Is it too early to suggest that the old Dustin Brown is back?
Twelve games may not be an enormous sample size but it is enough to indicate that the Kings forward is recovering from difficult seasons on the ice and a most difficult summer off it.
He has seven points in 12 games, collecting two more assists in the Kings' 5-0 victory against Calgary on Saturday. Brown's six assists are the most among Kings forwards and the only teammate with more is the team's leading scorer, defenseman Alec Martinez, with seven.
"I'm just trying to have more fun playing the game," said Brown, who turned 32 on Friday. "It's hard … the last few years haven't been fun. If you're not having fun doing what you're doing, it doesn't matter whether it's playing hockey … it's tough sometimes to do that.
"I went through a lot this summer and came in with a little bit of a different mindset, just approach things a little different."
Brown's production dropped from 54 points in 2011-12 to 27 points in 2014-15 to 28 points last season. Moreover, he had to deal with losing the team captaincy to friend and longtime teammate Anze Kopitar.
Brown revealed there was a lot more to his angst than those matters.
"You just learn a lot as you go," he said after Saturday's game. "You've always got to stay a student and figure things out. It took me awhile to get my mind where I needed it to be to …In a weird way, I took everything so personally. Not even the summer stuff or the captain stuff.
"So this year there's a little less, I don't want to say pressure, but I can leave what happened at the rink and pick it up."
In comparison, Brown had three points in the first 12 games of last season and the season was more than a month old before he scored his first goal.
In addition to his two assists, Brown looked like his old dominant self against the Flames, making plays on the wall, going hard to the net, and doing those subtle things that don't show up on the score sheet."
"I think there's been games this year where I've probably had better games and I didn't have points," he said. "That's one of the quantifiable things: points. I do need to get them. But it's not the only aspect of what I bring."
There's been a tangible chemistry on his line with winger Devin Setoguchi and center Nic Dowd.
"Me and Nic, we talk a lot," Brown said. "He's kind of learning to play at this level, doing a really good job with the puck. It's more [playing] without the puck. That'll come."
When: Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. PST.
Where: Air Canada Centre.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: The Kings said the game will not be on 790 because of election coverage but will be available on MLBAM for the mobile app audio feed and Kings radio affiliates.
Update: As expected, the Kings activated goaltender Jeff Zatkoff from injured reserve and sent goalie Jack Campbell to their American Hockey League affiliate in Ontario (Calif.) Zatkoff injured his groin during the Kings' morning skate Oct. 22. Campbell appeared in part of one game during his call-up, playing the third period in the Kings' 4-0 loss to the Ducks on Tuesday.