Dustin Penner has already scored nine goals for the second-place Anaheim… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
The advantage that currently tilts to the Ducks in their rivalry with the Kings dates to July 16, when forward Dustin Penner officially ditched his black-and-white gear for a new Ducks sweater.
Penner, who helped the Ducks win the 2006-07 Stanley Cup, has given the second-place Ducks (18-7-4) all they hoped for this season. He has already equaled his goal total from the last two seasons with the Kings (nine) in just 22 games with Anaheim, while adding 12 assists and ranking in the NHL's top five in plus-minus goal differential while on the ice at plus-17.
Penner and the Ducks host the Kings on Tuesday.
During his two-plus seasons with the Kings, the team couldn't find a spot for Penner in its top two lines.
But the Ducks quickly placed him alongside first-line mates Ryan Getzlaf (13 goals, 18 assists this season) and Corey Perry (15 goals, 14 assists) and the trio's chemistry from 2006-07 has been reborn.
"He's a big body, takes up a lot of ice, and it creates more opportunities for both of us," Perry said. "He's either going to block out guys or people are going to track him. You have to be aware of him. He's going to be in front of the net. He has a good stick and a good set of hands to knock in those rebounds."
Penner said when he first joined the Kings, "I played with [ Anze] Kopitar and [ Justin] Williams for the first seven games, had a point a game." But Kopitar broke an ankle.
"I never played with him again," Penner said. "I would've liked to have played with Kopi a bit more."
This season, Penner has pressed through some training-camp conditioning concerns and an Oct. 20 concussion against Dallas.
"It's a coin flip of whether you bounce back 100% or if the next one puts you down for six months," he said of the concussion. "To be able to come out of that, improving my conditioning ... I think that's what got me on the right track where I am now, where I want to be."
Time to strike?
Teemu Selanne has 118 career points (52 goals) against the Kings, so the time seems right for him to break out of his 15-game goal-less slump that dates to Oct. 20.
"I've been through this before," he said. "You can't start forcing it or trying too hard. They're going to come automatically, the smooth way. Not the forcing way."
Selanne lost second-line wing Jakob Silfverberg to injury during his skid, and also missed three games after being hit in the mouth.
Defensemen Bryan Allen (lower-body injury) and Francois Beauchemin (upper-body injury) could both play Tuesday night, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said, although Allen appears more likely after practicing with the Ducks on Monday.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.
Etc.: At 9 a.m. Tuesday at anaheimducks.com, the team will unveil its special jerseys to be worn in its game against the Kings on Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium.