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Drew Doughty piling up the points since being named to Team Canada

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

The excitement of being selected to Team Canada doesn't appear to have worn off for Drew Doughty.

The 20-year-old Los Angeles Kings could hardly sleep leading up to the Dec. 30 announcement and ended up being one of Steve Yzerman's boldest selections for the Olympic team. He's responded extremely well to that vote of confidence, having accumulated more points (eight) than anyone else on Team Canada from the time the roster was announced through Sunday's games.

Not bad for a guy who was tossing and turning in bed just two weeks ago.

"I was pretty nervous," Doughty said after being named to the team. "I didn't really know what my chances were. I knew I had an outside shot. Making it is definitely a big surprise, I'm just so excited."

He ended up getting held off the scoresheet that night in Calgary before putting up eight assists over the following five games. That streak included a four-assist game in San Jose on Jan. 4 - the most productive night of his brief NHL career.

Interestingly, two of Canada's other defencemen have also been putting up nice offensive numbers since Yzerman selected them to the team. Chicago's Duncan Keith and Philadelphia's Chris Pronger both have seven points over that stretch, with Keith having moved to within two points of his career-high of 44 with almost half a season to go.

It's no coincidence that there are so many blue-liners with offensive tendencies on the Olympic team. The Canadian squad that finished seventh at the Games four years ago seemed to be missing that element.

"We had trouble moving the puck on the big ice (in Turin), I guess would be the best way to describe it," said Kevin Lowe, a member of Yzerman's management team. "Now we've come almost full-circle in terms of making an emphasis on guys who can move the puck, get it in the hands of the forwards. ...

"We think we have that in this group."

Flyers captain Mike Richards has been the hottest of the 13 forwards selected to the team, scoring three goals and collecting seven points in six games. He'll likely be called on to fill more of a checking role in Vancouver.

Sidney Crosby has four goals since receiving a call from Yzerman to bring his season total to 27 - leaving him third overall in the league and within reach of the 50-goal plateau. San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau has also been producing, putting up goals in four straight to lift his NHL-leading total to 29.

Things haven't been going quite so well for Sharks teammate Joe Thornton.

When the Olympic team was selected, he was the NHL's leading scorer after averaging almost two points a game over the previous month. He's cooled off since, putting up four points in six games while surrendering the scoring lead to Vancouver's Henrik Sedin.

The past couple weeks have done nothing to suggest that Martin Brodeur won't be the team's No. 1 goalie. He's gone 4-2-0 with two shutouts. Vancouver's Roberto Luongo also has four wins over that stretch.

Everything appears to be looking good on the injury front. Ryan Getzlaf made a return to the Anaheim Ducks lineup after missing four games with a deep cut to his right leg while Patrice Bergeron was able to breathe a sigh of relief after taking a puck to the hand.

The Boston Bruins forward suffered a thumb injury on the play and could return as soon as next week. He's been able to continue skating during his recovery.

"I didn't know what to expect but the doctor gave me some good news so I was pretty happy," Bergeron told reporters last week. "It's never good to be injured and be off the ice but at least, in that case, it was good news."

Yzerman is able to make injury replacements right up until Feb. 15 - the day before Canada opens the Olympic tournament against Norway.

If he has to turn to a fill-in, a number of players have continued to produce since being overlooked on Dec. 30: Washington Capitals defenceman Mike Green has five points in as many games, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jeff Carter has seven points in six games, Tampa's Steven Stamkos has seven points in five games and Kings winger Ryan Smyth, known as Captain Canada, scored goals in four straight.



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