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Kings' morning skate: Drew Doughty a Norris Trophy finalist, Murray puts Justin Williams back in and changes three lines

This is shaping up as quite a season for Drew Doughty. He has enjoyed his first Olympics (and first gold medal), his first playoff experience and the first time he has been one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best defenseman.

Doughty, who will be 20 years and six months old when the winner is announced in June, is vying to become the second-youngest Norris winner. The youngest was a guy named Bobby Orr, who was 20 years and three months old when he won for the first of eight times.

The other finalists are Washington's Mike Green and Chicago's Duncan Keith. The Norris and other major NHL trophies will be awarded during a televised awards show in June in Las Vegas. The Norris, like many postseason awards, is chosen by voting conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers' Assn.

"It obviously means a lot. Coming in, it's only my second year and being in that category is a pretty amazing feeling," Doughty said after the Kings' game-day skate in preparation for Friday night's playoff game against Vancouver at GM Place.

"Those other two guys that are there obviously had great seasons, and to be in the top three with them is a pretty big honor."

To be younger than any winner other than Orr, he said, was a thrill. "It's pretty cool. Bobby Orr was one of best defensemen to play the game. To be close to doing the same thing that he did is kind of surprising, I guess, to me, but it's very humbling as well."

Doughty said he got the news from Luke Schenn, the brother of King prospect Brayden Schenn, in a text that congratulated him. "I was like, 'For what?' I didn't know they were announcing the finalists today," said Doughty, the Kings' top scorer in this series with two goals and six points. "So he told me and right away I called my dad to look it up on the NHL site to see if it was true, and it was."

He also said being a finalist wasn't on his to-do list for the season.

"Before the season I really didn't think about it at all. My first goal was just to play hard for the Kings and make them a playoff team and then get a shot at making the Olympic team," he said. "As the season wore on, I kind of knew that I was getting mentioned in that category and from then on I made it my goal to hopefully be a finalist."

At least one member of the Canucks, defenseman Shane O'Brien, would nominate Doughty for an award for yapping. O'Brien, who was involved in a shouting match with Vancouver assistant coach Rick Bowness during the second period of his team's 6-4 victory Wednesday in Game 4, said he was fired up because of his ongoing dialog with Doughty and jokingly blamed that incident on the Kings' defenseman.

O'Brien had been jawing at Doughty and followed him toward the Kings' bench; Bowness and Coach Alain Vigneault tried to calm O'Brien but he resisted and didn't simmer down until teammate Roberto Luongo took him aside during a stoppage.

"We should blame Doughty for it, for sure. We should blame a couple of other guys on their team that keep chirping and chirping and chirping," O'Brien said. "It's typical playoff hockey. There's not a lot of fighting in it.... Sometimes they keep talking and talking and I've got to show up and do something.

"As the series gets on, it gets older and older and you try and tune it out. If it was a different situation and a different day there might be more repercussions."

Like if there were no instigator rule?

"If there were a few different rules out there it would be a little different. If it was 1970 here, it would be a little different," O'Brien said. "They're going to continue to talk, we're going to continue to talk. There's a little emotion. The heat's getting higher and higher. That's what playoff hockey's all about."

But O'Brien said Doughty deserved the Norris nomination and said he told Doughty that -- mixed with some four-letter words.

"I said, 'You're a great player. You're a star already. I don't think you need to talk as much as you do here. Let your hockey and your play do the work,'" O'Brien said. "I remember when I was a young kid ... well, I wasn't in the NHL when I was his age. When I was younger you talk maybe more than you should. He's definitely getting under some guys' skins, and I guess that's what he's trying to do."

Another success for Doughty, apparently. "When they get under my skin I like to give it back. I don't like to be the only one getting the chirps, so I'll definitely give it back as much as I can," Doughty said. "I'm not really a tough guy, though, so I don't really have much to back it up with, but I'll definitely feed out a few."

Kings Coach Terry Murray switched three of his four lines, leaving intact only the Ryan Smyth-Anze Kopitar-Wayne Simmonds line. The other combinations are (left to right) Alexander Frolov-Brad Richardson-Dustin Brown; Fredrik Modin-Michal Handzus-Justin Williams; and Richard Clune-Jarret Stoll-Jeff Halpern. The defense will be the same: Rob Scuderi-Doughty; Sean O'Donnell-Matt Greene and Randy Jones-Jack Johnson.

"I changed things a little bit here to get some different looks," Murray said. "I wanted to put Williams back into the lineup tonight. He's a player that's been to the playoffs and has won the Stanley Cup and at this time, in Game 5, we need the experience.

"And I also know that he's very capable of putting the puck in the net. He's a creative guy. He can score goals. He can fit with different lines. We can use him on special-team situations. And I'm looking for a big game from him." 

More later from Game 5 at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

 

 

 
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