When the Canadian Olympic hockey team received the Gold medal on Feb 23, 2014, it was clear that as suspected, they were the best team in the tournament. The other by-product may directly benefit the Los Angeles Kings. Defenseman Drew Doughty may have finally found "Beast mode".
Relative to the sporting world, "Beast mode" is a term made famous by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, to describe his entering into a mindset where he feels he is unstoppable.
Ever since Doughty burst onto the scene as an 18 year-old rookie in 2008, the Kings' faithful have been waiting for him to take it to the next level, and reach truly elite status as one of the top five defensemen in the NHL. Doughty has shown flashes, and has played well in some pretty lengthy stretches, but there has always been the feeling that there is more.
The wait may be over:
In the recently concluded Winter Olympics, Drew Doughty was clearly one of the best, if not the best player on the entire star-studded Team Canada roster. When the team was having trouble scoring, it was he who carried the load. Not just carrying the puck during regular shifts, he also quarterbacked the power play, and made smart decisions time after time. He was able to generate offense without becoming a liability on defense.
Doughty, and Erik Karlsson (Sweden) of the Ottawa Senators, were the two defensemen named to the "All-tournament team" of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Both players registered 4 goals.
We have seen this type of play from Doughty before, but this was the first time he had really been afforded the opportunity to carry a great team to the promised land.
This may prove to have been an invaluable experience:
With the NHL regular season winding down, the Kings have found themselves scoring-impaired. The time Doughty spent in the Olympics, carrying the puck against the best players in the world, could ultimately make him a true difference maker down the stretch. That is experience which one cannot get in practice, and the goal-oriented focus required to get the Olympic Gold medal is similar to a playoff run. Doughty was also on the 2010 Olympic team, but that was Doughty the pupil. The pupil may have now become the master.
The upcoming Wednesday night game in Colorado against the Avalanche this week, should be a good test. Playing against a good-skating team like the Avs, should show much about Doughty's recent progress.
Becoming a great player is not only about God-given talent, it is also about confidence, desire, and attitude.
Kings fans should be highly optimistic.
When all is said and done, these Olympics may will be remembered as Doughty's transcendent moment.
C - Mikael Granlund (Finland)
W - Phil Kessel* (Team USA)
W - Teemu Selanne (Finland) - Also named MVP by the Media
D - Drew Doughty (Team Canada)
D - Erik Karlsson** (Sweden)
G - Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden)
*IIHF named Kessel best forward of the Tournament
**IIHF named Karlsson most outstanding defenseman of the Tournament
IIHF named Carey Price (Team Canada) most outstanding goaltender