Kings forward Dustin Penner, right, tries to keep his balance after being… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
EDMONTON, Canada -- The first casualty of the Kings’ slow start turned out to be left wing Dustin Penner, a healthy scratch for Thursday night’s game here against the Oilers.
Kyle Clifford will be taking Penner’s spot on the second line with Jeff Carter and center Mike Richards, at least at the start. Penner thought this move might be serving as a wakeup call for the Stanley Cup champion Kings, off to an 0-2 start.
“It’s one of those things that the guillotine has to fall somewhere when the team under-produces and more times than not, it’s fallen on me,” said Penner, who especially struggled in the 3-1 loss at Colorado on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for Penner, the benching comes against one of his former teams, the Oilers. At different times, Penner was a healthy scratch in his Edmonton days, falling into the doghouse of then-coach Craig MacTavish.
“I think we’ve been there before,” Penner said after Thursday’s morning skate. “It’s unfortunate. I wish I could say I’ve played better. But I haven’t. It’s on me. And I’ve gotta play better.”
The other part of the equation is trying to jump-start the likes of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, pointless in two games.
“It’s getting Richie and Jeff, somebody with them right now, that can get them going and sustain a pace of play the way the game is right now,” said Kings Coach Darryl Stutter. “That’s the hard part.”
Tough love, again?
“He [Sutter] has the best intentions for me. I’ve had a lot of tough love,” Penner said. “And this is different and similar in a lot aspects. Obviously I can be better and I have to be. It’s one of those things, one of the coaches said I’m too good of a player to be average and I’ve been average the first two games.”
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