Name: Dustin Brown
Position: left wing
Height/Weight: 6 feet, 210
Seasons with the Kings: 8
What’s his role? Brown is a game changer, whether it’s delivering a clutch goal at the most opportune time, or leaving an opposing player gasping for air after an open-ice hit. The team captain is like a swarm of mosquitoes on a camping trip, getting under an opponent’s skin until they finally whack him. Probably no surprise, he drew the most penalties in the league during the regular season. But that’s just part of what makes Brown so valuable to the Kings. He averaged 26 goals the last five seasons, hitting the net from a variety of spots on the ice and in an assortment of ways. If the Kings could clone him, they probably would.
What has he done lately? Teams that march this far into the Stanley Cup playoffs need their top players to perform at their best and Brown has led the way like a famous general. His seven goals and 16 points are second best in the league this postseason. From his two shorthanded goals in Game 2 of the opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks, to the thunderous hits that decompressed Vancouver forward Henrik Sedin and Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival, Brown seems to be in the middle of every game-changing moment.
Where will you find him on the ice? Brown’s laundry list of accomplishments this spring is more remarkable considering he’s playing out of position. Brown shoots the puck right-handed, making him a natural right wing. But season-ending injuries to Scott Parse and Simon Gagne, along with ineffectiveness by Dustin Penner during the regular season, forced coach Darryl Sutter to move Brown to the left side. Since Brown's main objective is to power his way to the front of the net, his shooting side becomes less of a factor the closer he gets. Throw in his chemistry with longtime teammate Anze Kopitar and Brown tends to be more of a freelancer anyway.
What does he do best? What makes Brown so frustrating to play against is his temperament. He’ll rattle the glass with a big hit then skate away as the opponent tries to engage him in a verbal battle. He doesn’t just get other players frustrated and off their games, he does it to entire teams. Never was that more apparent than when the Kings clinched their trip to the Stanley Cup finals. He laid out Rozsival with a side-on-side hit in overtime of Game 5, sending Rozsival crumbling to the ice. The Coyotes were enraged that a penalty wasn’t called and, before they could settle their emotions down, the Kings scored 12 seconds later to end the series.
A comparable athlete: Without a doubt, Brown is the Blake Griffin of the NHL, only he’s probably better at the free-throw line. Brown carries the team’s attitude on his chest and will bump with anyone. He likes contact and opponent’s like to make contact with him, often giving a little more back out of pure frustration. In the end, they both know how to tickle the twine, and like to use brute force to get there.