"I thought his effort in the game against Anaheim at home was pretty good. He had his feet moving. There was a good intent in his game."
"It's, 'Bring it out every day, every shift.' We've got to get to that area and that time, when we're looking at him at the end of the day and saying, `That's an excellent game.'"
Those are quotes from Los Angeles Kings head coach Terry Murray a few days after their season-ending home-and-home series with the Anaheim Ducks.
Had you not already read the headline and saw the main photo, you might have thought Murray was talking about one the Kings' young players or a player, like a Justin Williams, who was working his way back from injury.
Instead, Murray was talking about Dustin Penner, a guy who's been a consistent 20-plus goal scorer and a durable player since he entered the league in 2005, but has yet to make an impact since being acquired by the Kings at the trade deadline.
How bad is Penner struggling to contribute offensively? Since St. Patrick's Day, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (3) has more points than Penner (1).
Through 19 regular season games in Los Angeles, Penner scored twice and had six points taking some time to adjust to his new surroundings and linemates, but sporting one assist and being a minus-4 through the first four games of their series with the San Jose Sharks, lines, they are a-changin' for Terry Murray.
Said Penner, of being dropped to the fourth line:
"I think everybody is frustrated. … I think I'm over-thinking a lot, with a new team. Just not going out there and playing the game that got me where I am."
When Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams went down with injuries in late March, Penner was one of the Kings' stars that was expected to step up offensively, but he's gone into a funk since.
But as the Kings face the final days of their 2010-11 season, patience is running thin with Penner as Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty pointed out on Thursday:
The time has come for Murray to take a new, more direct tact with Penner, who has done little to nothing to earn the trust that Murray mentioned. After all, Penner is a veteran player who has a Stanley Cup ring on his finger and has the skill to be a difference maker, the exact opposite of what he has been so far.
As for Penner, he needs to figure it out, and fast. But will he?
Let's just say that the odds of that happening are not looking good at all.
It remains to be seen what the Trade Deadline Day package of Colten Teubert, a 2011 first-round pick and a conditional third-rounder in 2012 for Penner turns into down the road; but at the moment, the adjustment period is taking far too long for the Kings to afford.