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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Much more went into Kings than Quick fix

Team can win even if super goalie blows one

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So the L.A. Kings can win even when goalie Jonathan Quick makes a mistake.

Sunday night's Western Conference Game 1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes confirmed that the Kings are more than just a hot goalie.

The 4-2 road victory also provided plenty of evidence that Dustin Brown is the best player left in these playoffs and an early favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The storyline of the Kings considering a trade involving Brown at the deadline has had some play, but the L.A. front office will tell you there was never really much interest in moving their captain.

Good thing, because Brown has been at his best in the post-season, providing an all-around game with heft and finesse.

The 27-year-old Brown leads all scorers still active in the post-season with 13 points, trailing only eliminated Flyer Claude Giroux and his 17 points.

Brown has seven goals and six assists and has registered four multi-point games for the Kings in the 10 they've played. He's been physical and Kings coach Darryl Sutter has been comfortable playing Brown's line in all situations.

Brown logged over 19 minutes of work Sunday and banged home the winner.

The goalies in this series have received a lot of the talk but Brown is the Kings' MVP to this point and a clear-cut front-runner in the Conn Smythe race.

 

HUNTS GOES HOME: The official line out of Washington is that Capitals coach Dale Hunter is going home to run his London Knights and be with his family, but you can bet there's more to it.

Hunter was given the green light to run the Caps the way he wanted to and that included limiting Alex Ovechkin's ice in the post-season.

But playing Ovechkin as little as 10 minutes a night going forward wasn't going to fly with owner Ted Leonisis. Hunter had a chance to see what it is like dealing with today's NHLer and decided to pass.

Toronto Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins will be on the list in Washington and if he gets an interview don't be surprised if he gets the job. Eakins is a very impressive individual in a one-one-one situation. He's intelligent, intense and confident. The one knock on Eakins has been his lack of playoff experience, but he's got his Toronto Marlies in the Calder Cup semifinals.

Another name to watch is former Blackhawks assistant Mike Haviland. A finalist for the Jets' job last summer, Haviland got caught in a power struggle in Chicago, but will get a look in Calgary and maybe Washington.

 

MR. NICE GUY: Shane Doan has a well deserved reputation as a nice fellow and reportedly doesn't swear on the ice -- or anywhere for that matter. But the more one gets to see him play, and with the Coyotes advancing to the third round for the first time in team history we're seeing him more of him than ever, it's evident he's got a mean streak as well.

Calling Doan a dirty player would be a stretch, but he's not afraid to use his stick for things other than scoring. The high cross-check he delivered on Dustin Brown and the body-slam move he put on Mike Richards in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final were fine examples of a player willing to bend the rules in order to win.

Doan is heavy and difficult to move and effective in high-traffic areas. Standing around in the slot usually isn't rent-free. A player must be able to give and take and Doan is showing to be very capable. If you're just getting to know him as a player, it's tough to not love his game.

 

STILL WORKING: The NHL used 20 referees in the first round, 12 in the second and will trim down to eight in the third round before going to just four in the final. NHL vice-president and director of officiating Terry Gregson wrote in an email to the Free Press on Monday the following officials will work the conference finals: Brad Watson, Kevin Pollock, Dan O'Rourke, Chis Rooney, Dan O'Halloran, Wes McCauley, Chris Lee and Kelly Sutherland.

Gregson said, "performance is the criteria," in selecting which officials move forward.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2012 D1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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