Kings vs. Devils: Which Team Has the Better Captain?
For the first time in NHL history, two American-born captains will lead their teams in the finals.
Both have done an outstanding job up to this point, but in the ultimate showdown in the finals, who has the edge?
Regardless, it's a proud moment for American Hockey, and both are worthy of the praise they have received. But let's break down the match up a little bit and see which Captain America could give his team a decisive edge.
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The 27-year-old Zach Parise might only stand 5-foot-11, but don't let that fool you. He is a bulldog.
Parise plays the kind of game you have to play as a guy who is considered undersized. He is a relentless forechecker, a great skater, and has a never-quit attitude.
It's perfect captain material.
It's also important to note what high-end talent Parise has. He has eclipsed 30 goals, and 60 points, in every season he has competed in except his rookie season. The guy can play a relentless offensive game and is a living nightmare for defenders.
Parise leaves some room for improvement in the defensive end, but has improved that aspect of his game considerably over the years, even though his numbers have slid compared to earlier in his career.
He currently has 14 points in 18 playoff games, is a minus-five, and has one game-winning goal, and two power-play goals.
Parise has been recognized on an international level as a leader. He was alternate captain of the U.S. Mens Olympic Hockey Team which won the Silver Medal in Vancouver.
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Dustin Brown has been a bit of a polarizing figure in these playoffs. You're either a huge fan, or you absolutely hate him.
And let's be frank, it's easy to hate Dustin Brown's game.
He is a physically punishing player, an intimidating player, an aggravating player, and a skilled goal-scorer. He will muck it up after the whistle, get in a goalies head, and unfortunately sell a call or two. He's the kind of player that you would love to have on your team, but you hate him because he is not.
Brown has woken up his team on several occasions throughout the regular season and these playoffs with timely goals and huge hits.
Off the ice, Brown is a silent and soft spoken leader. However, he has kept the Kings incredibly focused, even though they have had long lay-offs between all of their playoff series.
Brown plays a solid two-way game and is as defensively responsible as he is offensively effective. He is often used by Darryl Sutter to kill penalties, as well as play on the power play.
Brown's leadership qualities got him recognition at the international level as well. Like Parise, he was an alternate captain of the 2010 U.S. Mens Olympic Hockey Team which won the Silver Medal in Vancouver.
Brown currently has 16 points in 14 playoff games, is a plus-13, and has two shorthanded goals, and three game-winning goals. Brown is also third in the postseason in hits with 67.
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Honestly, you can't really go wrong with either guy.
Both have played a tremendous playoffs, and have done enough for their teams to earn a shot at the Stanley Cup.
They play the game in different ways, but they have been equally effective in motivating the team, and maintaining a high quality of play.
The New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings have two leaders rightfully fit to hoist the cup above their head after four more victories.
But in life, there must be a loser, and there must be a winner.
So my winner is.....
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No offense to Zach Parise, but Dustin Brown just has that little edge to his game that is a determining factor.
Parise can punish you in the goal column, but so can Brown. And when they aren't scoring, Dustin Brown takes his game to another level.
It's the hitting and the agitation that has gotten every team off their game from the drop of the puck in the Vancouver series to now. He gets in teams' heads and just goes about his business as if that is status quo.
Statistically, Dustin Brown has outscored Parise, out-hit Parise, has a better plus-minus, has more game-winning goals, and has certainly drawn more penalties than anyone else in the playoffs.
Parise is a massive offensive threat every time he steps on the ice. However, Dustin Brown is equally as big a threat and has the game to get his team pumped up on the bench.