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Penner's First Practice with Kings

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“We’re not asking him to be the savior of the franchise,” Kings head coach Terry Murray told reporters today after morning practice at the Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo, Calif.

Of course by “him” Murray is referring to the 28-year old, 6-foot-4 240 pound left winger Dustin Penner whom the Kings acquired on Monday before the trade deadline from the Edmonton Oilers for minor-league defenseman Colton Teubert, a first-round draft pick in 2011 draft and a conditional third-round draft pick in 2012.

But as Murray opened his comments this morning regarding Penner’s arrival to Los Angeles, “All good thoughts.”

For the Kings home game Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyote, Penner will be playing on the first line alongside Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds.

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“He’s in the prime of his career, in my opinion, at [28] years old with a lot of hockey ahead of him,” Murray said about putting Penner in that first line. “I just want to see him keep pushing it up, keep becoming a good player and be a good player for the Los Angeles Kings.”

Penner himself is happy to be back in Southern California.

“It was exciting for me to get here and be a part of a playoff drive,” Penner said. “Everybody has welcomed me with open arms. It’s been a great first day of practice - just trying to figure out the system.”

As for the differences of being out of the playoff hunt to now being thrust right in the middle of it: “When you get to the rink there is still some joking around, but when the puck drops it’s down to business as far as when the drills start. It’s a high-intensity practice.”

Penner broke into the NHL with the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 2005-’06 season when he recorded seven points (4-3=7) and 14 penalty minutes in 19 games played. In the next season playing full time with the newly minted Anaheim Ducks, he had 45 points (29-16=45) and helped lead the Ducks to the first Southern California Stanley Cup Championship.

Signing an offer sheet with the Edmonton Oilers after that Stanley Cup season, he notched 186 points (93-93=186) in 304 games with the Oilers.

The Kings hope to be able to use his size and hands in front of the net in both 5-on-5 and power-play situations.

“He’s a big body who can skate,” Jarret Stoll remarked. “He’s got great hands. I’ve seen him score some real nice goals in tight when you don’t think anything can come of it. He makes something of it.”

Quick Blues

Murray also noted that while he wasn’t going to be making many changes in the line combinations, he will have goalie Jonathan Bernier start in Thursday’s game against the Coyote. Jonathan Quick was shelled for six goals in the Kings 7-4 loss against the Detroit Red Wings Monday night at STAPLES Center. Quick saw only 24 shots before being pulled in for the final 15 minutes of the game.

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“It has everything to do with the last game,” Murray remarked about his decision. “That’s how I make my decisions.”

As bad of a shelling as that game was, Murray gave the players the day off yesterday. After coming off a grueling 10-game road trip where they went 6-1-3, Murray thought the mental and physical fatigue of the roadie really wore on the players.

“The month of February was a very demanding time for us,” Murray said. “That’s why I gave the day off.

“We gave a huge push - it was a tremendous month. A lot of big games in tough buildings, put some points on the board. We needed the day away - just to not have to put the equipment on was a good thing. I saw good energy today, focus. That’s what I wanted, and we’ll get ready for the game tomorrow.”