No joke: Dustin Penner’s been a force for Kings

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Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Penner’s had a strange ride since being traded from the Edmonton Oilers during the 2011 deadline.* The beefy winger has already gotten some nice attention for joining Twitter on Sunday, particularly for his self-deprecating humor (he lists IHOP as his home page), yet he hasn’t received a ton of praise for his work on the ice in some time.

Well, unless you look at the postseason, that is.

While I’m sure Darryl Sutter could poke holes in his work – and maybe statheads have some reasonable formulas that show that he’s been lucky more than anything else – there’s a noticeable jump in Penner’s step lately. Sure, there were dumb-luck moments like his hilarious empty-netter from Game 1 against the Blues, but he’s also using his big body to open up space and create chances.

Penner’s been especially effective in the first two games against St. Louis. He had two assists tonight to go with that wacky empty-netter and a helper in Game 1. That’s four out of his six postseason points in those two evenings, but it’s more than just that.

Physical presence

From taking a thunderous hit from T.J. Oshie that generated quite a skirmish (including some knuckle sandwiches exchanged between Oshie and Mike Richards) to other rougher bits, Penner was very much in the thick of things.

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Before the playoffs, many would say he was just thick.

It’s tough to overlook the fact that Penner’s conveniently turning into the guy the Kings traded for during the playoffs in a contract year, but take heart Kings fans: the last time he played for a contract, his team (the Ducks) raised the Stanley Cup.

* – One could argue he’s had a strange ride since winning a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks, really.