Terry Murray indicated today that he doesn’t see wisdom in making wholesale line changes right now. At the same time, he indicated that he might look for a different look for Dustin Penner. Last night, Penner ran his streak to seven consecutive games without a point — he has one assist in 10 games this season — but did have three shots on goal while playing on the third line. Today, Murray was asked for his thoughts on Penner’s recent play, as well as his role.
MURRAY: “We talk about confidence, and I think there’s maybe a little bit lacking there on the puck-possession side of his game right now. I’d like to see him have the puck on his stick for longer periods of time, to get his speed going, carry the puck through the middle of the ice and challenge defensemen more. He’s got size and strength, and he can take the puck to the net. I’m starting to see better skating in the last few days, in the games and in the practice, so I’m hoping that that’s where he’s going to get to, with his game. The other part of it, with a player like Dustin, he’s a goal scorer. He’s got great hands. He’s got an incredible shot, and we need to find a way to get the puck to him at the right times, to be able to finish. So it’s a little bit of a combination of three or four things, right now, that’s off.’’
Question: Is it maybe harder to get that going when he’s playing a third-line role with fewer minutes?
MURRAY: “That’s a good point. I don’t look at it as a third line so much as that we have three lines that are capable of putting some numbers up. With more of the teams around the league in the last couple years, it seems to be going that way. That’s a change from what it was, post-lockout, right away. You had the two (scoring) lines and your third-line checking line. Even last year, with Handzus here, it was that kind of an identity. But we’re seeing it kind of evolve to that three-line offensive attitude now, getting your D more constantly involved in your attack, and then you have your other line that can play that checking-line, grit, hard, do the things that might wear down the defending team, their best pair, their top line. So, I’m going to take a look at it, though. I’ve thought about that. Is it a concern, a little bit? I really believe that Penner is a guy that needs to get the puck at the right place at the right time, and players like Kopi and Richards are certainly guys that can give it to him in those situations.’’