There were a few altercations during a stretch of mid-third period play between the Kings and Sharks at Staples Center on Saturday, and because the teams meet at the SAP Center to conclude the home-and-home set on Tuesday, it was worth getting an ice level sense of what exactly happened.
When I spoke with Dustin Brown on Monday, the winger had largely moved past the incident.
“It’s just hockey, really. It’s a physical game,” he said. “Sometimes you get hit, sometimes you’re hitting guys, so it’s not that big of a deal.”
And though the crowd was incensed by the absence of a penalty called on Thornton, the referees also let Brown’s faceoff take-down on the San Jose forward go uncalled moments before. In the end, Thornton was assessed a minor penalty for a two-handed slash to Derek Forbort’s right arm that seemed like an appropriate appraisal of a situation that was ugly for 30 seconds.
Teammates are always encouraged by younger players coming to their aid, and while Forbort was mostly jawing with Thornton, and didn’t address the hit with any sort of pugilistic retribution – keep in mind that last season he engaged Arizona’s Kyle Chipchura after a knee-on-knee hit on Marian Gaborik in front of Los Angeles’ bench – that sort of support between teammates goes a long way within the dressing room.
“It’s always what you want,” Brown said. “Like I said, it’s part of hockey and he’s always been willing to step up. We have a lot of guys that are willing to do that. I think that’s always a good thing for our team to have.”
Of course, had Thornton caught any part of Brown’s head – it didn’t appear as though he did – then stiffer penalties would have been assessed, and the Department of Player Safety would have played a role in administering justice.
“I just wasn’t expecting the hit,” Brown said. “He was [coming] from the backside, so it is what it is. I’m all right with it.”
Dustin Brown, on whether the intensity will carry over into Tuesday’s game:
I mean playing back-to-back, I don’t think it really carries over but playing a team back-to-back like this has a little bit more of a playoff atmosphere, just because it’s not too often throughout the year you play a team in consecutive games like this. The rivalry, I don’t think it needs anything more then what it already is.
Brown, on whether the last game vs San Jose was an emotional game:
Oh yeah, I mean, they’ve played well and put themselves in a really good position from a standings standpoint and we have to battle for points right now, so the games are huge either way.
Brown, on how his line needs to play to be successful:
I think the main thing is, for us to be successful, we all have to be willing to do the little things right and last game was much better for us as a line. I know a lot of people are talking about Kopi and his production or whatever but, I’ve said this last week and I’ll say it again today, he’s getting really good looks they’re just not finding the back of the net for him right now. For me, I’m just trying to get to the net and open up space for him to do his thing.
Brown, on whether his chemistry with Kopitar is quick to come back for him:
Yeah I mean it doesn’t take long. We read really well off each other, partly because we PK’ed together probably for ten years, me and him have been partners from pretty much when he came in to now. 5-on-5 is a little different obviously, you know, priorities are a little different at 5-on-5 play but reading off of each other I think we do really well, we know where each other are on the ice, how each other play.