Dustin Brown’s making a name for himself this postseason, and in a variety of ways.
One is by scoring — Brown leads the Kings with nine points in eight games.
Another is by killing penalties — Brown leads all postseason skaters with four shorthanded points.
But perhaps the most noticeable thing is how, as Kings captain, Brown seemingly turns into a heat-seeking missile upon seeing someone else wear the “C”.
In Los Angeles’ opening-round defeat of Vancouver, No. 23 shook up the Canucks by hammering their captain, Henrik Sedin:
The Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma described the collision as such:
It was a hit that could have registered on the Richter Scale because it was looking like the biggest impact the Los Angeles Kings would make Sunday.
When Dustin Brown rocked Henrik Sedin with a heavy forearm check to the shoulder in the second period, a blow that also caught his chin, it sent the Vancouver Canucks captain crushing to the ice and striking his head. He struggled to regain his footing and had to be helped to the bench before briefly leaving Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinal.
It left an impression and an ensuing scrap between Anze Kopitar and Alex Burrows was about as heated as it got because there was simply too much at stake.
Now, fast forward to Thursday’s Game 3 win over St. Louis, when Brown sent St. Louis captain David Backes up and over the boards and into the Blues bench:
Nothing summed up the Kings’ swagger more than the hit captain Dustin Brown put on St. Louis winger David Backes that sent him into his own bench in the second period.
Backes is supposed to be the Blues’ big, physical, imposing threat. He’s supposed to embody the aggressive nature of the Blues. The Kings were supposed to give him that always-know-where-he’s-at-on-the-ice attention.
Brown made a clean hit on Backes, but it was more than just a hit. This was a message. The Kings aren’t just winning. They’re pummeling the Blues, and the visitors have shockingly given up.
(Yeah, we know Backes is a center, not a winger.)
In an earlier episode of PHT Extra, I noted the Kings were an awful lot like the 2004 Calgary Flames — with Brown filling the Jarome Iginla role.
Think about it:
— Both are captains
— Both play the robust, power-forward game
— Iginla was 26 when he led the Flames to the Cup finals
— Brown is 27
— Iginla had eight points in his first eight playoff games that year
— Brown has nine in eight
— Iginla led the playoffs with two shorthanded goals
— Brown is tied for the playoff lead with two shorthanded goals
Throw in the Jonathan Quick-as-Miikka Kiprusoff angle and yeah, it’s a pretty compelling comparison.