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Dean Lombardi’s damning praise of Dustin Penner

The Royal Half, one of our favorite Los Angeles Kings blogs, is running a contest called "Penner Point." The premise is simple: Pick the time and period in a given game when Kings forward Dustin Penner(notes) picks up "his first point of the night," and win a free shirt.

The good news: The Royal Half still has a large inventory of shirts. The bad news: Dustin Penner hasn't scored a point since his assist on Oct. 18 against the St. Louis Blues.

And it was a secondary assist, no less.

We touched on the Dustin Penner Problem last week and, alas, it remains a problem. The new addition to the punchline: Jonathan Quick(notes) has as many points as Penner on Nov. 8, heading into the Kings' game against the Nashville Predators.

Rich Hammond brought up the scoring race between the Kings' starting goaltender and their $4 million 2011 trade deadline prize in an interview with GM Dean Lombardi today. So, Deano, is there hope for Penner? From LA Kings Insider:

"The first thing you look for is whether a guy is getting chances. One thing that was encouraging last night was that he got chances. You really get nervous, when a guy who should get you 20, 25 goals — I know he's had 30, but in today's game it's harder — and he's not getting chances, that's when you really get nervous. Last night, he had three quality chances. I don't think he'd had that in three weeks. So you've got to build on that. There's no doubt in my mind that he's pressing. That's the biggest thing. When you're pressing, you're caught in between, or the legs feel really heavy. I'm encouraged by the fact that he got chances last night. Hey, you've just got to keep working through it. This is a guy who has done it before. We've got to find a way to get it out of him."

No kidding. Well, at least Penner had more scoring chances against the San Jose Sharks than he's had in the last three weeks. Is there any other damning praise Dean Lombardi can give Dustin Penner?

"The one thing, to his credit, he's not in elite shape but he certainly made the effort to get in average shape, and he is continuing here. I see him here, working out in the gym before practice, something that he never did before. So he is making that effort."

"Dustin Penner … a man of average shape and great expectations … godspeed, good sir."

Read the full "what, no panic?" interview here.

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