Peter Harrold steps into lineup as Kings begin stretch without Drew Doughty
To start with, you don’t easily find a substitute for a player of Drew Doughty’s caliber.
And while the talented defenseman sits out a minimum of seven days with what is believed to be a concussion, every member of the Kings will have to do his own job a bit better — or in some cases, a lot better.
Peter Harrold will take Doughty’s spot tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes, the season debut for hockey’s version of a baseball utility infielder — Harrold can play forward or defense and is useful in a pinch.
In a few days, perhaps as soon as Saturday’s game at Colorado if he emerges from Friday’s practice in good shape, Matt Greene will return following off-season shoulder surgery.
But no one alone can replace the 24-plus minutes a game Doughty was averaging before he collided with Carolina’s Erik Cole in the first period of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. No one has the unique mix of power and finesse that has made Doughty a Norris trophy runnerup and budding superstar.
The message, Coach Terry Murray said, is clear.
"Play your own game," he said. "That’s the most important thing. We’re not looking for anyone to step in and replace Drew Doughty.
"We want Peter Harrold to step in and play his game — move the puck, get it up the ice, get a north attitude all night and I think we can make the adjustments where forwards are going to reload and put back pressure and check harder. That, hopefully, will compensate for the loss of Doughty."
Murray said Harrold is “ready to go. He’s been working hard. He hasn’t had an opportunity since the start of the year and I know he’ll perform very well for us.”
Doughty’s absence will likely be felt keenly on the power play. Last season he tied for second among defensemen with nine power-play goals and was second in power-play points, with 31.
"That’s a concern," Murray said. "Again, Peter Harrold can play some power play but I’ve got to get more from other people. Jack [Johnson] is going to have to play more minutes. Jarret Stoll is
going to have to be out there more. And [Jake] Muzzin, who’s wading into the game at the NHL level, he might have to step up a little bit more. He’s had some power-play time but he’ll take more of a bigger bite on that and hopefully we can put it all together and get some good results.'
Murray also said he couldn’t tell if Doughty’s encounter with Cole was legal or merited punishment from the NHL. Several sources said the league is not going to impose supplementary discipline because officials who review such plays couldn't reach a consensus on whether it was a hit or accidental contact, or on whether it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit as opposed to the headshots that the league wants to ban.
Murray said he wasn’t sure at the time the play occurred and that the only replay he saw was not from an optimal angle.
"The contact happens a long time after the puck has been moved but Drew is recovering. He’s coming towards where the puck is on the counter. My look at it from the TV look, it’s inconclusive really," he said.
"I can’t tell. I saw it happen but it happened so quickly you don’t have that slow–motion view of it, obviously, and I don’t have any other look other than the high-end camera.
“It’s a close call. It’s very close. I know we want to get those head hits out of the game. I know that Cole has been through a tough time in his career with other things, with other hits, in Pittsburgh with [Brooks] Orpik. I mean it’s a close one. It’s up to the league to make the call on that one. I really don’t have an opinion one way or the other."
The Cole-Orpik incident Murray is referring to took place in March 2006. Orpik hit Cole viciously from behind, and Cole suffered two broken vertebrae. Orpik got a boarding penalty, a game misconduct and a three-game suspension. Cole missed the rest of the regular season and all but two games of the Hurricanes’ Stanley Cup run.
Murray also said that Jonathan Quick, who is in net at Phoenix tonight, will be back in net Saturday at Colorado. However, he said he will get Jonathan Bernier into a game on this trip.
Finally, a note about "upper-body injuries" and other hockey terminology:
The NHL does not require teams to disclose the nature of players’ injuries. In fact, it permits and even encourages vagueness in these cases on the grounds that stating where a player is sore might encourage opponents to target that player’s injury in the future. That’s why you hear "upper-body injury" and "lower-body injury" and jokes about how a broken arm could be classified as upper-body if it’s in a sling and lower-body if a player is holding his arm by his side.
The Kings are saying only that Doughty as an upper-body injury. But all signs point to a concussion, including comments from Rob Scuderi to the Los Angeles Daily News, information from various sources and simple observation of what happened.
General Manager Dean Lombardi’s statement Thursday that Doughty will be out a “minimum of seven days” adds credence to that theory because a week of inactivity is the protocol for players who suffer head injuries and then fail tests of their cognitive skills. After that week, players can resume activity and be tested again, with the results compared to baseline tests done before the season.
We’ll get more from Lombardi later tonight.
--Helene Elliott in Glendale, Ariz.