2010-11 L.A. Kings Season Preview: Hockeywood’s Look at the Defense

In my previous post, I sang the praises of Jonathan Quick for finally giving the team a legit goaltender. And while I don't want to undersell his skills between the pipes, I should point out that his success is a direct reflection of the players in front of him. Make no mistake, defense is this team's calling card. And that conversation starts and ends with Drew Doughty.

Doughty was a finalist for the Calder Trophy for best rookie but lost. Then he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy for top defenseman but lost. Despite being the youngest player on the Canadian Gold Medal-winning team, Doughty was arguably the best player on the ice in Vancouver.

Regardless of why he was off the radar for such individual awards, there's no mistaking his importance to the Kings. This preseason, everyone is spouting off about how Doughty's arrived (Yeah, thanks for noticing, pundits.).

He doubled his career numbers last season (16 G, 43 A) and was the team's second-leading scorer. He provided many defensive highlights and has achieved that all-important "Must-See" status that has been lacking on the ice in L.A. since...well, since Wayne Gretzky graced the ice (Too much? Perhaps...).

Doughty's emergence has overshadowed another player, however—Jack Johnson. At first glance of his stats last season, one may leap out at you—his plus/minus of (-15).

Argue all you want about the importance of the plus-minus, if you didn't think Johnson improved last season, you're nuts. Not only did he post career numbers for the regular season, he was also tied for the lead in playoff points with seven assists.

No other player, outside of Anze Kopitar, has been asked to change his game more than Johnson. But you can tell he finally started to take that next step to become the dynamic player many fans expected when he came to the team in 2006. If for no other reason, his decision to become the only U.S. hockey pla...

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