St. Louis Coach Ken Hitchcock says Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has been… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock had plenty of words of praise for the Kings' top two centers, Dustin Brown and Mike Richards. But he singled out Kings defenseman Drew Doughty as the best player through the first three games of this series.
"I think the biggest thing that he does is absorb checks, gets the puck out on his own," Hitchcock said Saturday afternoon after Blues' practice. "That’s what [Alex] Pietrangelo [of the Blues] does. It’s a very unique skill. Certain defensemen, there’s maybe 10 guys in the whole league that can do it. And Doughty and Pietrangelo are the two guys.
"They can absorb a check and lug out the puck out themselves. You can’t find that very often. That what he [Doughty] does. You think you’ve got him. He pulls away on you. You think you’ve got him pinned on the boards, he pulls it off the boards and makes the play. Both guys are great at it."
Doughty and Kings teammate Trevor Lewis went to the Angels-Blue Jays game at Angel Stadium on Friday night. Anaheim might be Ducks country, but Doughty said the level of recognition at the game was the most he had received since he has been in Southern California.
"We’ve never had this support, and it’s great to see, and it just makes us want to go even further and win even more," Doughty said. "I've lived here for four years, and the first couple of years you could do anything you wanted around where we lived -- just walking around, go for dinner -- no one's going to bother you or talk to you, but now it's a whole different story.
"We're making a presence in L.A., and we're loving it, but like I said, we don't want to stop here."
The Blues are modifying their lineup with two small changes. Defenseman Ian Cole will replace defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, and there will be a swap of fourth-liners, Ryan Reaves in for B.J. Crombeen.
Game 4 will be at noon at Staples Center, and Hitchcock took note of some of the initial woes in the Rangers-Capitals afternoon game Saturday.
"You saw one team was really dozy today in the 12:30 game in Washington, at the start," Hitchcock said. "Really dozy. And I sure as hell hope it ain’t us. Because if it’s us, it’s over."
Kings going into Game 4 with eyes wide open
Drew Doughty and Kings having an awesome time
Helene Elliott: Kings' Game 3 victory is a reward to their fans
Blues' coach says Kings Drew Doughty has been best player