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.