The 2011-12 regular season was a rough one for Penner. He continued to underachieve in a Kings sweater, got divorced, and famously injured himself while eating pancakes. On more than one occasion, he served as a healthy scratch for Los Angeles.
Then the postseason rolled around and things started clicking for Penner. He looked more like the player the Kings though they had acquired from the Edmonton Oilers and less like a guy playing himself into an early retirement.
Penner thrived in the top six down the playoff stretch for the Kings. He posted 11 points (17 the entire regular season) and added a couple of game-winning goals, including the one that sent the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals. His physical game was also an asset for the Kings.
His performance earned him a new contract this summer, signing a one-year deal to remain in Hollywood. If he turns in a solid effort this year, he has an opportunity to really cash in next summer.
It’s this season that is really a question for Dustin Penner. With such a small sample space of actual success, whether or not he’ll be able to replicate his postseason play is certainly a valid question heading into next season.
You have to think Dustin Penner can carry that success into next year. He finally seemed comfortable and confident down the stretch there and his play was just better all around. With a group like this Kings champion squad, all of which are returning, Penner can come back in just as comfortable as he looked during the postseason and should be able to play at a much higher level than we’ve seen from him the past couple of seasons.