Skip to main content

Sharks' Brown relishes physical play, role as agitator

by Eric Gilmore

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Sharks forward Mike Brown said it was a case of hit or be hit early in the first period of Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

After firing a shot at goaltender Jonathan Quick from close range on a rush, Brown saw Kings defenseman Slava Voynov headed his way at full speed, trying to cut him off.

So Brown did what came natural. He put his left shoulder into Voynov and sent him flying into Quick. Voynov wound up on the ice and Quick wound up sprawled in the back of his net, sparking a scrum.

Pearn: Kings need less turnovers

For additional insight into the Stanley Cup Playoff series between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, has enlisted the help of former NHL coach Perry Pearn to break down the action. Pearn will be checking in throughout the series.

Pearn has spent the past 18 seasons as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and a second tenure with the Jets in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

SAN JOSE -- The towels move in unison. The giant Shark head descends from the ceiling. Smoke fills the area where it is going to end up on the ice.

SAP Center is one of the loudest buildings in the NHL, and fans of the San Jose Sharks get worked into a frenzy even before the opening faceoff. The Sharks went on the attack early against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of this Western Conference First Round series, and they fed off the energy created by both their play and the fans in a raucous atmosphere.

"The one thing I've always noticed when you go into San Jose is it's a tough building to play in. They are a very, very good home team," Pearn said. "The momentum got rolling San Jose's way, and it almost seemed to me like L.A. decided, 'Well, OK, we're going to try to get back in this by getting on the attack,' but I thought what really hurt them, and it's an area the Kings are usually so good in, is they had a lot of turnovers that created scoring chances and created zone time for San Jose. That just kind of fed into the momentum.

"The key goal to me was right at the end of the first period. If L.A. gets out of that period, even though they didn't play very well, if they get out 2-0 they go to the room with more belief they can back into it."

San Jose pushed the pace against Los Angeles, and the typically composed Kings did not respond in a positive manner. The Sharks controlled the opening period and added a pair of late goals to make the score line look more like what had transpired.

Each team loves to possess the puck, but the Kings struggled to get out of their zone without having to give it up. It became a cycle of momentum for the Sharks, as they continued to hem the Kings in from shift to shift.

If the Kings are going to improve in Game 2 on Sunday night (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-W, CSN-CA) at SAP Center, they are going to have to find a better way to combat the Sharks territorially.

"You have to talk about the little things," Pearn said. "One of the things I'd be pushing on the bench is I'd say, 'Let's make sure we are getting the puck behind their defense. Let's go finish some checks and see if we can create some zone time.'

"What happens when games are getting away is lines go out there, and if you're caught in your end for like 25-30 seconds, you finally get the puck and you get going, but you've already expended all your energy trying to get it back, so there is nothing left to attack with it. You have to be patient enough to say, 'OK, we can't attack, but let's get it down there in the right place and hopefully we can change the momentum by doing that so we don't get in more trouble.'"

-- Corey Masisak

"It's just like bowling," Brown said wryly. "Strike's better than a spare."

Brown, who received an interference penalty on the play, said it soon became clear Quick wasn't happy with being treated like a bowling pin.

"He was whacking me the whole game after that," Brown said. "It's good. Let him focus all his attention on me. I don't care. That kind of feeds into my game. I don't mind it.

"That's the goal is to get them to take their mind off of the game whatever kind of way you can. To get into the goalie, that's pretty much their No. 1 guy right there. To get him off the game, that's what you want."

When Brown sent Voynov into Quick, the Sharks led 1-0. They scored four more goals against Quick by the end of the second period to build a 5-0 lead and went on to a 6-3 victory. Quick was pulled after the second period.

"He's emotionally attached to the game, like a lot of guys are," Sharks forward Tommy Wingels said of Quick. "If you can get him off his game or distract him a bit, you're doing a good job."

Defenseman Jason Demers said the Sharks have to be prepared to see Quick as his best Sunday in Game 2 of the best-of-7 series at SAP Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-W, CSN-CA).

"We know he's going to come out and he's going to be his dominant self," Demers said. "He's going to want to get back after last game for sure. We just got to keep getting to him and try to back him in a little bit. He's a great goalie when he sees the puck, so we got to get in his eyes and keep playing the way we're playing against him. He's going to regroup pretty quick, I think. He's probably already forgot about last game."

Brown will again be on a fourth line with Raffi Torres and center Andrew Desjardins to remind Quick of his rough start. During practice Saturday, coach Todd McLellan kept all of his lines and defense pairings from Game 1 intact.

When the Sharks acquired Brown from the Edmonton Oilers in a trade Oct. 21, he arrived with a reputation for being a fighter. But according to Brown, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told him San Jose targeted him with an eye toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when his grit and energy would pay dividends.

"It's more my style of play, physical and gritty, playing the same team, same guys, seeing the same faces and getting on them," Brown said. "So it's right up my alley. It's fun. It's a fun time to play. We're all working at the same goal. It's fun to know you're in the race. Every game it's an important game, not like regular season where you can kind of slip up here and there."

Brown is one of the strongest Sharks, which didn't necessarily work in his favor on the hit that sent Voynov crashing into Quick and drew a penalty.

"I shot the puck on net and it was one of those things he was going to hit me or I was going to hit him," Brown said. "I certainly wasn't just going to let him come in and hammer me, so I put my weight into him and he ended up going into the goalie. You want to get that upper edge, you want to get the momentum and you want to get on their guys. That's part of my role, be that little agitator. So to do stuff like that is what I have to do."

Brown spent much of the day and night Wednesday at the hospital, where his wife, Kati, gave birth to a baby boy, Zane Michael Brown, their second child. The baby was born at 8:31 p.m.

"I left the hospital around midnight," Brown said. "It was great. I was originally planning on going there in the middle of the night. My wife thought it was going to be an in-the-middle-of-the-night baby. I kind of had it in my mind to get to sleep early and wake up in the middle of the night. But it happened during the day, so I was able to get home at a decent hour and get some sleep. I was good.

"I was a little more pumped than anything. I was good. The time that it happened gave me enough time to settle down. The win helped a lot."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.