By Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – One minute Dustin Brown was nearly bent over backward in pain. Later he was prone, face down on the ice after a taking a hit from behind.
“It’s almost comical to watch because you think he runs on batteries sometimes,” forward Dustin Penner said Wednesday. “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 was the recipient of a Ron Hextall-like slash from to the back of the legs by Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night. In the third period, Brown was sent crashing into the end boards by Martin Hanzal, who was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Brown was shaken up but he didn’t miss a shift. He was held without a shot on goal in Game 2 but was credited with six hits.
Perhaps understandably, Brown took a pass on the Kings’ optional skate on Wednesday.
“I was a little shocked at how quick he did get up from the way it looked,” Jarret Stoll said. “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].”
Brown’s resiliency again set the tone for L.A., as did his composure in not retaliating against a Phoenix team that was frustrated and literally trying to bump the Kings off their game.
L.A.’s aggressive forecheck and ability to be physical throughout all four lines has overwhelmed Phoenix as the series moves to Staples Center for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Sunday. The Coyotes, who entered the series averaging 9.5 penalty minutes a game, took 56 minutes’ worth on Tuesday. That included Shane Doan’s second-period major and game misconduct for boarding Trevor Lewis and a similar call against Hanzal.
The Kings are prepared for more rough stuff and say they won’t veer from a blueprint that has taken them on a 10-1 tear through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They outshot Phoenix 88-51 in two games and outscored the Coyotes 8-2 while winning both games at Jobing.com Arena.
“It doesn’t make any sense to retaliate,” Stoll said. “You got to just play the game. We were in a good situation to not retaliate. They want to get something going and set the tone for the next game and maybe that was part of their mindset, but we’ve got to stay within the game, stay within ourselves and realize the situation that we’re in and how we got there.
“As far as we’re concerned, they’ve got to adjust to us. If we keep playing our game, keep playing the way we want to play, hopefully that’s what they’ll have to do. We got to worry about ourselves. We can’t worry about them. Obviously our game is in the right place, and we’re winning hockey games. You can’t change anything.”
The Kings have bought into coach Darryl Sutter's system so thoroughly that they've learned not to get caught up in their opponents’ games within the games. Penner said disciplined play has been an emphasis from the start of the postseason.
“We talk about that a lot since Game 1 against Vancouver," he said, "playing between the whistles and making sure we don’t let anything the other team does affect how we play the game."