VIDEO INTERVIEWS with Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown and head coach Darryl Sutter are also featured in this story.
EL SEGUNDO, CA — Ever since he returned to training camp ice last week, Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown has been a fixture on the ice well after most of his teammates have retreated to their dressing room after practice.
Indeed, after missing 13 days of training camp and four pre-season games, Brown is still playing catch-up as being ready for the start of the 2013-14 National Hockey League regular season.
The Kings open the season on Thursday at Minnesota, and they also play at Winnipeg on Friday.
“Early on, it’s just about the details of the game,” said Brown. “As individuals, [it’s about] doing the right things—stops and starts, that sort of thing. That’s kind of what the pre-season is for. It’s different when you’re playing for points—all those little details in [one’s] individual game. If you’re doing those things, individually, man-to-man, it makes for a better team game.”
“That’s what the last week of practice is, and I wanted to get a pre-season game in, just to give my body that shock, the physical wear and tear that the season, or a game, will bring, just to wake my body up a bit,” added Brown. “The last two or three days of practice—[I’ve been] pushing it, getting myself ready. I feel better every day, and today has been my best day, by far. I started feeling more comfortable with the speed of the game.”
Catching up is not a process that is easily rushed. Not in the NHL, anyway.
“It’s one of those things,” Brown stressed. “You’ve got to practice. The more you practice, the better you get, and the more comfortable you get. My conditioning—I’m not that worried about it. I actually felt pretty good in the [pre-season] game [against the New York Rangers in Las Vegas on September 27]. It’s more the skill work, the wall work, the timing of plays. That’s what repetition in practice really helps with.”
Brown has been skating on left wing with center Jarret Stoll and right wing Trevor Lewis, and is expected to play on that line on Thursday at Minnesota. But don’t be surprised if Brown quickly moves up to his familiar spot on the top line with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams during the game, bumping left wing Dwight King back to his familiar spot with Stoll and Lewis.
Only head coach Darryl Sutter knows when all that will happen.
“That’s for Darryl to decide,” said Brown. “At the end of the day, it’s where people fit in. It really doesn’t make a difference. It’s just [about] giving the team the best chance to win. If that’s me playing with Stoll and Lewis, that’s fine. It’s not like we haven’t done that before.”
“Everyone probably looks at the lineup and yes, it’s a little different,” added Brown. “But everyone who’s followed this team over the last four years knows that lines change, and at this level, you should be able to adapt to whomever you’re playing with.”
After practice, it was apparent that Brown has not had any trouble building chemistry with Stoll and Lewis. Indeed, when yours truly asked Brown what was it that made his October 1 practice his “…best day, by far,” Stoll chimed in.
“A couple of good passes,” he said, poking fun at Brown.
“A couple of good line mates out there,” said Brown, who went right along with the joke. “The white line was hot!”
Brown, Stoll and Lewis wore white practice jerseys.
To the surprise of some, Brown showed no signs of fatigue, even with the birth of his daughter, Mackenzie, on September 12.
Brown can thank his wife, Nicole, for that.
“I’ve been getting plenty of sleep,” said Brown. “Knock on wood, she’s been sleeping great. My wife is doing most of the feeding, diaper changing, and that sort of thing.”
But don’t think for a second that Brown gets off scot-free.
“I get the other three kids during the day. It evens out, I guess.”
Post-Practice Video Interviews via FrozenRoyaltyNHL on YouTube
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