Who was leading the pack this morning, during the latter part of a conditioning skate? Dustin Penner. That’s notable, given that Kings coaches and management made Penner’s fitness a public issue at the end of last season. Penner reportedly dropped more than 15 pounds during the summer and said he added muscle as well, and he will get a high-profile chance to prove himself, in a contract year, playing alongside center Anze Kopitar and right winger Justin Williams on the Kings’ first line. Kopitar and Penner had some success together, after Penner arrived via trade from Edmonton and before Kopitar suffered his season-ending leg injury. After practice today, Kopitar talked about his new-look lineman.
KOPITAR: “He’s really quick. Even last year, he was really quick. His first couple strides, for a big man like him, they’re unbelievable, really fast. I guess he just needed a little more endurance, to make it last a little longer, and it seems like he’s got it now. Hopefully it will show on the ice and hopefully we can get it going, just like we did when we got put together last year. It’s exciting, obviously. I can’t wait to play our first game. It will be fun.”
Question: There would seem to be some potential there, especially with his big body in front of the net…
KOPITAR: “That’s the thing. He’s so big and strong and he’s got a heavy shot. If me and Willy can set him up a few times, I’m sure his confidence is going to get up and he will start making plays too. We played good last year. We scored some goals and we had some really good games. If we can get it going right off the bat, that would obviously help, and we want to do it.”