The Winter Olympics have become Drew Doughty’s time to shine.
He was Canada’s best defenseman as a 20-year-old at the 2010 Vancouver Games when the host nation won the gold medal on home soil, and he’s once again playing a prominent role in the Canadians’ journey toward the medal podium with a phenomenal performance through the preliminary round in Sochi.
Doughty was the No. 1 star in Canada’s 2-1 overtime victory over Finland in Sunday’s final preliminary round game of Group B. The win secured the Canadians the third seed and a berth to the quarterfinals, where they will play the winner of the Switzerland-Latvia qualification round matchup.
The Los Angeles Kings defenseman scored both of his team’s goals Sunday, including the game-winner 2:32 into the extra period (second GIF below). Doughty has scored in each of Canada’s three games, and his four tallies put him in a tie with American forward Phil Kessel for second place among goal scorers in Sochi.
Doughty also has outscored the entire Slovakia (two goals), Norway (three goals) and Switzerland (two goals) teams. To put Doughty’s goal-scoring run in perspective, he’s already matched Brian Rafalski’s Vancouver Olympics-leading total among D-men in three fewer games.
Doughty isn’t the only Kings player dominating offensively in Sochi. Veteran winger Jeff Carter, who scored a hat trick in Canada’s win over Norway on Friday, picked up the primary assist on Doughty’s overtime goal against Finland.
“(Doughty) is full of confidence,” Carter said after Sunday’s game, per Sportsnet. “He’s probably the most skilled player I’ve ever played with.”
It’s a bit of a surprise that two Kings players would lead Team Canada’s offense at the Olympics when Los Angeles ranks 29th in the NHL in goals scored and entered the Olympic break scoring two goals or fewer in nine of its last 11 games.
Doughty’s four goals in three games at the Olympics matches his total from his last 45 NHL games. Carter arrived in Sochi with an 11-game goalless drought, but he’s been dominant for Canada by using the larger Olympic ice to his advantage with speed and a strong net drive.
With several of Canada’s top forwards unable to find the back of the net — six of the team’s 11 goals have been scored by defensemen — Doughty’s scoring production is an encouraging sign for the defending gold medalists as they enter the quarterfinals as the third-best team remaining.
This Canadian team has plenty of room for improvement, but Doughty and Carter already are in top form.
Photo via Twitter.com/LAKings.