The numbers adding up alongside Dustin Brown’s name do not paint a picture of a memorable first half. With seven goals and 13 points through his first 41 games, he’s on pace for his lowest totals since his first two NHL seasons. Since recording an assist on an Anze Kopitar power play goal 42 seconds into a 7-4 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on October 24, Brown has appeared in 65 minutes and 39 seconds of power play time without having recorded a point.
“I mean, I could be a hell of a lot better,” he said.
“If I can pick my game up and elevate my game – I’m sure there’s other guys who feel the same way – our team is going to get better. For me, it’s just about getting my game back, and a lot of it’s just details for me. So I’ve just got to focus on those from game to game and be ready to go.”
After noting Brown’s production was “off” following the game at Dallas on December 31, Darryl Sutter spoke again on his puzzling lack of production at Toyota Sports Center this morning.
“He’s struggled in that whole part. Brownie’s game has been a struggle from day one. Right from last spring,” Sutter said. “It’s like whenever Brownie has a good game, everybody always [says], ‘Oh, jeez, that’s Brown,’ and they look at the [scoresheet], and it says that he got eight hits, or scored two goals, and they’ll go ‘hopefully that’ll get him going.’”
One thing that could get Brown going could be the natural progression up to the mean of his shooting percentages. His 6.4 shooting percentage this season is well off his career mark of 10.2 and just over half of his 12.7 percentage from a season ago, when he scored 18 goals in 46 games.
Asked if there were any noticeable changes in Brown’s game, Sutter expanded on the subject.
“He’s not playing as assertive of a game along the wall, and going to the net, for sure. For sure.”
He offered these critiques in respectful recognition of the level of competition inherent in Brown’s game.
“I mean, I don’t like being critical of Brownie because Brownie gives you what he’s got.”
Dustin Brown, on the losing streak:
No, it’s never pleasant when you lose. We need to lean not only on our leadership but our continuity in the room. We’ve been through much harder things than a five-game losing streak…and it’s a matter of relying on that experience and leaning on each other. And from an X’s and O’s standpoint, or a hockey standpoint, a big part of it is we have to start eliminating our penalties. We’re just taking too many penalties right now. [Reporter: Are the penalties guys not moving their legs? Are they thinking lapses? What do you see?] I think it’s a bit of everything really when it comes to penalties. I mean, there are certain penalties in a game that you’re going to take. But when we’re taking offensive zone penalties – hooking penalties in the offensive zone, stuff like that – those are the types of penalties that end up biting us. I think that’s one area that except for the Chicago game, every game the difference was a power play goal against. I mean in St. Louis, we got beat by five goals, but they get an early power play goal and it ends up being the difference.
Brown, on the details of executing the power play:
I don’t really know. Our power play has been kind of up and down all year. I think it was the same last year. It’s trying to be consistent with it and sticking with it. The power plays, everyone talks about percentages. I don’t think it’s about percentages because I think it’s about scoring. Using your power play for momentum and scoring goals at key times. I mean percentages are a little deceiving, because you have teams that have really good power plays. Maybe they score two goals in the third period in a 4-0 game. Those goals don’t really mean much. It’s about scoring the big goals. A good example is last night, we had a 5-on-3 in the last little bit of the second and we have to find a way to score a goal. I think Carts had pretty much an empty net and Elliott made a pretty good save on it, but we have to find a way to score on that.
Brown, on ‘bearing down’ on scoring chances:
I think it’s a fine line because you talk about bearing down, and then there’s the other, I’ve been known to do it in my career, grip the stick too tight when you’re pressing for goals. But we need to find a way to find that balance of making sure we’re finishing off our chances, but not gripping the stick too tight that we’re not making the right plays, if that makes sense.