From high in the sky, Murray and Penner like what they see

Left wing Dustin Penner (photo: M. Zampelli)

Dustin Penner entered the season penciled in on the left side of the Kings’ top unit. More recently though, he’s been playing on the third line.

Although he’s yet to produce a goal – and regardless of how or why he ended up two lines lower – coach Terry Murray likes what he’s been seeing.

So, when Simon Gagne returns to action on Thursday night vs. the Edmonton Oilers, he’ll be playing with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Penner will skate with Jarret Stoll and Brad Richardson.

After practice today, Murray explained why he wants Penner there …

“I don’t know if it was the fact that he started to play with Stoll and Richardson or exactly what it was. But, there seemed to be a little more work involved on his part of the game. I think there was more movement in the offensive zone, using his size. I like the way he got involved in the physical part of the game, in several of those looks in the offensive zone in the past couple of games. But, I still feel that he is sometimes looking for the perfect play to shoot the puck – get back to that movement, get back to cycling, get back to reading off each other with a little better spacing in the offensive zone. When you work at that part of it, I think the offensive part falls in place much easier.”

Murray then shared a little bit from a conversation he recently had with Penner…

“His overall effort is good. His work is good. He started to show me that when I put him with Stoll and Richardson. So, I just said, ‘Hey, I like it.’ And he liked it. I talked to him on the plane, on the flight to Dallas. We reviewed all of his shifts from the previous game (vs New Jersey). When you put it under the microscope and watch the first period, when he was with Kopi and then the second and third period, when he was with Stoll, there was a lot of offensive zone time. In fact, every shift that he was on the ice with Stoll and Richardson in the second and third periods, it was in the offensive zone. So, when we watched it, clearly that jumps out at you. He said, ‘Yeah, that looks pretty good. It felt good too.’ That’s why I’m going to leave him (there). Keep bringing that work ethic to the game, most importantly.”

What all of this also means is that Scott Parse will remain on the second line with Mike Richards and Dustin Brown.

Later today, we’ll post some comments from Parse and Murray about #21′s improved play of late.

In the meantime, be sure to vote – who do you think should be the LA Kings Player of the Month for October? (linked here) – and/or check out some of the related articles below.

The Mayor
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