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At the Rink blog

Penner returns for Kings, but Sutter wants improvement

Saturday, 02.18.2012 / 3:50 PM

By Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Penner returns for Kings, but Sutter wants improvement
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter issued probably his harshest assessment yet of disappointing winger Dustin Penner after the team’s Saturday morning skate.

Penner will return to the lineup on Saturday night against Calgary, and an unusually chatty Sutter made it clear it was only by necessity because Kevin Westgarth has a sore hand.

“He’s a veteran,” Sutter said of Penner. “He better step up to the plate - very simple. He came out of the lineup because he was horse (expletive).  He better step up to the plate or he might not get another look. Simple.”

Penner has been a healthy scratch the past three games and has been a major disappointment to the team that is paying him $4.25 million this season.

He has five goals and 13 points with a minus-6 rating in 43 games this season. L.A. has opted to play rookies Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, who have a combined 12 games of NHL experience, on the second line although Penner has been available.

Westgarth fought Paul Bissonnette of Phoenix on Thursday night.

“If we really needed it tonight (Westgarth would be in), but it’s not the type of team we’re playing,” Sutter said.

Stoll out: Jarret Stoll is not yet ready to return from a hip muscle injury, Sutter said.

The Kings put Trent Hunter on waivers Friday to open up a roster spot for Stoll but his activation will have to wait, meaning King and Nolan will stay up with the club in the meantime.

Hunter cleared waivers Saturday.

Leapfrog game: Los Angeles would fall out of the top eight of the Western Conference with a loss tonight, but Sutter said he didn’t look at it that way.

“You know what? There’s two spots for seven or eight teams, so I don’t see any difference in those teams,” Sutter said. “It comes down to … head-to-head against those teams.”

A lack of scoring is sinking L.A., and Sutter addressed what he perceived to be criticism for a lack of effort in that department.

“They connect effort with scoring and that’s really unfair to the players,” Sutter said.

Sutter said all these close, low-scoring games his team is involved in is good for a team that is still young.
“For me that’s a good measuring stick for a lot of guys that haven’t either been in that position or haven’t had success in that position,” he said. “The biggest mistake that everybody made with this group here was (giving them big) expectations because they lost in the first round last year. That’s got nothing to do with anything.”

Gagne skating: Simon Gagne has been skating for the first time since he suffered a concussion on Dec.26 but there is no timetable for his return.

Simmer honored: Former King Charlie Simmer will be honored before the game in the third edition of the Kings Legends Night series.

Simmer played on the Triple Crown line with Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He is second on the franchise’s all-time scoring list among left wings with 222 goals and ninth on the team’s all-time scoring list.

Simmer is a television color analyst for Calgary. The Kings will wear their vintage purple-and-gold uniforms.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

FLAMES

Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos - Michael Cammalleri - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Krys Kolanos
Paul Byron - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff

KINGS

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson - Colin Fraser - Dustin Penner

Drew Doughty - Rob Scuderi
Willie Mitchell - Jack Johnson
Matt Greene - Davis Drewiske

 Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday