The good: From a statistical standpoint, Dustin Penner engineered his most productive stretch of regular season hockey as an L.A. King in 2012-13. Having averaged .42 points per game during the regular season, his production – surprise! – actually decreased during the playoff run. An absurdly low 3.3% shooting percentage during his 33-game regular season indicates that he wasn’t always on the right side of luck. His L.A. shooting percentages of 5.6%, 5.9% and 3.3% are statistical anomalies when compared to the 8.7% / 14.2% / 11.4% / 12.4% / 15.8% / 15.3% he posted in his first five and a half seasons in the NHL. He recorded assists in five straight games and a total of seven points (1-6=7) in eight games from February 23 to March 9. His puck pursuit and protection of the puck along the boards in the offensive zone meshed well with the Kings’ style, benefiting his linemates and leading to his surge in assists. He was honest, well respected by his teammates, intelligent and more often than not jovial, and even in periods in which his production dropped he maintained the outlook of the larger picture. He scored one of the most memorable goals in Kings history.
You look at even Dustin [Penner], when he was out for the whole week, and basically all he did was skate. Well, his first game back we go into Dallas, and the first half of the game for us – especially the first period – was power play. So your top guys are playing for the most part. So Dustin’s sitting on the end of the bench. So when it’s time for the Big Diesel to go, Big Diesel’s a little slow, right? And even last night when I talked to him about it – because of power plays early, and just the way we’re using Richie and Jeff right now, Penns and Kinger and the big bodies, it’s hard to get [going]. We call it up to speed – I tell the guys, ‘You’ve got to be up to speed.’ Everybody has different speeds. But you’ve got to be up to speed.
The bad: Well, let’s just get it out there. Dustin Penner is now a Duck. Good, great, grand, wonderful. Darryl Sutter was not always complimentary of Penner’s contributions. He scored twice in 33 games. Shooting percentage aside, that was a low number to justify a continued presence in the top two lines, and Penner occasionally dropped below his familiar spot alongside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter despite the Kings’ lack of depth on left wing. He recorded no goals and one assist in a total of 29:28 of power play time. Despite his size and frame, he didn’t consistently drive to the net with the voracity and consistency that Sutter was hoping for. He was prone to dings and minor injuries.
Going forward: So Penner is a Duck again, and it’s going to be fascinating to hear the response he receives at Staples Center this season. Though his time in Los Angeles was not marked by the same productivity that accompanied him in Anaheim and Edmonton, he clearly grew on Kings fans and through his playoff heroics in 2012 and his 2013 efforts, he appeared to be amongst the more popular players on the team from the fans’ perspective. It seemed that by the end of his L.A. tenure Kings fans were clearly rooting for Big Diesel to succeed. That loyalty will obviously be tested the first time he takes the ice at Staples Center opposite Corey Perry on a line centered by Ryan Getzlaf. A rivalry that has never been catalyzed by a playoff series, there will be an additional narrative – and perhaps some lively quotes from the opposing locker rooms – when the Kings and Ducks meet this year.
2013 Player Evaluations