughty's 2nd and 3rd seasons come on the power play. The Kings' power play was far worse last year than it was in 2009-10; they scored 56 PP goals in 09-10 and only 41 in 10-11. The components of the power play have been the same the last 2 years so the Kings' true power play ability probably lies somewhere in between those 2 totals. I'm guessing that Doughty's 31 PP points in 2009-10 was luck and his 15 PP points last season was bad luck. He'll probably land somewhere in the middle next season.

Overall, did Drew Doughty have a down year compared to 2009-10? Yes, I think it's fair to say that. It was a marginal drop off but there is a drop off.

 

But why:

Last year was the 3rd year in Terry Murray's system. I think you can summarize the past 3 seasons for Drew Doughty and the Kings' other elite player, Anze Kopitar, like this:

1st Year: Learn the system

2nd Year: Perfect the system

3rd Year: Transcend the system

In 2009-10, I think we saw Drew Doughty as good as he could possibly be within a set structure. Last season, we saw him learn how to play within and yet above that structure. Watch Duncan Keith, or Scott Niedermayer, or Rob Blake, and see how often they are what you would call "out of position" but it's OK because the coach has trust that they'll get back. Doughty knows the rules of the system and now he's learning when it's OK to break those rules.

Anze Kopitar learned how to play within and yet above that structure last season and the results were amazing: Kopitar had by far his best even strength performance since he came into the league without sacrificing, and even improving, his defense. Doughty wasn't quite as successful as Kopitar: his defense went down a little, as did his points, while he took a few more penalties and a few more liberties with officials (as elite players are allowed to do).

But that's OK. He's 21. Last season, you could see Doughty was trying by doing unconventional things on defense (fronting his man in front of the net & gambling on 2-on-1's) and offense (carrying the puck all the to the opponent's circles & big,delayed wind-ups on his point shots). He needs to learn when it's OK for him to do these things and when he needs to rein himself in and play the system. It will eventually click for Doughty, probably as soon as next year. And when it does, it's going to be a hell of a thing to watch.

 

One more thing:

Defensemen who played shutdown minutes and scored 25+ even strength points last season:

-Lubomir Visnovsky

-John Carlson

-Brent Burns

-Shea Weber

-Dustin Byfuglien

-Alex Pietrangelo

-Zdeno Chara

-Brent Seabrook

-Kris Letang

-Drew Doughty

 

It was still a pretty good year. He could play like he did last year for the rest of his career and he'd be a $6 million defenseman. He might have had a down year but he sure as hell didn't have a bad one.

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