Dustin Penner is a stud!
When Oilers GM, Steve Tambellini, espoused the Oilers new mantra of “build from within,” I am quite certain that he had no idea that this would include building a first-line left wing sniper. As for the title of my recent blog post, I used the ellipsis to illustrate a point. Last year, for example, we can guess what other endings that sentence would likely have had if we referenced any one of the popular hockey forums. In contrast, with Dustin Penner’s resurgence, this year hockey forums are extolling the virtues of our new found star. Already, there’s rumblings at least of Dustin Penner getting consideration for Team Canada’s Olympic hockey team–which says a lot given that his name would have never came up last year.
First, I would like to express my condolences to Dustin Penner as he’s recently lost his grandfather over the past four days as reported by Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal. His late grandfather, Isaac Penner, was a farmer from Winkler Mannitoba who passed away at the age of 84. My own late maternal grandfather too was an honest, hard-working farmer who raised a similarly large family albeit in Saskatchewan.
Shawn Horcoff himself was recently quoted as saying, ” Pens and Hemmer are playing at such a high level, they’re outstanding… We haven’t seen a level like Pens is bringing, where he’s controlling the play. That creates so much open space and gives me more time in the middle.”
Let’s take a look at Dustin Penner’s point production while playing in the NHL:
- 2005-6: GP: 19, G:4, A:3, P:7, +/-: 3, S%: 8.7%, PPG: .37
- 2006-7: GP: 82, G:29, A:16, P:45, +/-: -2, S%: 14.2%, PPG: .55
- 2007-8: GP: 82, G:23, A:24, P:47, +/-: -12, S%: 11.4%, PPG: .57
- 2008-9: GP: 78, G:17, A:20, P:37, +/-: 7, S%: 12.4%, PPG: .47
- 2009-10: GP: 13, G:9, A:10, P:19, +/-: 9, S%: 23.7%, PPG: 1.4
Now it’s still early in the season, but you can see that so far Penner’s taken a quantum leap in terms of his point per game (PPG) pace. Of note, Penner’s current shooting percentage(S%), 23.7%, is short of being double his career average (13.1%) which does suggest that he’s got a hot stick right now. Though Penner’s having an excellent season at this point, he hasn’t entirely came out of nowhere in terms of his quality of play. Over the past several months, the Copper & Blue Oilers blog had written a series entitled, “An Amicus in Brief in Support of Dustin Penner.” As well, with Timo Seppa’s work on the even-strength total rating (ESTR), Dustin Penner was the highest ranked player on the Oilers by this metric.
2009 Advanced Stats and Dustin Penner
- PDO number (the sum of the goalie save percentage and shooting percentage while a player is on the ice). Dustin Penner’s PDO number of 1065 currently leads the team in front of Ladislav Smid and Lubomir Visnovsky.
- Penner’s relative Corsi number is 2nd on the team at 15.8 behind Ales Hemsky (excluding Steve MacIntyre). Already, Steve MacIntrye’s been dubbed an honorary member of the Corsi brigade by David Staples. His high relative Corsi number is more a reflection of the very small amount of minutes that he’s played.
- Even strength – Penner again leads the team with the best goals for – goals against differential of 9. Further, he leads the Oilers and league with 4.86 points/60. Additionally, at 5v5, Penner leads the Oilers with a goals for on per 60 minutes of 5.60
- Zonestart – Despite Dustin Penner’s excellent offensive stats this season, it’s in spite of the fact that he has the fourth lowest percentage of offensive/defensive zone starts on the team. He’s started 41.4% of the time in the offensive zone.
- Penalty Kill – Penner leads the team (among players who have played over a minute time on ice/60 minutes of penalty kill time with a goals against on number of 4.01.
- Powerplay – Penner is currently third on the team in points/60 on the powerplay behind Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky with 7.90 pts/60. (excluding players who’ve had less than a minute time on ice/60).
- Faceoffs – As a winger, Penner is only 7th on the team in terms of the number of faceoffs that he’s taken (31). However, he leads the team by a wide margin with a faceoff percentage of 64.5%.
- Penalties – Unlike the other measures, Penner is ranked near the bottom of the team in penalty minutes with only 2 minutes in the box this year (tied for 18th on team).
- Hits – Penner is currently 8th on the team with 9 hits.
To some extent it’s perhaps ironic that the posters over at the Oilers message board created a thread over the summer that extended beyond what seemed like 100 pages entitled, “Dustin Penner – I pray for more aggression.” Considering that Penner’s had only 2 penalty minutes and a respectable number of hits, it doesn’t seem like we’ve seen a remarkable change in terms of his aggressive play. Again, showing that you can’t always get what you want, and if you try sometimes, you get what you need. However, what we’ve got so far instead, has been far more important. It’s obviously too early in the season to ever expect that Penner will finish with the 56 goals or 63 assists that he’s currently on pace for. Yet, the numbers as well as observation is showing us that so far Penner is currently the most complete player on our team. In terms of offense, there’s no question that Penner himself is now actually driving the bus whether at even-strength or on the power play. Defensively, he’s also been a force particularly on the penalty kill. Hell, the guy’s even winning faceoffs for us. According to a recent article in the Cult of Hockey, Penner attributes his hockey sense and confidence to his play this year.
With all of the recent media attention that Dustin Penner has been getting, it’s starting to feel like we’re actually getting to know him better too. From his dead-pan delivery of jokes to his movie references, Penner’s providing some memorable and enjoyable quotes. Heck, about the only thing that I can actually blame or fault Penner for right now is that I’ve got the song, “Afteroon delight” stuck in my head.
Penner recently observed:
“It’s a lot more fun here now than it was before, when it was, ‘Penner is a bum.’ Now it’s, ‘I knew you could do it, I never said a bad thing about you.'”