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Why Dustin Brown Is the Unsung Hero of the Los Angeles Kings' Playoff Run

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his double overtime game winner against the New York Rangers during Game Two of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Staples Center on June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images
Eric McKelvieSenior Writer IJune 11, 2014

The Los Angeles Kings are one win away from their second Stanley Cup title in three years.

Winning the Cup twice as a player is a great accomplishment. Captaining a team to two championships? That’s a feat some of the game’s all-time greatsWayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, among othershave accomplished. On Wednesday evening, Dustin Brown can add his name to that list.

No, he isn't and will never be held in the same regard as those Hall of Famers. But his contributions shouldn't go unrecognized. Dustin Brown finished tied with Anze Kopitar for the Kings' playoff scoring title in 2011-12 with 20 points in 20 games.  

In 2013-14, he hasn't been one of the team’s top producers offensively, but he’s still played a crucial role in the Kings’ Cup run.

 

Leadership

Brown is a quiet captain who inspires with his play on the ice. He isn't the ultimate two-way forward like Jonathan Toews, he isn't a terrifying figure in terms of stature and he won’t light the lamp every game. But, whatever it is that Darryl Sutter asks of him, he will do it. He plays with passion, and he never takes a shift off.

In speaking with Scott Burnside of ESPN.com, Zach Parise praised his U.S. Olympic teammate.

He fits in very well. He's a very likable guy. But he's also very quiet. He's always been a pretty quiet guy, although he's vocal when he has to be.

Brown is the glue for a team that thrives on puck possession, a strong forecheck and physical defense. Kopitar led the way offensively as the Kings did the unthinkable, coming back from down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks. Dustin Brown was the team’s emotional leader with his gritty play, hitting, forechecking and backchecking to give players like Kopitar more space and time.

No one should be surprised that Brown has been nominated for the Mark Messier Leadership Award in each of the past three years.

 

Physicality

Brown started off the season having a limited impact because of a hamstring injury. As his health improved, he slowly regained his form from previous seasons.

He’s turned it up a notch in the postseason. With 118 hits, he leads all players by a huge margin. Teammate Jarret Stoll is second with 90 hits. Brown’s physical play includes big open ice hits, small checks along the boards, battling for the puck in the corners and, of course, engaging in scrums in front of the net.

What’s most important is the fact that he’s taken just five minor penalties in 24 playoff games. While in past years he’s been accused of crossing the line with dirty hits, he’s played a fairly clean game throughout the 2013-14 playoffs.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07:  Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings and teammates celebrate his double overtime game winner against the New York Rangers during Game Two of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Staples Center on June 7, 2014 in Los Angel
Harry How/Getty Images

 

Captain Clutch

Overall, his stats may not seem that impressive, but Brown has been crucial in getting the Kings to the Final and ultimately within one win of the Stanley Cup.

Playing on the top line with two elite forwards in Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, Brown does the dirty work. He drives to the front of the net, cycles the puck down low and delivers and takes hits nearly every shift.

Brown registered two goals and two assists in the final four games versus the Sharks, after being held off the scoresheet in the first three games.

Against the Blackhawks it was a similar story. He was held without a point in the first three games but caught fire in Games 4 through 7, racking up two goals and four assists, including the game-winner in Game 4.

And, don't forget, in Game 2 versus the New York Rangers he scored the winner in double overtime.

It’s unfortunate Brown doesn't always get the credit he deserves. But he should soon be fortunate enough to lift the Stanley Cup over his head for a second time.


Stats courtesy of NHL.com.

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