Remember those trade rumors that involved Dustin Brown earlier this season? He certainly does.
It’s not too often that you hear a captain’s name in trade rumors, but that’s where the Los Angeles Kings were earlier this season. At times, they looked dead in the water and performed nowhere near the level that they were expected to, after making the moves last summer that many assumed would put them over the top.
They crept into the playoffs as the no. 8 seed in the Western Conference, setting up a date with the Presidents Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks. LA cruised through that series before sweeping the second best team out West, the St. Louis Blues.
Through two games against the Phoenix Coyotes, the no. 3 seed, the Kings continue to display the fact that they are a very serious threat to win their first Stanley Cup in team history. And right in the middle of it all is Dustin Brown.
Brown isn’t one of the more widely publicized captains in the NHL, as he doesn’t put up points at a “per game” clip and he usually lets his physical play do the talking. Since the postseason has started, though, Brown has been the key piece for the Kings.
To this point, Brown has posted 14 points in 11 playoff games for Los Angeles. His four goals against Vancouver were all big, in what was a low scoring series, overall. His six points against the Blues in the second round included two goals in Game 4, which saw the elimination of the Blues.
Where Brown has really done the damage is with his physical play. Not that that’s anything new for Brown, as his 293 hits during the regular season were the second most in the league. Add that on top of the fact that he served just 53 penalty minutes all year, and you wonder why he was ever involved in trade rumors.
In just 11 games during these Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brown has 54 hits. He registered less than four hits in just one game, while going for at least six in four. That combination of the physical play, and his offensive play during the postseason, have helped him to emerge as the best player remaining in the playoffs.
Even when he’s not putting up the points, Brown is making an impact. In Game 2 against Phoenix, Brown managed to get inside the collective heads of the Coyotes, drawing some big penalties. He took a slash from Daymond Langkow, a big hack from Mike Smith to the back of the legs, and a vicious boarding hit from Martin Hanzal.
A player like Brown tends to get under the skin of the opponent, and he’s managed to do it in every round, with it becoming especially evident in Game 2. He might not be the biggest name on his own team, but he’s been the biggest performer thus far, and it’s come in every aspect of the game. If the Kings are able to continue on this roll, there’s no doubt he should be an easy Conn Smythe candidate by the time it’s all said and done.