When the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils begin the Stanley Cup Finals Wednesday night, much of the attention will be directed toward the men protecting the net for each team, and for good reason. One of them is considered one of, if not the, best goaltenders of all time, and the other is having a postseason that could see him win the Conn Smythe Trophy. Of course, I'm talking about Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick, respectively.
While I certainly won't argue that the attention they have received and will receive is well-earned, it could be someone else who ends up stealing the spotlight.
Kings captain Dustin Brown could end up being the X-factor for the Kings in this series. While it's obvious that the captain of a team will play a huge role, it is not just through his leadership. Brown played in all 82 games this season. In those games he registered 54 points on 22 goals and 32 assists. However this postseason, he has seen his production increase drastically. In 14 games this postseason, Brown has tallied 16 points on seven goals and nine assists.
Chalk it up to nerves of steel or just plain good luck, but Brown is playing his best hockey of the year when it matters the most. He's tallied a point in all but four games this postseason. Two of those games were the Kings' only losses this postseason. Brown's new found production has become vital to the Kings' offensive success and if they want to have a chance at beating the Devils, and Brodeur specifically, Brown will need to continue to produce at a high level.
The Kings' biggest struggles this year were with scoring goals consistently. That has not been a problem so far this postseason, due in large part to Brown. In order to win, they will not only need Jonathan Quick to continue to play at the high level that he has been, but they will also need Brown to continue to step up. The Kings face a tall order in trying to beat Brodeur on a regular basis while also having to stop players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias.
If Brown continues to score and create chances the way he has been so far this postseason, the Kings will have a great opportunity to be hoisting the Cup when all is said and done.