Kings Gameday: Analyzing Dustin Brown

If I had to pick the whipping boy among Kings fans this season, it'd be Terry Murray. Then it'd be Kevin Westgarth. But after them, it'd be Dustin Brown. He's an odd person to dislike: Brown's 26, captain of the team, hits a lot, doesn't take dumb penalties, seems nice enough. And yet, after every Kings' loss, there is talk of benching Brown, mentions of how he isn't a true 1st line player*, and all that jazz.

*Dustin Brown is 15th in scoring among right wingers this season.

The one thing I keep hearing, and the one that bothers me the most, is that he's inconsistent. Why does this bother me so much? Because this is the thing I heard about Frolov, and Cammalleri, and Demitra, and Allison, and Palffy, and every single offensive player on the Kings that isn't Wayne Gretzky. It's said of every hockey player whenever they struggle. It's the first step in the turning of a fanbase onto a certain player.

Not only that, but it isn't true... well, it's true, but it's true of all hockey players. All hockey players are inconsistent or streaky. There is no player in the league who is perfectly consistent on a year-to-year basis. Sidney Crosby is no more consistent than, say, Anze Kopitar, except Crosby fluctuates between 1 and 3-point games instead of 0 and 2-point games like Kopitar does. Brown's no different; he has his good games, and his bad games, and they sometimes line up together to create streaks. It's basic probability. So why does he get so much flak?

The simple answer would be: Dustin Brown's a weenie... so that's it. See you later, everyone!

But that's not really it. Brown has his struggles but let's compare him to, say, Justin Williams. Here are their game-by-game stats this season:

Brown Williams 10-Game Totals
1 1
1 0
0 2
2 1
1 1
0 0
1 1
0 1
0 1
1 1    7, 9 = 16
0 2
0 1
2 2
1 1
2 1
1 1
0 2
1 0
0 1
0 1    7, 12 = 19
0 1
0 0
0 0
1 1
1 2
1 0
2 1
2 1
2 0
2 1    11, 7 = 19
0 0
4 1
0 1
2 1
2 0
0 0
0 1
0 0
0 1
0 0    8, 5 = 13
1 2
0 0
0 0
2 1
0 1
0 0
0 0
0 1
1 0
0 1    4, 6 = 10
0 0

This is kind of fun to look at, if you ask me. Even more fun? Looking at their numbers in terms of how many points they scored on a given night:

Brown Williams
0-Games 27 19
1-Games 13 27
2-Games 10 6
3-Games 0 0
4-Games 1 0

 

Looking at these, you can tell that Brown is the more boom-or-bust player of the two. He has far more 0-point games than Williams and also has more 2-point games. Williams generally gets his points in 1-point games so in a game-by-game basis he's more consistent. That could explain why fans think Brown struggles more: he has more games where he goes scoreless, which means he's useless if you're not paying attention to the game itself.

But I don't think that's the main reason why Brown gets more flak than Williams. Looking at their 10-game splits, I think you can see why Williams doesn't get as derided as Brown does. Williams had his best 2 months at the beginning of the season, when the Kings were winning a ton. I think fans solidified in their minds that Williams was playing well because he was playing well when the Kings were winning and haven't gone back and reconsidered their opinion. Brown played his best in December, when the Kings went through a very rough patch, so he didn't get a cred built up with the fanbase. They've both fallen off a cliff recently but Williams' struggles in the past 20 games are brushed off while Brown's are put under the microscope.

Plus, there's the whole fact that Brown is the captain and Williams is not, Brown's signed for a bunch more years while Williams is not, Brown's peak is flattening out while Williams has been there for a few years, etc. You know how everyone goes through that phase when they're 26 where they're kind of frustrated by the fact that they're not going to be a millionaire or marry a model or all those stupid things we kind of assumed would happen when we were kids? I think fans go through the same thing with their hockey players. When Brown was 18 it was easy to imagine him as a bruising 80-point scorer that kicked ass and took names and now he's... Dustin Brown and everyone's disappointed. They forget that Dustin Brown is still actually pretty good. If he were more consistent he would be better, but he's not because he isn't better. If he were, he wouldn't be him.*



 

Prediction: Kings win, 4-2. Goals by Brown (x2) and Williams (x2).

*"What?" "Exactly."

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