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By Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor - Archive - Email
Kings glad to have Brown around
Dustin Brown arguably has been the best player for the Kings in this postseason.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Back in February, when the Los Angeles Kings hardly resembled the juggernaut that so far has breezed its way through the Western Conference portion of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the club was desperate to find improvement.

One of the ways Kings general manager Dean Lombardi chose to boost his team's fortunes was by acquiring winger Jeff Carter from Columbus, but the move that helped L.A. the most was the one the GM didn't make.

Although Lombardi has never confirmed that he was shopping captain Dustin Brown to teams around the NHL, the rumor that the forward was on the trading block has persisted. At this point, with Brown leading the charge for the suddenly spectacular Kings, the mere suggestion that he could've been dealt is already becoming the stuff of legend.

Brown arguably has been the best player for the Kings in this postseason and that's saying something considering what the eighth-seeded club has done this spring. After taking the first two games of the Western Conference finals in Phoenix, Los Angeles is sporting a 10-1 record this postseason and a 7-0 mark on the road.

The play of goaltender Jonathan Quick has been a major factor in the Kings' success this spring, but the top line of Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams is right up there as well. Brown is leading that line -- and all skaters left in the playoffs -- with 14 points on seven goals and seven assists.

Brown supplies the muscle on that top unit and he's been a handful for opposing teams to deal with. Listed at 6 feet, 207 pounds, the American winger plays even bigger than his size indicates and he is gaining a reputation as one of the most dangerous open-ice hitters in the game.

His teammates have certainly taken notice of Brown's desire to put his body on the line to deliver the big hits and some of the Kings players seem to be in awe of the energy their captain brings to the ice.

"It's almost comical to watch because you think he runs on batteries sometimes," Kings forward Dustin Penner said. "He keeps on going. You can knock him down, but you can't keep him down. He takes a lot of punishment because he gives it out, and he?s been that type of leader all year -- not just the last game or the last series."

Brown's ability to get up after taking punishment was on full display in Game 2 against the Coyotes. Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith delivered a vicious slash to the back of Brown's leg at one point in the second period. Smith was dealt a slashing minor, but for some reason Brown also was given two minutes for diving and had to hobble his way to the box to serve the penalty.

Even scarier was the ugly boarding incident in the third period that saw Phoenix forward Martin Hanzal drill Brown face-first into the end boards. The officials called that one right, handing Hanzal a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct. Hanzal was later suspended one game by the league for the brutal hit.

"I was a little shocked at how quick he did get up from the way it looked," Kings forward Jarret Stoll said after the game. "It was a pretty dangerous play -- Brownie's a tough guy. He'll be getting some work done on the old neck today, I'm sure. But he'll be back and ready (for Game 3)."

The ability to not only dish out, but also absorb punishment has allowed the soft-spoken Brown to lead by example.

It's hard to believe that only a few months ago trading Brown seemed like a valid way to improve the Kings. Now, it's difficult to imagine L.A. being successful without him.

DEVILS EVEN SERIES WITH RANGERS; GABORIK BENCHED

New Jersey evened the Eastern Conference finals with the New York Rangers on Wednesday, posting a 3-2 win in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden.

The big story heading into the game was Devils head coach Peter DeBoer's decision to put star wingers Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise on a top line centered by Travis Zajac. Kovalchuk wound up scoring a goal on the power play in the first period, but it was David Clarkson who supplied the game-winner on a deflection early in the third.

The Rangers are experiencing some difficulty with the relentless fore-checking of the Devils and at times have had serious problems clearing the zone. New York's star winger Marian Gaborik made a bad effort on one clearing attempt and that mistake allowed New Jersey to tie the game at 2-2 late in the second period.

Gaborik's blunder also led to him getting benched for most of the third period. He sat for the first 11 minutes of the final stanza and skated for just over three minutes in the period overall.

This isn't the first time Gaborik's playing time has suffered this postseason, as head coach John Tortorella also sliced his minutes in the opening round against Ottawa.

Gaborik, who is tied for second on the Rangers with 10 points this postseason, responded positively to the previous benching and he'll have to bounce back again if New York wants to rebound with a win in Saturday's Game 3 battle in New Jersey.


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