|photo courtesy of Michael Zampelli|
Wayne Simmonds was perhaps one of the happiest guys on the LA Kings early last week. Not only had the team acquired a big left wing in Dustin Penner, but coach Terry Murray announced he would start Penner on a line with Simmonds and Anze Kopitar.
While Simmonds had seen top line minutes a few times throughout the season, more often than not, it was in a ‘fill-in’ role. This was an outright declaration of his spot on that line.
Yet, if one thing has been a constant this year on the team, it’s been change – as in line changes. Just two periods after being named to the line, he was replaced by Justin Williams.
Still – Simmonds had a first hand look at Penner as a linemate and has had about a week to get to know him better…
MM: It’s been a few games now, what have you seen from Dustin Penner so far?
WS: He’s a great player. He’s really good with the puck in tight. He has really good in tight hands, as you can tell. What you guys don’t see in the (dressing) room is he’s a great guy in the room. He’s already meshed really well with all the guys. He’s funny, everyone likes him and he’s fit perfectly into our team. So, it’s been great so far having him here.
MM: Besides the old ‘we need two points’ line, what are you thinking going into the upcoming games on the road?
WS: Well, we need two points (laughing). We’re playing well defensively lately. We just need to get pucks in the net. I think we need to keep driving the net more. We need to get more dirty goals, like the one Penner scored (vs. Vancouver). He got a greasy goal there and I think the majority of goals from here on out are going to be like that. You’re not going to get your bang-bang plays or anything like that really. You’re going to have to work for it. So, I think we have to be more determined around the net.