There was no full moon. It did not matter. Dustin Brown entered beast mode.
He scored two powerplay goals in the first period. He added a short handed goal early in the second and the hats came flying. The goal was scored right in front of my seats, but I wasn’t sitting in them.
I was walking the aisle when I looked up at the TV and saw Brown get a breakaway on the PK. As Dustin slid the puck in between Corey Crawford’s eager thighs, I exploded and ran down the hall of Staples yelling “Hat trick! Hat trick! Brown scored a fucking hat trick!”
Why the change? This was not the same team I saw the last several times I ventured to Staples Center. Tonight was the night Jeff Carter was supposed to come in and kickstart the Kings absentee offense. Was the addition of the wing Brown openly asked Dean Lombardi for two years ago the catalyst for our captain playing like one? Or did his names’ appearance in Bob McKenzie’s twitter feed burn Dustin’s ass the way he burned Chicago’s defense? I say both.
Many will see Brown’s performance as an advantageous and righteous middle finger thrown Lombardi’s way. Each goal an inch further Dustin’s lisping tongue creeps out and wags haughtily in Dean’s face. That’s a fair assessment. The flip side of that is that Lombardi employed Bob Murray tactics, letting his leader’s name appear in trade rumors in order to put the ball in the player’s court to perform or move on. It worked absolute miracles for Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks this year. Whether by design or happy accident, the potential for disenfranchisement could not have had a better impact on our captain.
Another theory I have is that Carter’s acquisition demanded from Dustin control of his captaincy to be taken. Mike Richards is a known and born leader. But this is Dustin’s team. Losing Jack Johnson, who has played under Brown’s leadership along with Kopitar and Doughty and others for 3 years now, for Carter, who is Richards’ #1 advocate, squarely puts the burden to grab his team by the reins on Brown’s shoulders.
Regardless of the reason, tonight Dustin had the type of game we have seen from him in the past and so desperately needed for the present of this team to be rectified and the future to grow brighter.
He didn’t do it alone. Kopitar drove the net with a force he has seldom displayed since Brooks Orpik sent him through the boards and back to Slovenia in his mind. Jarret Stoll had 3 assists and though they were all on the powerplay with Brown and Williams at his side, his even strength line of Penner-Stoll-Lewis gave the Kings several of the Kings best shifts. Penner was… Dare I say… Strong, physical and effective.
We do have to talk about Carter. He was good. I counted 3, maybe 4 shots from within 3 feet of the inner hash marks. He clearly has that knack for meeting the puck in the slot and better still, knows how to get his shots through encroaching stick checks. He and Richards showcased chemistry, created chances – Mike hit two posts himself – and despite some shifts where Carter’s unfamiliarity with the system came to the forefront, made his time on the ice of positive impact. He did have two crumby giveaways, but he also had 2 clean takeaways.
Finally I just have to say once again that I love Jordan Nolan in the way I love Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford. He is going to be one hell of a quality bottom six player and the exact kind of role player this team hasn’t had.
Did we just witness a statement game? The Kings have had dominating outings this season. Those were all farts in the wind. I want a new scent to pervade. I will smile myself to sleep tonight, but in order to wake up with that same smile I’m going to need to see this same impassioned, confident performance again and again and again.
Go Kings Go!
Categories: L.A. Kings News