It’s funny – you have an idea for a story, begin compiling notes and statistics, and then, poof! Out the window with your thesis.
The evolved story stems from a conversation I had earlier today with Darryl Sutter about Dustin Brown’s play, which from the eye test has appeared to generate a passing grade over the last month. He has been strong on the puck, he consistently generates a high amount of controlled zone entries, he moves his feet, he draws penalties.
So, with no goals, two assists and a minus-seven rating over the last 11 games, is he unlucky? Does his play pass the test from the bench, as it does from upstairs?
“[Not many] opportunities and very few shots,” Darryl Sutter said.
Well, OK then. Upon a closer look…
Brown is on pace for 199 shots this season, which would be negligibly below his 195-shot pace over 79 games a season ago. Two seasons ago, Brown’s 142 shots in 46 games prorated to 253 shots over 82 games. He also used a 12.7% shooting percentage in 2012-13 to score 18 times in the lockout-shortened campaign.
Through 37 games, Brown has six goals, 12 points and a minus-nine rating. It doesn’t jive with the theory that on many nights recently he has been among the Kings’ best forwards.
“I think there are parts of my game I can improve on,” Brown said. “But I think my play with the puck, if there is one thing I could probably do better – I thought I did a good job last night getting inside the dots. As a result, we drew two penalties last game because I take it off the wall. Every player has kind of been through it. It’s not like I’m not creating chances or getting chances. It’s just a matter of fine tuning the little intricacies of the game and you just have to stay with it. It’s frustrating to see the stat line, for sure.”
“Hockey is a funny game sometimes. You go the other way when you don’t feel like you’re playing very well and you have a point a game or something like that. It’s just a matter of sticking with it.”
Sutter offered a terse explanation of what he’s looking for from Brown.
“He’s a much better player when he goes up and down his wing and goes to the net and when he’s strong on the wall,” Darryl Sutter said. “Get pucks out, get pucks in.”
The up-and-down the wing game – hasn’t that been there?
“When he does that he often has success, and when he doesn’t, he doesn’t, and he hasn’t for quite a while now.”
Dustin Brown, on carrying the puck from the half wall through the high slot:
I think the key, if you want to score, you have to get a puck off the wall. That’s probably one thing I focused on at the start of this year. In years past, I probably got rid of the puck too soon or stayed on the outside. It’s just trying to get the puck and get to the middle of the ice. From there, you can have better opportunities and it’s harder to defend.