The Los Angeles Kings trail 0-3 in a playoff series for the first time in 14 years, which probably explains why captain Dustin Brown — who debuted for L.A. in 2003 — is calling this his toughest time as a King.
“This is probably the most dire situation we’ve been in,” Brown said, per Mayors’ Manor. “It’s not only a test, but a learning experience.”
L.A. heads into Staples tonight on the verge of elimination to San Jose, a similar circumstance to the opening round of the 2000 playoffs, in which the Kings were down three games to none to the Red Wings — before eventually getting swept in Game 4.
To avoid a similar fate, the Kings are hoping the captain can provide a spark.
Brown will be moved to the club’s top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, head coach Darryl Sutter confirmed, and the hope is that Brown can provide a more physical element when matched up against San Jose’s red-hot first unit of Joe Thornton, Brent Burns and Tomas Hertl, which has combined to score nine points in the first three games.
“We’ve had trouble with the size of Burns and Thornton, quite honestly,” Sutter said, per CSN Bay Area.
Tonight will also provide Brown the opportunity to make amends for what’s been a forgettable season.
The 29-year-old scored just 27 points this season — his lowest total since notching five in 31 games as a rookie — and saw his ice time plummet to 16:50 per night. Through the first three playoff games, Brown hasn’t been much better. He’s scoreless against the Sharks thus far and his most notable scoresheet contribution came during a 7-2 loss in Game 2, when he racked up 12 penalty minutes.