AUDIO: Includes audio interviews with Dustin Brown and Darryl Sutter.
LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — One day after his first game back in the lineup after missing two games with an undisclosed lower body injury (unrelated to the knee injury—posterior cruciate ligament—he suffered during last season’s playoffs), Los Angeles Kings winger and captain Dustin Brown spent some time studying video of his play during a 2-1 shootout win over the Washington Capitals.
More than one observer has noted that Brown had more jump in his step, more speed, and more aggressiveness against the Capitals on March 20 than has been seen from him all season long.
“I felt fine,” Brown said about returning to the lineup. “Getting up to speed after missing a week, or two games, just getting back up to game speed, I think I adjusted pretty well.”
Brown indicated that he is feeling better on the ice.
“I didn’t feel [faster], but I’ve felt better since the [Olympic] break, all around—physically, mentally,” he said. “I feel more like myself. Obviously, with the injury that I had, just getting back into the lineup felt good.”
When asked what he thought about Brown’s performance against the Capitals, head coach Darryl Sutter, as usual, was reticent to comment about a specific player.
“He hadn’t played in a week, and we watched how much we used him,” he said. “We moved him around, we needed four lines last night, and he was on one of’em.”
“It was a grind-it-out game,” he added. “There was nobody below or above anybody. We just tried to play a solid game.”
For the record, no one asked Sutter to compare Brown to any other player.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Brown discussed what he saw when he watched video of his play.
“I watched film today, and you feel a lot slower than you probably are on the ice, just getting back into it,” he noted. “But overall, it was good.”
“I just held onto the puck a lot more,” he added. “I’ve said this since the Olympic break. I feel more like myself and [I’m] holding onto pucks, making plays, coming out of the corners with pucks. I had a couple opportunities coming from behind the net making a play to, I think it was Slava [Voynov], in the third. Just holding onto a puck and waiting for a play to happen, as opposed to trying to force it to the net, or force a play early. Just kind of being a little more patient and using my size, my body to make a better play.”
“I think it’s night and day for me, watching film now as opposed to earlier in the year, for whatever reason, [comparing his play now to earlier in the season]. If I had an answer we wouldn’t be talking about it.”
But when pressed, Brown knew the answer.
“Holding onto the puck is a key for me, in my game,” he explained. “When I’m off my game, or when I’m not playing well, I get rid of the puck too quickly.”
“It’s coming out of the corners, using my body to protect the puck, making it hard on the defensemen to get the puck from me,” he elaborated. “Last night, I did that. As a result, other plays open up, better plays, rather than just chucking it to the net.”
Sutter noted that improved play by Brown, along with center Mike Richards, has to come now, in crunch time.
“Mike has had a year like Brown,” said Sutter. “Hopefully, they’re getting their games together at the right time.”
“[Brown] has to [pick up his game],” added Sutter. “Those guys are experienced, veteran players on our team, and they have to get their games in order if we’re going to be a playoff team.”
Raw Audio Interviews
(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Dustin Brown (following game vs. Washington, March 20, 2014; 2:17)
Dustin Brown (March 21, 2014; 4:20)
Darryl Sutter (March 21, 2014; 3:49)
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