NEWARK, N.J. -- Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown this morning said he had no problem sleeping last night, the eve of Game One of the Stanley Cup final, but he's ready to start the best-of-seven series against the New Jersey Devils. The opener is set for 8 p.m. in the Prudential Center.
"I slept fine," Brown said. "The afternoon nap might be a little more difficult. It’s going to be more [emotional] when we get here tonight. It felt like any other morning to me. When we get here tonight, the nerves are going to pick up."
The Kings made quick work of the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes and lost just two games in the first three rounds to reach the finals for the first time since 1994. They've had plenty of time to relax in between series but have effectively been able to regenerate the energy and unity that carried them this far in the first place.
"It has allowed us to enjoy what we accomplish in the series that just ended," Brown said. "On the flip side, a few days later, you hit the reset button and get that work mentality back. You want to keep playing. From a rest standpoint, to get where we are and have the rest that we’ve had, it’s definitely a positive."
Brown, 27, who grew up in Ithaca and played frequently in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse as a kid, is making his first appearance in the finals. It's hardly his first big game. He played for the United States in the 2010 Olympics, losing the gold medal to Canada. He's leading the Kings with seven goals and 16 points and is plus-13 in 14 postseason games.
"It’s important for some guys like myself and some younger guys to understand that we might not have this chance again and be ready to go from a playing standpoint," Brown said. "It’s nice to sit here and pat everyone’s back. At the end of the day, we haven’t done everything."
--- Bucky Gleason