Kings Coach Darryl Sutter says he plans on keeping Dustin Penner on the ice,… (Alex Gallardo / Associated…)
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter has tried tough love (criticism in the media), no love (banishment from the lineup) and more love (playing on a line with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.)
So now how should he handle Dustin Penner?
Penner has two goals in 29 games this season. If you examine a wider sample, he has 9 goals in 94 games since the start of last season.
But those aren't the numbers that offer hope, promise and a coach and impatient fan base reason for optimism. Remember, Penner also had 11 points — including three goals — in 20 playoff games during the Kings' run to the Stanley Cup.
Sutter seems inclined to use his playbook from last season.
"We're trying to make the playoffs here," he said Wednesday after practice. "And similar to last year where we just made a decision later in the year that we were going to play him and let him … basically see what happens.
"That's kind of what I'm doing now.... It's very simple. We went through the very same thing. We went with the experienced guy with Richards and Carter and that's what we're trying right now."
In other words, it does not sound as though there will be lingering ramifications from Penner's turnover that set up the Sharks' first goal Tuesday in the Kings' shootout loss at San Jose.
In the first month, Penner was a healthy scratch in seven of eight games and later was scratched in three straight games, starting at Chicago on March 25. More recently, Penner missed four games with a lower-body injury.
"There's no deep, dark answer or anything like that," Sutter said. "That's what we're trying to do. How's he played? He hasn't played well enough. But that's obvious — we've played 40 games and he's got two goals."
Defenseman Matt Greene, who has missed all but one game this season because of a back surgery, is moving closer to a return.
His adjustment period probably won't be difficult because of the straightforward nature of his game. "I think at this level if you come back and you can't do your job then you're not going to play," Greene said. "You're here for a reason. If I can't kill a penalty, I'm not going to be playing.
"I wouldn't want to do what those [other] guys do, make skilled plays and stuff like that. All you've got to do is get in the way sometimes, that's all I really do."
KINGS VS. COLUMBUS
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Fox Sports West; Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Blue Jackets: 2-0.
Update: The Blue Jackets are attempting to make the playoffs for the second time in the 13-year existence of the franchise. Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was the league's first star for the week ending April 14, going 3-0-0 and stopping 100 of 103 shots.