After a postseason of unimpressive numbers some feel fit to question Dustin Brown.
NHL.com’s 30 in 30 summed up the snowballing concerns.
Brown was 9th on the Kings in production with 27 points, his lowest point total, for a full season, in his career. Brown also tied Steve Ott, ranking 9th in the NHL, with 246 hits.
Brown plays on the first line alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. During the regular season, before Gaborik was traded to the Kings,
Brown and Kopitar primarily played with Justin Williams. Brown has shown in previous seasons that he can score, but he’s not a natural scorer. Brown’s a power forward; a digger. He goes into the corners, battles defensemen for the puck and gets it out to the talented scorers on his line that put the puck in the net. That’s his natural role, and now that the Kings have more talent around him they’ve capitalized on it.
In the four seasons from 2006-2010, Brown averaged 53.75 points. In the last four seasons, from 2010-2014, Brown averaged 41.75 points. A significant drop in point production.
Over the same period of time, from 2006-2010, Brown averaged a plus/minus of -13.75; from 2010-2014 Brown averaged a plus/minus of +12. Another significant swing.
Brown must be doing something right. He’s contributing fewer points but has been on the ice more often when the Kings are scoring. The numbers are counter-intuitive, but they convey a change of focus, not a change in production. Brown is playing responsibly in the defensive zone. There’s no other explanation for a drop in points and such a swing in plus/minus. As the title of an ESPN show says, Numbers Never lie.
Earlier this week RinkRoyalty had an article that discussed which hockey systems are more preferable, offensive or defensive. Clearly the Kings have adopted a system that plays to their strengths. At the current point in time, the Kings Strength is in their commanding defense.
In the 2014 playoffs the Kings switched up their tactics. They opened up their style of play to create more opportunities for themselves. By opening up, they allowed their forwards to break up ice earlier, moving into the neutral zone as soon as a Kings defensemen had the puck. It’s a riskier style of play that requires a tremendous amount of trust in your defensemen, because if the puck gets turned over you’re caught, giving up a good opportunity to the opposing team; most likely an odd man rush because forwards are not in position in the defensive zone.
Being pushed to the limit; playing three game 7′s, especially being down 3-0 in the first series against the San Jose Sharks, forced the Kings to
change tactics: be more offensively aggressive – to play with desperation. In the first three games against San Jose the Kings average 2.66 goals per game. The lost all three games. In the last four games against the Sharks the Kings averaged 4.50 goals per game. They won all four.
In 26 games in the 2014 playoffs Brown was a +7, scoring 14 points that included six goals, two of which were game winners. 14 points ranked him 7th on the Kings. That’ more than a point every-other-game, or .53%. In the regular season Brown had 27 points in 79 games, amounting to 34%.
Dustin Brown is a warrior. Brown wears the “C” as the leader of one of the most mentally tough teams in the league, and with 246 hits, no one can question his effort. Brown’s drop in scoring isn’t a problem of production, it’s a conscious decision to play the vital power-forward role, where the Kings need him. It’s a decision, as a leader, to put the team and winning before himself.