Will this second-round playoff series end up swinging on the play of Dustin Penner? Penner had seven goals and 10 assists in 65 regular-season games, but in the first round against Vancouver, he scored the game-winning goal in Game 1, had an assist in Game 2 and, by Game 5, had moved into a second-line role alongside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. That’s where he will stay for the start of the series against St. Louis. Penner replaces Dwight King and brings the experience that the rookie King can’t offer, as Penner has played 45 career playoff games and won the Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007. Richards said the change from King to Penner won’t be a dramatic one.
RICHARDS: “No, I think Kinger and Penner are similar players. They’re both big, strong, steady wingers. Pens obviously has been here [the playoffs] before, so he has a little more experience playing against top lines. I know (Ken) Hitchcock likes to match up, and match lines, so I think it’s going to be a big challenge for us to match up against their top two.’’
Darryl Sutter said the swap was motivated by the experience factor.
SUTTER: “It’s not so much Dustin. It’s Kinger. You look at that (Vancouver) series, those two lines that matched up. It’s pretty much the centermen matching up. Sedin and Kesler. So it’s pretty easy to figure out who (the Blues’) top two guys are. So then, are you going to go with experience with (a linemate for) Richards and Carter, or are you going to a kid? That’s a big adjustment, quite honest.
“(Penner has) got to draw on that experience, really. He’s had a really tough year. So he’s got to draw on the experience that he had before, of winning, and that he can still be a really good contributor. We liked him in the last series, so we need him to have that again. You just try to put yourself in his shoes, and help him with it.’’