|Dustin Brown at practice (photo: D. Sheehan)|
We’ve all heard there’s no ‘I’ in team. Or is there?
Earlier today, Kings coach Darryl Sutter called out two of his star players – Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown – actually saying they ‘talk too much about the team’ and ‘should talk more about themselves, what they bring to the table.’
Perhaps his public words were something he privately shared with each player beforehand because when speaking to Brown right before that, he was taking as much about taking personal responsibility as he was the entire team.
“I have to score more goals,” stated Brown. “We have guys in here who are used to scoring more goals and they need to step up and score some goals. That’s probably our biggest problem right now. I think the last time I scored a goal was against Calgary at home.”
Yes, that game with the Flames was back on January 19th. So, with an 11-game drought since then, it was time for a chance. For tomorrow night’s game in Phoenix, Sutter is moving Brown from the top-line left wing position back to his more natural right side – but, dropping him down a line to play with Mike Richards. Does he think that will help?
“I’m comfortable on both wings,” Brown answered. “It’s probably harder making plays coming into the offensive zone on the strong side. But, it’s a lot easier coming out of your d-zone on the right side. And vise-versa for the left.”
Besides the lack of production, Sutter’s comments today revealed he doesn’t agree with that assessment – “(Brown) thinks he’s a better left winger. But, I would say that he has done the majority of his teamwork, or good work, on the right side. Even though he’ll score on that side of the ice, he’s still playing the other side in all other situations,” said the Kings coach.
So, with his return to the right side, what does Brown think of his new left winger, rookie Dwight King?
“Kinger played with me and Kopitar last year for a stretch of games. I didn’t know (Jordan) Nolan nearly as well. But, both of them are really good. If you draw a line across the offensive zone dots, they’re really good low. Everything below those two dots, they’re pretty effective players.”
Still, rookies playing on the top two lines, star players not scoring goals, the team falling out of a playoff spot – these are some tough times around the Kings locker room right now.
“I think there’s pressure here,” said Brown. “Given the situation, I hope people are feeling pressure in here. If they’re not, then we’re done, I think.”
What if the team doesn’t make a roster move, does this group have enough juice to make the playoffs?
“Yes. We’re comfortable with the team, it’s just a matter of executing,” Brown said without hesitation. “We haven’t had great results the last 10 games or so. But, we’re still right there. We have 24 games to go…we’ve been in this situation twice in the last two years – having to battle for a playoff spot. Nothing’s ever been easy for this team. Regardless of if Dean (Lombardi) makes a move or not, I think guys in here are capable of putting together wins and making the playoffs.”
Some more goals from Brown sure would make things a little easier though.
Based on what he’s shown in the past, expect him to step up tomorrow night and have one of his best games of the season.
For more from Sutter, see the article linked below.