DENVER -- The NHL's Olympic break may be over but its effects are lingering for the players who made the long trip home from Sochi last weekend.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who joined the team Monday in Denver after helping Canada win a gold medal Sunday, said he was still feeling fatigued three days later.
"It’s not easy to have whatever, an 11-hour time change, have to fly 11 hours. It’s tough to adjust," he said. "I’ve been falling asleep early at night. And waking up really early in the morning."
The NHL schedule makers certainly didn't do the Kings and Doughty any favors. Starting with Wednesday night's game in Denver, the team will play three times in 65 hours -- with the first two games at high altitude.
"That kills you even more," Doughty said after Wednesday's morning skate. "But whatever. There’s nothing you can do about it. We’ve just got to play and play our best."
Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and goalie Jonathan Quick, who were on the same flight from Russia, all skated with the team Tuesday and again Wednesday morning. But judging from backup goalie Martin Jones' early departure from practice Wednesday, it's likely he will start against the Colorado Avalanche, giving Quick an extra night off.
There will be no such luxury for Doughty.
"There’s no way around it," Coach Darryl Sutter said. "Drew Doughty is a special player. If we don’t play Drew Doughty then we’ve got problems.
"It's not where they're coming from. It's what we've got to do."
And rest doesn't figure into that since the Kings, four points ahead of Phoenix and Dallas in the race for the Western Conference's final playoff berth, will close the season with 23 games in 46 days.
"This is the time we play best every year," Doughty said. "We seem to put ourselves in a hole with 20 games left and then all of a sudden we’re fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
"We’re desperate right now to be getting points and to be winning games. We need to get on a streak."
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