Dancing in the Reign: The Penner Effect – Watching Wayne
Much attention will be directed toward the new-look first line tonight as Dustin Penner makes his debut in a Los Angeles Kings uniform. Rather than leveraging on the personal expectations that have followed Penner to Southern California, monitoring the effect he has on his new linemates is just as important. Anze Kopitar will maintain his role centering the group, with Wayne Simmonds filling the right-wing slot. This is where Penner’s effect catches my attention. Immediately weighing on personal performance, even for a player of Penner’s stature, must hinge on patience. His addition has already had a notable effect on the roster, with Dustin Brown moving to the third-line. Labeling this a demotion would be ludicrous, Brown is now expendable to fill a role that attributes more to his style. Wayne Simmonds now becomes the first-line’s dark horse, an excellent opportunity to re-establish himself as a primary component to this offense. Simmonds’ career in Los Angeles has set the precedent for the potential the organization drafted him for, continuing that development is key. For Simmonds, tonight provides resurgence to his growth within the organization.
Like most of the forwards on the roster, Wayne Simmonds has yet to stabilize himself with a consistent line. This has just as much to do with Terry Murray’s knack for roster shuffling as it does Simmonds’ performance. Tonight could initiate Simmond’s immunity from Murray’s carousel. Working alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner frees Simmonds to concentrate on his strengths, simplifying his game. He’s a consistent factor on both ends of the ice, steadfast on the forecheck and backcheck. He’s got scoring ability, speed, and a physical presence. To best utilize his capabilities, Simmonds needs guidance. The appropriate foundation has arrived to allow him to properly facilitate his skill. Pressure is now alleviated for Simmonds to force plays, now he fills a support role. And when you provide the support role to a player with Simmonds’ attributes, you’re opening greater possibilities. Simmonds enters the night hot, riding a three game point-streak recording three goals and an assist.
Wayne Simmonds, Los Angeles Kings, Away Primary – Michael Zampelli
Wayne Simmonds and Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Home Primary – Associated Press