Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Penner will return to the ice for Saturday's game against his former team, the Anaheim Ducks, after watching from the sidelines for four consecutive games, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Penner has been a healthy scratch in all but two games this season, in which he had no points and a minus-2 defensive rating. His underwhelming play to start the season once again left him in head coach Darryl Sutter's doghouse, an all too familiar situation. This isn't the first time Penner has dealt with being a healthy scratch, missing a handful of games last season due to the identical reason.
At 6-4, 245 pounds, Penner has a good combination of size and scoring ability, yet has struggled to put it all together consistently since joining the Kings in February of 2011. Sutter seems to use the benching as a way of motivating his 30-year-old left wing. Penner's game improved last season after being held out of the lineup, and the team hopes it will have the same effect on him again this time around. He played his best hockey last year in the playoff's, recording 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) and 35 hits in 20 postseason games, while playing on the second line alongside center Mike Richards and right wing Jeff Carter. The eight-year veteran will likely to return to the second line for Saturday's game.
Penner seemed at peace with being a healthy scratch for four games, and understands there are expectations for him to produce.
He also recognized the potential impact he can have on a game with his big body, something that can benefit the team tremendously.
Forward Kyle Clifford, who had replaced Penner on the second line, will move back to a more familiar role on the fourth line. Helene Elliott of the LA Times is reporting that the odd man out at this point will be forward Dwight King, who will be a healthy scratch in Anaheim on Saturday. Sutter is the type of coach who will reward players for hard work and production on the ice, but isn't afraid to sit guys who aren't producing, and although King played well during his rookie campaign last season, he hasn't made much of an impact yet in 2013.
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