Brown on struggles: “There’s definitely a lot less room out there”

Season after season, Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown is among the NHL’s leaders in the “hits” category. While much of the focus on his 2012 Stanley Cup finals’ struggles revolve around his lack of scoring punch, Brown told Curtis Zupke that the New Jersey Devils are turning the physical tide on him as well.

“For me, personally, it’s probably been a more physical series than the previous [ones],” Brown said. “I probably was on the receiving end of more hits in this series than any other. I think they’ve got some big strong defensemen that are good positionally and are in the right areas to make hits. Physicality is not just about hits. It’s rubbing you in the corners. They have a three-guys-in-the-corner approach. There’s definitely a lot less room out there.”

To some extent, it’s a little surprising to read that Brown is citing “less room” against the more-wide-open-then-ever Devils after facing some very stingy defensive teams in the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes.

If nothing else, Brown’s talk about wear-and-tear actually strengthens Darryl Sutter’s claims that he sat Brown late in Game 5 to give him a breather. That’s not to say Sutter is telling the full truth – surely Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are probably a little tired, too – but that kick in the pants might just get Brown going a bit.

Considering Brown’s 54-point regular season, it’s logical to say that he was bound to slow down after scoring 14 points in his first 16 postseason games in 2012. Still, Los Angeles needs more than the single assist and eight shots he’s produced in five contests versus the Devils – whether it’s hits, points, shots or mere agitation.

Chances are the Devils won’t make it any easier on him, though.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.

Leafs claim Corrado from Canucks, waive Panik

Frank Corrado
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed one of the more intriguing players placed on waivers — former Vancouver defenseman Frank Corrado.

Corrado, 22, was waived by the Canucks on Monday. The former OHL standout had appeared in 28 career games for Vancouver — including 10 last year — but was squeezed out of an NHL spot following the emergence of Ben Hutton, who surprised many onlookers by making the 23-man roster.

Canucks GM Jim Benning will receive criticism for losing an asset like Corrado for nothing. Several Vancouver pundits warned of exposing a young, promising d-man to waivers and those warnings ultimately proved accurate.

With Toronto, Corrado could push for playing time as the club indicated on Monday veteran d-man Sephane Robidas wouldn’t be with the team to start the year. That would leave the the Leafs with seven healthy blueliners: Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner, Roman Polak, Morgan Rielly, Matt Hunwick, Martin Marincin and Scott Harrington, who can go to the minors without having to clear waivers.

Petter Granberg, another defenseman, is currently on IR.

In a corresponding move to the Corrado claim, the Leafs put forward Richard Panik on waivers. Panik, who Toronto plucked off waivers from Tampa Bay last year, appeared in 76 games for the Leafs, scoring 11 goals and 17 points.