Mired in slump, Kings captain Brown feeling the heat

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Prior to Thursday’s loss to Columbus, L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter offered a pretty blunt assessment of Dustin Brown‘s performance this season.

“He hasn’t played very well lately,” Sutter said, per the L.A. Times. “He gets the opportunity to play with a special player [Anze Kopitar] and he’s got to perform. We’re getting into regular-season performances, based not just this year but over the last couple of seasons.

“[He] needs to be a better player.”

Brown’s numbers pretty much tell the whole story.

He, along with Philly’s Jakub Voracek, are the only players in the league with more than 40 shots on net… and zero goals to show for it.

Brown currently sits at 44, following last night’s four-shot effort against the Blue Jackets (Voracek has 50). Dating back to last year, Brown’s gone 17 straight games without finding the back of the net.

That’s not good enough.

It’s really not good enough given the Kings are desperate for one of Kopitar’s wingers to get going.

Sutter has tried a number of options alongside the team’s No. 1 center — Brown, Marian Gaborik, Tanner Pearson — but nothing’s clicked. Sutter responded by cutting Brown’s ice time in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over St. Louis, when he played a season-low 14:33.

If there is a glimmer of hope, it’s that Brown did manage to score his fourth point of the season on Thursday night, assisting on Alec Martinez‘s power play goal in the first period.

But it’s hard to see that as anything other than a small victory.

The fact remains that Brown, who just turned 31, is carrying a hefty $5.8 million cap hit through 2022. If he can’t pick up the slack, his contract could become a real albatross — if it isn’t already.