Here’s the latest entry for Dustin Penner’s Awful L.A. Adventure logbook: He’s been dropped out of the Kings’ top-six for tonight’s contest against Dallas. Scott Parse, a healthy scratch for the last six games, will draw into the lineup and play on L.A.’s second line with Mike Richards and Dustin Brown. Penner will drop to the third line with Jarret Stoll and Brad Richardson.
This goes without saying, but being replaced for a guy that hasn’t played in 19 days is probably a bad sign. And just in case Penner’s demotion was somehow misinterpreted, Kings head coach Terry Murray clarified it to Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider:
“The game last night [vs. New Jersey] was a little bit of a drop-off. The conversation that we just had was about that. The whole concept with him right now, for me, is to keep working hard with the intensity, get that game to a higher consistent level.’’
Penner’s been a dud since the Kings acquired him at February’s trade deadline. Last year he had just six points in 19 regular season games and struggled throughout L.A.’s opening-round series against San Jose, where he was dangerously close to being a healthy scratch himself.
Things haven’t gotten much better this season. Penner has just one point through six games (admittedly, he’s dealt with an injured knee) and hasn’t developed any offensive chemistry with his teammates. This is a problem considering the rest of L.A.’s top six have all had their moments this year. “The first line of Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams got off to a strong start,” Hammond writes. “Mike Richards has been a force on the power play. Dustin Brown had a two-point game against St. Louis. Then there’s Penner, who has zero goals and one assist in six games.”
The craziest part of all this is that Penner’s in a contract year. You know, the year when notoriously inconsistent players often put it together so they can net a huge payday…then go back to being inconsistent. (See: Bieksa, Kevin.)
Penner needs to figure things out, and quickly. The Kings have made it clear they’re looking for another offensive piece in the top six and down in the AHL, Andrei Loktionov has 11 points in nine games for the Manchester Monarchs. He’s a natural center, but also a left-handed shot. You do the math from there.