A few weeks back, after a Kings win over the visiting Anaheim Ducks, coach Darryl Sutter gave us this great list when asked about the status of defenseman Alec Martinez – “He’s on injured reserve. Remember the deal? When they come off injured reserve, then you’ll know the update. Active, non-roster, inactive, injured, hurt, sick, not dressed, healthy scratch, on waivers.”
In thinking about Dustin Penner‘s 105 regular season games with the Kings, you could easily compile a similar exhaustive list to describe his status, as it’s rarely been consistent for very long – top line, second line, third line, fourth line, healthy scratch and, yes, even injured at times.
After the trade that brought him back to SoCal in February 2011, he was immediately placed up front with Anze Kopitar. That lasted all of a few games before an injury to the Slovenian center caused a massive shake-up in the Kings line-up. They’ve never really been put back together since.
“I’m old enough now where it doesn’t affect me as much,” said Penner when asked about the change. “Darryl actually talked to me about it. It’s about the end game for the team, which is a win. So, however I can help the team win.”
The move was as much about Penner’s lack of offense this year – just one goal scored in 21 games – as it was about finding a way to get rookie Tyler Toffoli into the line-up.
“It was the same when I was coming up,” said the two-time Stanley Cup champion. “We want to help his growth. He’s a good goal scorer. We want balance with the lines, so I’ll move wherever they want me. Whether it was third line at one point, second, fourth; I’ve been on them all. Right side, left side; I don’t look at it in any other way than where I am is to help the team.”
In fact, it was the switch to the right side that was perhaps the most interesting. Yes, Penner played on his off-wing at times in Edmonton, but that was quite a while ago.
A similar move has paid dividends for Dustin Brown, and he actually prefers it.
“It’s an adjustment because you’ve created your habits,” Penner remarked. “You’re used to coming in one side, coming up, getting a pass on your forehand, opening up to the ice, and now on the right side it’s just a little bit different. I think my left leg is a little shorter than my right, so it makes it easier being on my off wing.”
Without the benefit of a measurement, we’ll just take his word on that one. Or not.
“The one thing I will say about it is you’re more open to the ice on your off wing,” Penner shared, when asked if he had a preference.
“(Overall), I feel great. The timing is good. I don’t feel like I have timing issues with anyone on the team; I don’t think. We play within a system that is ingrained and drilled into us every single day. So guys should be in the right position at the right time.”
Penner also added that timing does improve slightly the more you play with the same guys.
“I think it does. I just don’t think it does to the extent that people think. I don’t think it’s as big of a discrepancy.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a conversation with Penner without a little sarcasm mixed in. He even managed to flip the script when we noted he looked like he’s had some extra jump in his step since the move.
“Reinvigorated, youthful enthusiasm,” he fired back. “I’ve had jump in my step for a while now.”
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