Last season was a rollercoaster for Dustin Penner. It had some extreme lows before culminating in an extreme high as the Los Angeles Kings captured their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.
It would have been tough for the Kings to do that without Penner.
The early part of the season was one filled with inconsistency and injury-by-pancake. He was a laughingstock at one point. But he turned it around in the latter part of the year, even if it didn’t show up on the stat sheet on a nightly basis. Regardless of what the numbers showed, Penner was effective.
Penner finished with just 17 points on the season. In the postseason, he had 11. He was actually a force for the Kings. He created great pressure on the forecheck and stepped up in the big moments, including a pair of game-winning goals. That strong finish earned Penner a new one-year contract this past summer.
But the 2013 campaign has gotten off to a similar start as we saw for several months during 2011-2012. Penner has been a ghost on the ice, when he’s actually on it. He’s played in just two games for the Kings this season, while serving as a healthy scratch for the other ones.
While Penner sits in the press box, the likes of Kyle Clifford is proving impressive in the top six for the Kings, which could be major trouble for Penner.
Even after his strong finish last year, Penner needs to step his game up. He’s a free agent again this summer and will have a tough time earning a contract. Penner is too talented to be spending every night in the press box. He needs to find his game and quick. We all know the Kings could use the help on offense.