|Dustin Brown, LA Kings (photo: M. Zampelli)|
Over the last few years, there are certain things you can count on when watching an LA Kings game. Such as – Anze Kopitar will pick up a point, Jarret Stoll will win a bunch of faceoffs, Matt Greene will block some shots…and Dustin Brown will deliver a few crushing hits to the opposition.
Yet, if the latter seems to be with less frequency this season, well – it has been.
Last year Brown finished with 300 hits, up from 287 the year prior. Through 26 games played this season, his 72 hits have him on pace for a total of 227, down 24%.
When asked about the decline, Brown doesn’t see it as him responding to the league-wide crack down…
“Definitely (the league) is looking at it more closely. But, I don’t think it’s changing my game,” said the Kings captain. “I think what’s happening is our system is starting to get more detailed. There are opportunities to get hits. But, you don’t want to run out of your way to get hits. We’re starting to learn our system a little bit better. On the forecheck, if I’m F1, I can get my hits. If I’m F2 or F3, I have to make some reads. Again, hitting, I try to be as physical as possible. I think it provides a spark for this team. However, I think there are definitely instances where maybe I pull back, not from a standpoint of the league rules or whatever. But, just from trying to stay in a better position on the defensive side of the puck and really focusing on doing all of the things right – as opposed to making the big hit and maybe taking myself out of the play.”
As a point of reference, last Thursday he had six hits against Florida (his season best) and then five hits on Saturday vs. Montreal. He played on the top line in both games.
“I had the Bauer helmet. Now, I switched to the Reebok I had a few years ago because it saves my head better and I’m in front of the net a lot. So, getting hit from behind, the Bauer helmet would just pop off my head, sideways a lot.”
For tonight’s game in Anaheim, Brown will be back on the left wing. However, he’ll be on the second line (with Stoll and Trent Hunter).
Even though it’s a division rival, Brown had a pair of hits in each of the two games against the Ducks last month. The Kings won both games.
The only two he’s worried about tonight though are the two points at stake.
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