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Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown feels for plight of Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic

Nobody can empathize with the deep, dark offensive hole Milan Lucic has tumbled into more than his good friend and former Los Angeles teammate Dustin Brown, who’s been there, done that.

Brown, an old teammate and somebody Lucic trained with in the summers, has had his own tale of woe, and for a lot longer than Lucic. He had four years (15, 11, 11 and 14 goals) of wondering where his skill around the net went before finding it last year (28) and continuing on this season, while Lucic went into the game Thursday with a mind-boggling two goals in his previous 70 games.

“I still think he (Lucic) can be an effective player and there’s not too many like him in the league,” said Brown. “That’s the one thing he can focus on … same thing for me when I’m not able to score. You can affect the game in other ways.

“I know he’s been struggling a bit longer … it’s hard mentally, things get trapped in your own head and it can be challenging to that out of there. You do take it (offensive dark hole) home with you and it kind of consumes you.”

Brown still stays in contact with Lucic.

“Milan bought a house literally around the corner from me (in Los Angeles). We text back and forth, not a whole lot but just checking in with each other. Not too much hockey (talk). I’ve been there and it’s hard,” said Brown, playing the right side on the Kings top line with Anze Kopitar and Alex Iafallo.


Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen, who got the start in net against the Kings because coach Ken Hitchcock wants to “ride the hot hand”, played with Kings Ilya Kovalchuk in the KHL in St. Petersburg.

The Finnish netminder loved his time there in probably the most beautiful city in Russia, but says some of the KHL cities weren’t that great, outside the rink.

“There would be only one hotel and it would be (built) from the 1950s,” said Koskinen.

Koskinen said he watched NHL highlight packages while in Russia so kept abreast of what was going on in North America before signing with Oilers, mostly as a fan although he had it in the back of his mind to return to the NHL.

“I wouldn’t watch whole games but we had Apple TV in the locker room. Lots of goals usually the goalie didn’t look that good in the highlights,” laughed Koskinen. “Every Oiler game on TV, there would be lots of (Connor) McDavid.”

The Finns seemed to have taken over the NHL stats pages in the first two months of the season. Mikko Rantanen in Colorado leads the NHL in scoring, Patrik Laine in Winnipeg just scored five goals on five shots and Pekka Rinne in Nashville leads the goalies in save percentage and goals against average.

“I’m proud of the young guys who are coming but of course Pekka … it’s still incredible to see how good he is (at 36),” said Koskinen.


Winger Ty Rattie was scratched for a second straight game but Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock, who knows Rattie from another picture show as St. Louis bench boss, says he very much belongs in the mix.

“Yeah, he can be a top six forward for us providing he carries his weight, but I want to see other people there now,” said Hitchcock, who feels Rattie has improved his defensive play since he coached him with the Blues.

“He’s a different player, he’s on the right side of the puck now. He’s not hanging and hoping. He’s also fighting for space (offensively). Before he was looking for that because he was so much smarter than everybody in junior and got away with it.

“To me he’s part of our group of 13 (forwards) and I’m trying to extend the depth in our lineup. I know what he can give me and I’m satisfied with him.”

This ’n that: Oilers advisor Paul Coffey has spent time working with 2018 top draft Evan Bouchard back in junior in London. Bouchard has 12 points in nine games and is plus-16 with the Knights … Hitchcock on what he likes about first-line winger Alex Chiasson: “He goes to the net, stays at the net and scores at the net. The way people are defending Connor and Leon (Draisaitl) on that line, defending them by pushing them to the outside, we need more areas to penetrate and Alex is one of the best at occupying space around the net.”


On Twitter: @NHLbyMatty

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