Los Angeles Kings: Without Dustin Brown Will the Kings Fall to 6th in the West?

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IApril 25, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: (L-R) Goaltender Jonathan Bernier #45, Dwight King #74, Robyn Regehr #44, Jordan Nolan #71 and Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate their 3-0 victory against the Minnesota Wild after their NHL game at Staples Center on April 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown delivered a nasty elbow to Jason Pommiville’s head Tuesday in Minnesota. The Wild went on to beat the Kings 2-1, and Pommiville did not return to the game.

The NHL announced Wednesday that Brown, who did not receive a penalty on the play, would be suspended for two games—the first of which took place Wednesday night in Detroit against the Red Wings. 

The Kings put forth a decent effort in what was their second of back-to-back road games. However, they failed to convert on the power play (0-3) and were outshot 36-24. Ultimately, they came up empty without their captain, falling 3-1 to a desperate Detroit team that moved into eighth in the West with the win. 

The Kings and the San Jose Sharks were tied with 57 points heading into the night, but the Kings sat in fourth spot because of their 24 regulation and overtime wins. The Sharks, who have just 17 ROW, were also in action Wednesday and lost 2-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes

That sets up a crucial final game between the two clubs Saturday, which should determine who gets home-ice advantage in the postseason. 

Or will it? 

The St. Louis Blues are just one point behind the Kings and Sharks and still have two games to play. Both games are at home, against the dreadful Calgary Flames and the President’s trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues have 22 ROW thus far. 

It’s possible the Kings and Sharks could be battling for fifth place and a trip to St. Louis, rather than home ice advantage.

With that in mind, the Kings will have to beat the Sharks without Brown, who has played a big role in their three meetings this season. 

In a 4-3 loss in mid-March, Brown had two goals and five shots. Two days later the Kings got the best of the Sharks in a rematch, beating them 5-2. Brown registered an assist and was a physical force throughout the game, finishing with a game-high seven hits. 

In their third meeting just over a week ago, Brown scored the tying goal which secured a point for the Kings, who went on to lose in a shootout. Once again Brown recorded a game-high in hits with eight and was effective at both ends of the rink. 

What he lacks in skill Brown makes up for with his physicality, determination and smart play at both ends of the rink. His leadership abilities were on full display during the Kings’ Stanley Cup run and if it wasn't for the remarkable play of Jonathan Quick, Brown could easily have been the Conn Smythe winner. 

The Kings and Sharks should offer up one of the best games of the shortened 2013 season on Saturday. It's a final showdown between division rivals which should stir memories of two games that took place just over a year ago. 

Los Angeles and San Jose played back-to-back games to end the 2011-12 season. The Sharks won both, the first in a shootout and the second in overtime, to steal the seventh seed from the Kings. 

Of course, that didn't matter much in the playoffs.