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NHL Power Rankings: Week 8: Southern California Edition

A look at the young defensemen on the Ducks and Kings.

Cam Fowler has been a pleasant surprise for the Anaheim Ducks this season.
Cam Fowler has been a pleasant surprise for the Anaheim Ducks this season.

First Place!


Anaheim Ducks

Last week: 2-1


Cam Fowler dropped all the way down to 13th overall in the NHL draft this past June because of concerns about his ability to handle the NHL game. Umm...

2010 - Cam Fowler 20 2 10 12 -8 4 1 0 1 32

I think he's doing OK.

Fowler has been a surprise in this season so far. Everyone knew he could move the puck, sure, but I don't think anyone expected Fowler to be this comfortable at the NHL level. Fowler has been criticized for being soft, and he is admittedly fairly weak, but that doesn't matter if he's always in position and breaking the play up with his stick.

Fowler has been paired with a veteran like Paul Mara or Andy Sutton most of the season, someone who can both clear the front of the net better than Fowler and also protect him from the other team in case they start taking runs. So far it's worked pretty well and the Ducks haven't shielded Fowler from tough competition (although they probably would if they had better defensemen behind him). If Fowler can keep up his play and ultimately get to 30+ points, he will likely get some pretty heavy Calder consideration.


Last Place!


Los Angeles Kings

Last Week: (0-3)

While the Ducks' young defenseman excels, the Kings' 2 young defenseman basically cost them Monday's game against the Ducks. Norris Trophy contender Drew Doughty took a penalty in the 2nd period and then took an incredibly lazy penalty about 5 seconds after he got out of the box. The resulting power play gave Anaheim the first goal of the game thanks to, you guessed it, Cam Fowler. He had a brutal giveaway earlier in the game that almost led to a goal. Doughty has been lackadaisical far too often, relying on his escapability instead of not getting into trouble in the first place. He's still been his usual fantastic self defensively but the offense isn't there and the drive isn't either.

Jack Johnson, meanwhile... well, just watch (starts about 1:25):

If someone could explan what he's trying to do they're a better man than me. That was an unconscionable giveaway at the worst possible time, and I can't say it's the first time that's happened this season. Johnson has the opposite problem from Drew Doughty; while Doughty doesn't look like he's trying, Johnson often looks like he's trying too much. He's trying to do everything on offense and usually ends up giving up a 2-on-1 for his efforts.

Johnson and Doughty need to switch emotional states: Doughty needs to take over games, since he has the skill to do so, while Johnson needs to relax and let the offensive play come to him. Both will get over it and both are still decent defensemen right now, but the Kings don't need decent; they need great to get themselves out of this slump.

This Week:

Tonight: Anaheim Ducks vs. Florida Panthers, 7 PM

Thursday: Los Angeles Kings vs. Florida Panthers, 7:30 PM

Friday: Anaheim Ducks vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7 PM

Saturday: Los Angeles Kings vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 PM

Sunday: Anaheim Ducks vs. Phoenix Coyotes, 5 PM

Tuesday: Anaheim Ducks @ Edmonton Oilers, 6:30 PM