Dustin Penner Brings Stability to the Kings / Post-Season Matchup Poll

Penner 3-15-11

Dustin Penner brings a lot to the Los Angeles Kings.

At 6’4″ 245 lbs, Penner is one of the biggest first line wingers in the league. He fills a glaring hole in the left wing rotation and gives Anze Kopitar someone reliable to pass to.

But Penner has provided something that Kings fans have been clamoring for all season: clear cut lines.

Making himself a mainstay at the LW1 position, Penner helps unblur the lines as to which forwards will be given which roles. In a season which we’ve seen Anze Kopitar play with 9 different wingers prior to Penner (Brown, Williams, Smyth, Simmonds, Richardson, Ponikarovsky, Handzus, not to mention Loktionov, and Dwight King) it seems unbelievable that the addition of just one player can bring an epiphany of clarity to a once murky situation.

But he has.

Without Penner, coach Terry Murray was forced to try out players to fit in the top two lines that probably didn’t belong there. Everyone had their flashes of success, but none looked as though they belonged there permanently. Now, there is a line etched in cement between the top 6 forwards and the bottom 6:

  • Top 6:
    • Kopitar
    • Penner
    • Williams
    • Stoll
    • Smyth
    • Brown
  • Bottom 6:
    • Handzus
    • Simmonds
    • Ponikarovsky
    • Lewis
    • Richardson
    • Clifford
    • Westgarth

Sure, the combinations within each of these 6 may change from time to time; I could see Brown maybe swapping with Williams or Richardson with Ponikarovsky.

I don’t, however, see any player changing which group he’s a part of. And that would be the first time this season when I could say that.

Notes from last night’s game against the Predators:

  • Penner is great with the puck in the offensive zone. Has all the skills of Frolov but can also drive to the net and actually do something with the puck outside of keeping it for too long and then turning it over or falling when he tries to shoot.
  • Kopitar is clearly benefiting from the addition of Penner, and playing with Williams is the best case scenario for him, as they both create the more for him than anyone else on the team could. Expect to see him continue to score with this combination.
  • Williams, while he has been great offensively with his new linemates, has been nothing short of a liability in the defensive zone. He had a turnover in the 3rd period that actually looked like he was trying to set up the opposing player with a one-timer.
  • Lewis gets better with every game. He is the team’s best penalty killing forward and I’m shocked he doesn’t have a short-handed goal yet. My guess is that he will get one before the end of the season.
  • Alec Martinez deserves more ice time. I wouldn’t mind seeing him bumped up to the 2nd line with Scuderi if Jack has a bad game. With the defensive pairings remaining so consistent, they may all have some false sense of job security. This would send an important message that now is no time for complacency, as was somewhat evident in the 3rd period of last night’s game.
  • With Kyle Clifford and Matt Greene in the lineup, does Kevin Westgarth need to see the ice for the rest of this season? I would say no.
  • When does Terry Murray give the keys back to Quick? Not until the playoffs start? Does he play the final game of the season? I like keeping him fresh but I would get that at some point he would want to get into a rythym.

I now feel confident in saying the Kings will make the playoffs again for the 2nd year in a row. Wavesinair gave a nice little breakdown of the situation today. It feels good.

Comments
3 Responses to “Dustin Penner Brings Stability to the Kings / Post-Season Matchup Poll”
  1. Dominick says:

    Nice article. Funny, over at the insider my list from top to bottom mirrors your list exactly. I try every once in a while to switch Brown with Willy, but no one will have it. I wouldn’t mind seeing it before the playoffs start so we can use it as a viable option if our first line gets shut down, instead of waiting till it happens to see if that might work.

    Your concerns about Quick are the same as mine also. I think the same thing sometimes, but have no choice but to trust that it’s the right call for now. It would be a big slap in the face to TM to be critisized 1 year for overworking his goalie and sending him into the playoffs tired, then the next year underworking him and sending him into the playoffs cold. I doubt it will happen that way, but stranger things have happened.

    • crownedroyal says:

      I think Williams is the better choice in terms of offensive chemistry, but his decisions with the puck are often questionable. Brown is a little more of a head-down skater, but he usually gets the puck where it needs to go.

      Great point about TM and under-working. I agree, it definitely could happen. Hopefully he lets him take over sooner than later, though it is hard to let him while Bernier is playing solid.

      Thanks for reading.

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