• The easiest way to exceed expectations? Lower them.

    by  • November 16, 2009 • Uncategorized • 51 Comments

    If you haven’t read it, David Staples had an excellent interview with Pennerite Derek Zona a few weeks back. It’s worth reading. I thought that the following passage was particularly interesting:

    I don’t think there is a single reason as to why [the fans being down on Penner] was happening. There are those that believed in and still believe in MacTavish as a coach during the ‘08-09 season. The prevailing wisdom from those folks is that MacTavish wasn’t having a down year, Penner just wasn’t performing for him. Given the state of MacTavish’s relationship with Penner, anyone that had thrown in with the coach was going to have trouble seeing beyond what the coach was saying.

    Is this barrage of counting numbers sustainable? No. He’s got a completely unsustainable shooting percentage of 24%, so his goal scoring rate will tail off. Even though his percentage is going to come down, he’s shooting more this year than he ever has before, so
    he’s still going to get his goals.

    One of the things that I’m finding as a statsish Oilers blogger is that there’s not quite the low hanging fruit there once was – whenever I think to look at something, I frequently find that someone has already done it better than I would have. Probably for the best.

    I thought I’d take a quick peak at Penner’s numbers though. As I said, I’ve missed a lot of the games this year what with work and travel, so I’m particularly dependent on the numbers. Penner’s are pretty interesting (these are through the game with Atlanta).

    Penner

    There’s a fair amount going on here. The first set of numbers is Penner’s actual numbers for the first four years. The second set is his cumulative set of numbers – both including and excluding the hot start. You’ll note that the impact on his four year numbers as a whole is pretty minimal. Finally, I’ve run some projections based on him playing 80 games and scoring at his historic rates. I come up with him scoring about 33 goals, assuming he regresses to his historic norms.

    Penner’s earned a tremendous amount of praise for his play, and his numbers certainly seem to be up from last year, when I strongly suspect he was phoning it in. His increased shot totals, which Zona cited, are based largely on getting a few extra shots on the PP though. In terms of his rate stats, this seems to be largely a shooting percentage thing.

    Having not seen the games, I can’t comment on whether Penner looks to be playing better this year. He certainly seems to be getting a lot of praise. Numberswise though, I don’t know that he looks that much better than his historic norm. Shooting percentage, a few extra shots on the PP and some extra ice time are not, in my opinion, something particularly great to hang your hat on.

    About

    51 Responses to The easiest way to exceed expectations? Lower them.

    1. November 17, 2009 at

      As someone who watches without much regard for the numbers, I will say that Penner carries the puck better, kills penalties better, and is more active for the full duration of his shift than he was last year.

      Whether this is more productive or not is for someone else to calculate.

      I am here to tell you that he is 100% more entertaining to watch than last year, and I am happy about that.

    2. Quain
      November 17, 2009 at

      I’d say Penner looks a little more willing to drive the bus and make something happen on his own, but honestly, I had no idea his rates were flat so the takeaway here is that ‘if everyone is hassling you for your effort level, knock a guy over every couple of games and you’re set.’

      That and if you drag ass enough that your coach calls you out, as soon as that coach gets fired (primarily because you dragged enough ass) you can return to normal production and that coach looks like an asshole. Dustin Penner really is smart!

    3. November 17, 2009 at

      Lowered expectations?? Au contraire, Tyler, I (continue to) have high expectations for Penner, and as he matures he’s living up to them. He already had excellent underlying numbers last year, but this year has really bumped up the boxcars with a team-leading 23 points. That’s more than half of his career high in the first quarter. It’s also 5 more than Ales Hemsky, and as many as the 3rd and 4th ranked Oilers combined.

      How do you square this production with “lowering expectations”?

    4. November 17, 2009 at

      You’ll note that the impact on his four year numbers as a whole is pretty minimal.

      Of course. You’re talking about 20 GP against 240. His hot start is

    5. November 17, 2009 at

      Goddamn this interface. His hot start in 2009-10 is less than 8% of the body of work under review.

    6. RiversQ
      November 17, 2009 at

      Well, I’m pretty sure Penner is skating better than in past years. I chalked that up to him showing up to camp in shape for once, but I could be wrong. So yes, I’m on board with the notion that he’s been mailing it in for the first half of his contract.

      Still that was a good find on the shooting rates – it takes some shine off the redemption storyline, which is probably a good thing. I’m sort of shocked he’s has ESS/hr rates better than this, but of course the opposition he faced in Ana pales in comparison to what he sees now. Even though Quinn just sets it and forgets it when it comes to the lines, the opposition still pays attention and as long as he plays with at least one of Hemsky and Horcoff that’s a slam dunk for the top D pairing and probably the oppositions best forward line too.

      The flipside to the shooting rates is that Penner sure seems to be a player with a fairly reproducibly high SH% – probably because he takes most of his shots within 10ft. If he stays near his previous high ESS/hr, he’ll probably score a lot of goals.

    7. mc79hockey
      November 17, 2009 at

      RQ – I’m pretty convinced that the shooting numbers in ANA are soft – those guys record too many shots.

      Oddly enough, he’s not putting up good QualComp, although I haven’t seen enough this year to know whether that’s legit. I believe he’s going to be a higher shooting percentage player over time, although this high seems a bit much.

      Bruce – if he showed up in camp looking trimmer than Terry Jones, there was going to be favourable stuff written about him. While Derek has made a good case that he was a good player last year, the expectations for this guy amongst the masses were not high. It looks like he’ll trump them – we should have a pool on when Lowe, like Peter Puck with the Gretzky deal, talks about how the Edmonton fans supported him. Then we should kill him.

    8. RiversQ
      November 17, 2009 at

      Well, I was at the Bruins game (I really shouldn’t admit that – tremendous waste of time and money) and Julien ran Chara at that line all game. He tried to use Bergeron’s line too, so that’s the toughest comp the depleted Bruins have to offer. I think that jives with most of the other games too, so I’m pretty sure Penner’s seeing much stronger competition than the 3rd/4th line on a strong Anaheim team in 06/07.

    9. RiversQ
      November 17, 2009 at

      BTW, this whole “Hemsky and Horcoff put up more points with Penner than without him” is getting a little bit much.

      The dropoff after Penner on LW for this club has been precipitous since Torres left, and furthermore 83 and 10 got no favours from MacT (or their shitty teammates) when it comes to starting their shifts in the right end of the ice. On top of that, the competition definitely followed 10/83 to compound things.

      When I look at Penner’s Oiler career, he started with borderline underlying numbers in 07/08 and brought them up last year. This year he seems to be continuing that solid play, but I think it was fair to question the guy last year given the issues he had and the fact that he never had a full season of quality play.

      The other thing that drives me crazy about the MacT character assassination regarding Penner, is that he’s not the first NHL coach to have a problem with Penner’s effort level. Dig up some Carlyle quotes and go to town. Going into this season, Penner was 0 for 2 with NHL coaches and basically if he couldn’t get it done for Pat Quinn he was headed for real trouble.

      Penner deserves credit for what he’s done so far this year especially given the aborted trade. The percentages may be glossing over things a fair bit, but he’s still playing some very good hockey.

    10. November 17, 2009 at

      Interesting thing from that Bruins game was that when Quinn finally split up Penner and Hemsky to get one of them away from Chara, Julien kept the big man in a hard match against Penner and let his second pair cope with Hemsky. That spoke volumes.

      While Derek has made a good case that he was a good player last year, the expectations for this guy amongst the masses were not high.

      Derek wasn’t the only one — http://www.coppernblue.com/2008/12/pensky.html — although we Penner boosters were a pretty small minority. I was surprised more of the math guys weren’t a little more positive about Penner given those underlying numbers, but much less surprised that Terry Jones and his ilk were inciting the masses. The guy is as unprofessional as they come.

    11. mc79hockey
      November 17, 2009 at

      I was surprised more of the math guys weren’t a little more positive about Penner given those underlying numbers

      Not to speak for the math guys generally but a) I can understand that the coach was trying to get more out of the guy, given that the Oilers need some outperforming contracts and b) the guy was half assing it for a lot of the year. The math might say he was a contributor but it still galls me to watch it.

    12. Hawerchuk
      November 17, 2009 at

      “One of the things that I’m finding as a statsish Oilers blogger is that there’s not quite the low hanging fruit there once was – whenever I think to look at something, I frequently find that someone has already done it better than I would have.”

      Time to start covering the Leafs. They use a sundial instead of a time clock and still bring in the “cooler” if the other team looks like they might score.

    13. RiversQ
      November 17, 2009 at

      Interesting thing from that Bruins game was that when Quinn finally split up Penner and Hemsky to get one of them away from Chara, Julien kept the big man in a hard match against Penner and let his second pair cope with Hemsky. That spoke volumes.

      Volumes?

      Without looking at the shift chart, I couldn’t tell you how significant it really was. Just because it happened doesn’t necessarily mean Julien wanted that matchup.

      It should be noted that this happened for one shift after about 50min of hockey had elapsed. Quinn is frustrating.

    14. David Staples
      November 17, 2009 at

      I agree that Penner isn’t that much of a changed player.

      He was good before, he’s really good now (faster, more confident, luckier).

      His defensive play, which really drives his strong plus/minus in so many categories (shots, Corsi, traditional plus/minus, individual plus/minus), has always been vastly under-rated and over-looked, I would argue.

      Few are better along the boards, and he’s a smart guy who holds his position and picks up the right man in his own end.

      He is a far superior defensive player to other wingers on the Oilers who face tough competition, such as Hemsky and Moreau.

      Any dramatic change in his play has been over-rated by the crowd who dumped on him or under-appreciated him last year.

      He’s a classic player that advanced stats picks up on, a guy who doesn’t look good, because he lumbers at times, but is effective.

      He’s like the fat catcher in baseball who walks a lot and hits for extra bases.

    15. November 17, 2009 at

      I like Penner. Not as much as Derek, but I do like him.

      As for MacT vs. Penner, I didn’t have an issue with MacT’s disdain for Penner. What I hated was watching him put Erik Cole on the top PP unit right off the bat despite the fact his results were historically not that good while Penner’s PP results were the one thing in his favour from 07-08.

      Quinn seems to really dislike Comrie. But he still runs him out on the power play. And at a timje where Craig MacTavish acknowledges that some of the blame was his for Penner’s results last season, it seems silly to me not to give him his share. Not to say Penner was a perfect player last year, either; the truth lies somewhere in between.

    16. Quain
      November 17, 2009 at

      In fairness, I think Cole got the first swing because he was the new top line LW for a bit there. MacT always had a love of not breaking up lines when it came to rolling out PP units.

      Also, your comparison to Quinn seems to imply that MacTavish stopped using Penner on the powerplay. I’m not sure there were many games that Penner didn’t get a sniff on the PP, he was just put into a second unit role and lost a minute or so per game… exactly like Mike Comrie.

    17. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      At the risk of sounding contrarian for the sake of it … in terms of Penner love: I was in the 95th percentile of Oiler fandom last season, and I’m in the 5th percentile this season. I think Oiler fandom is madass.

      He was poor defensively last season, he is poor defensively this season. He was mediocre in transition last season, he is mediocre in transition last season. He was very good at keeping the puck deep last year, he is very good at keeping the puck deep this year.

      If you’ve only got one trick, “keeping the puck deep” is a good one. Because unlike football or baseball, defensive and offensive results canot be separated by a sensible person. The puck has to be somewhere, after all. If we learned nothing else for LeGG, we learned that. (Granted Georges was on the ice for precious few own-zone draws under MacTavish’s rule).

    18. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      Scott claimed stake to the voice of reason on Penner with this post “http://gospelofhockey.blogspot.com/2009/10/oilers-chances-games-1-to-10.html”
      in October.


      As for the forwards I thought I’d start by looking at Dustin Penner. Through ten games last year Penner’s chance percentage was 50.9%. This year he’s sitting at 49.4% yet last year’s start was horrendous and this year’s start is fantastic. And I don’t mean that sarcastically. So what has changed? Well, he’s scoring a lot more for one (largely percentages but he’s also taking more shots) and he’s in a really positive environment as well. Everyone from the coaches to the media to the fans are now on his side and it’s changing what people notice. Tonight for instance, Penner had the play die with him when, after some extended pressure in the Calgary zone, he attempted a pass to one of the defencemen that was well off the mark and resulted in the puck going down into the Oilers zone. Last year that would have been a story, this year, not so much.

      Another thing that may have changed how people perceive his performance is the play of the other money forwards. On a relative basis Penner has looked completely dominant. Hemsky and Horcoff have really struggled so far this year, picking up right where they left off last year. For the Oilers to be effective these two need to be able to play against the best the opposition has to offer and come up no worse than even. They’re not doing it yet and the Oilers are winning on percentages. As much as I know the percentages will turn I also think Horc and Hemsky will turn their games around and think that it’s possible that those two things balance out.

      The bits in italic are Scott’s writing. My personal plagiarism consultant (Jason Gregor) assured me that I could claim these words as my own, but I decided to be magnanimous. Scott owes me one.

    19. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      Also, everyone should tack on a “Q” to the end of their internet pseudonym.

      Nobody in their right mind reads all of the Oilogosphere commentary. Google searches for ‘RiversQ + Hockey OR NHL OR Oilers’ work great. If your handle is Dennis, Tyler, Quain, jonathon, etc … until you tack a “Q” on the end of that nick, I’ll never find you. The same for dozens like me I’m sure.

      Anyhow, RiversQ makes a terrific point in a debate with Zona somewhere on the web. We are only ever measuring performance relative to their peers at the same position.

      We all need to be reminded of this now and then, certainly I do.

      Just like we need to know the nuts and bolts of Desjardins’ QualComp (array of H2H icetime x on-ice/off-ice plus-minus array, which has one dimension). It’s nothing more or less than that, three to six lines of code, depending on the language. But if you don’t understand that simple reasoning, well you’re off to the races with linear regressions and no amount of common sense can save you. You will officially be ASAS (As Stupid As Staples).

      This refers to the office consumable, of course, and NOT to hockey luminary David Staples. That should be obvious, but not everyone reading here knows that personal attacks just aren’t my style, so I thought I’d be clear.

    20. November 17, 2009 at

      Vic, you slay me.

      Glad to have you and Rivers about though, picking at the corpse, its entertaining and enlightening.

      Count me among the ‘seeing him good’ crowd though. Derek put together a nice case for 27 last year but he was a dog, no doubt about it. Dennis will remember I am sure the time Alex Steen pushed him over and took the puck off of him.

      He was lazy and out of shape and not committed.

      Numbers or no numbers.

      This year he is moving his feet and he is more aggressive and he’s more confident, I think. So while his shooting % is high and he’s getting more icetime and you can say that’s the rub, I would have to say that he is playing better, plain and simple.

      Just as Ty said regardless of the numbers last year you could see him dogging it, the fucker (Penner not Ty), this year I have been very impressed with his play, regardless of the numbers. He looks engaged.

      And most of it is probably because he is fit and interested.

      Finally.

    21. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      RiversQ:

      Sharp eye with the B’s game, an odd one because there were no penalties until early in the second period, here is Quinn’s pattern up until the first penalty of the game:

      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3
      END OF PERIOD
      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3
      PENALTY — skip through that (presumably Cogliano and Moreau get killed by the B’s second unit, but I haven’t checked with Dennis’ scoring chances) … back to 5v5…
      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3-4
      1-2-3
      1-2-3-4

      .

      That last 1-2-3, the one caused by neither the end of period or penalty call … that effs up Julien/Ramsay/Ward … who are sharp cats.

      In fairness to them it must be like tapping your finger to a metronome … every once on a while the beat just doesn’t come, but you still tap your finger.

      Ludzik says that coaching against Quinn was unique that way, no other coach like him still in the game. He said you just found a rythym, he compared it to dancing iirc.

      This isn’t the madass speed chess matches between MacTavish and Carlyle ( or Hitch or Q or Crawford or Wilson or Tippet or etc, etc). Those games we need the shift charts. Off ice spotters being effed up by guys standing up like they were next … then suddenly sitting down and other guys going on. Running one dimensional guys vs tired legs, balancing Trotz’s bone for getting Arnott’s line vs the kid line by picking your zone or moving them out with flow. On and on.

      You’d see stuff going on that was too quick to follow (in fairness to us, these guys had about 100 man hours of game tape review in their pocket … and plan As, Bs, Cs etc for whatever unfolded. Curious minds spent ages decyphering it all after the game.

      They can play chess all they want, Pat prefers checkers, bless him. Quinn, that cat just rolls ‘em. The kids who play video games, as well as the kids who program them, they must love Pat. He makes their world round.

      Love Quinn’s honesty, though. He’s as honest as he can be, I think. That’s one big mick as well, the size of the hands and kness on that guy … damn. He must have been frightening in his day.

    22. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      Pat, you know I love you. I think you’re a bit into the ether though. Dustin is still Dustin.

      That’s why I asked Dennis to track when Comrie played games at LW, because as RQ reminded us, that’s what we are talking about. Smart money says that Dustin’s numbers (by Zona’s measures) take a crap when Comrie is playing LW, and wee Mikey’s numbers take a commensurate bump.

      Just the way it is. Time will tell, but what with the world being rounf and all … if you must wager, bet on me here, Pat.

      Remember when Smyth broke his ankle that year. I love the guy, hell the whole reason I bothered to make a shift chart reader in the first place was because I could only convince a few folks that coaches ran benches with a sense of purpose, and absolutely nobody (not even Dennis or RiversQ) that Smyth was playing really tough comp.

      But Lowe brought back Smyth to the lineup way too early that year. It was an Olympic year, I’m sure that played into it, but Smytty was just brutal when he came back.

      Bust out Zona’s math on that period (first four weeks after Smyth’s return) and you’ll be lead to believe that Hecht was the best LWer to ever wear copper and blue.

      Personally, I think that Smyth was just terrible then, and Moreau has never been any hell (Hecht with Marchant and Grier was dynamite, in their brief stretch together. All by memory though). So Hecht was great compared to them, and tht’s all we ever measure.

      One day maybe I’ll check that. I already know the answer, and I’ve nothing to prove, but maybe I’ll do it as a procrastination exercise one day.

      Or maybe I’ll go on an hiatus. I’m due. And hope left the station a couple of busses ago. If lady luck takes their side they could make the playoffs. If that happens I’ll be back then for sure.

    23. Dennis
      November 17, 2009 at

      I always thought 27 was a useful player but it was hard to see that through the spectrum of his salary.

    24. November 17, 2009 at

      I like Penner just fine as a defensive player. Strong on the boards, good positionally, makes Very few mistakes. Obviously that job becomes easier when the puck is being pinned in the other teams end, where Penner is also strong on the boards, good positionally, but makes a few more mistakes. Sure the play dies with him sometimes, it dies with Horcoff and Hemsky too. (Last night I counted at least 6 times the play died with Hemsky, and Quinn called it his best game of the year.) Handle the puck enough and try to make things happen and occasionally you get double teamed or your pass gets picked off or whatever.

      As for Penner getting pushed off the puck by Alex Steen, sorry, that is certainly a “seen him bad” moment. Steen got position on Penner and surprised him. Pat, are you and Dennis going to keep citing that One Play as evidence Penner was playing poorly? That’s anecdotal “evidence” at its finest.

      Chrissakes, I can find a hundred bad plays for every player if I look hard enough. Instead of harping on a single incident over and over and over — one which occurred over a calendar year ago now — how about providing a stat for puck battles won and lost. Over the long haul (including the last two seasons) I’d put big money on Penner having won well over 50% (but likely under 100% :) of those battles.

      RiversQ: Sorry you saw such a shitty game at the height of flu season. Quinn did wait far too long to split up 27-83 that frustrating afternoon, but as I recall it was 2 or 3 shifts at least in the dying minutes and Chara was on Penner all the way. 27 was the bigger threat in that game and has been most of the season to date. That said, Chara is the obvious choice to take on the bigger men while Julien had other options for dealing with Hemsky, so it probably didn’t speak “volumes” except about Julien’s coaching acumen. It was, however, a definite sign of respect IMO.

    25. November 17, 2009 at

      Dennis: It’s not the salary that gets me, and it never really was. It was spending three draft picks on a mis-sized bandaid when anyone with half a brain would have said ‘lets rebuild one more year’.

      Instead, Lowe gets a not-quite-playoff team, loses what would have been a lottery pick had I been in charge, and damages the team’s long-term future to do it.

    26. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      Bruce:

      I’e been wrong plenty. I will be wrong a lot more yet before I’m done talking with you guys.

      And it’s time to pack up your marbles and go home on the B’s game. The colour guy (DeBrusk?) made a big deal of it, but really there were two shifts where Quinn broke his regular pattern, fooled the Boston bench. One with all of 83-10-27 and one with 83-10.

      If Julien uses ‘montony’ as an excuse, I’ll accept it.

      Also, for every single shift I listed above, Julien (wo runs the forwards, not the D) had Bergeron’s line out against the Oil’s top unit. We both know that the fact that DeBrusk (assuming he was colour guy) was oblivious changes nothing but our perception at the time.

    27. November 17, 2009 at

      JW: It was more than just Penner. Lowe signed Souray and traded for Pitkanen that off-season. He also (unsuccessfully, thankfully) went after Vanek and Nylander. You can call them all band-aids if you like, but there’s no way he was playing for a lottery ticket with one disastrous season already in the bank.

    28. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      I don’t know why I feel compelled to correct just one spelling mistake of many, perhaps because I enclosed it in quotations.

      “montony” should read “monotony”. Under the cirsumstances, I would also have accepted “montony” as an excuse from Julien. The metronome does dull the senses, after all.

    29. November 17, 2009 at

      Vic: OK. I remember DeBrusk’s comment at the time, and watched Chara going head-to-head with Penner in the slot all game, but it’s anecdotal at best and no big deal. It seemed to me Chara had a better game than Horpensky combined on that particular afternoon.

      Would you agree that opposing coaches prepping for the Oilers are paying more attention to Penner than in the past? You’re the ice-time guru … are they doing anything different?

    30. November 17, 2009 at

      Bruce:

      Yeah, he went all out that summer. My point was that he should have been playing for a lottery ticket rather than trying to buy his way out of problems. He’s done it every summer (generally with tragic levels of difficulty) and it hasn’t helped this team.

    31. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      Bruce said:

      “Would you agree that opposing coaches prepping for the Oilers are paying more attention to Penner than in the past?”

      No I wouldn’t, I don’t think there has been a fig of difference. Just the way I’ve seen it, I may have missed this (like the way DeBrusck missed the forward matchup in beantown), but I haven’t seen anything like that happening on the ice. I have no intention of bothering to busting out data, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this, Bruce.

    32. November 17, 2009 at

      Aw Bruce, come on now. You’ve watched a lot of hockey over the years, far more than me, for sure. You know as well as I do that Penner last year and Penner this year are two different animals. Sure I pull out that Steen example because it was a piece of shit play by a guy who was a fat piece of shit player. You’re Mr. Toughness etc, every time you talk about guys you talk about their grit and stick to itiveness. Penner had none last year. He was a coach killer.

      True that Vic, the ether I mean. But really I’m not talking about the numbers here, honestly. I just think Penner is playing better. Maybe I’m sniffing the glue or its havign three kids has finally done me in or I’ve just bought the whole story arc but he looks better to me.

    33. November 17, 2009 at

      No I wouldn’t, I don’t think there has been a fig of difference.

      Thanks, Vic. I suppose it would be very hard to tell in the event of 27-83 playing together, the same guys line up against both. And they’ve mostly played together these past dozen games. So my question is premature perhaps. Something to watch for the next time Quinn plays divide and conquer.

      Pat: I would say Penner is playing a far more proactive game this year. Last year I was fairly happy with his cerebral game and I liked how he made whatever line he was on better but there were a few nights I wished he’d throw his weight around more, for sure. Quite a few. In fact that’s still true but much more infrequently. He kinda reminds me of Mike Krushelnyski, big and strong on the puck and faster than he looks and Much smarter than he looks but not much of a mean streak and the type who will forever leave many people wanting and expecting more. Even when he’s playing reasonably well. That was Dustin Penner last season.

    34. November 17, 2009 at

      Bruce: it has been awhile since I brought up that Steen play but I’m gonna stick with my man Pat here in any case:)

      In keeping with that theme, we can keep bringing up that play right up until the point you stop bringing up that bad line change by 78 that night vs Detriot.

      Agreed?:)

      Vic: I don’t remember you asking me to keep track of when 91 played LW though I’m sure I can do it from now on. It’s just these past few games that I’ve written down the lineups in the top of my notebook as to provide a bit more context.

    35. November 17, 2009 at

      Now that the debate has been derailed by a whole bunch, is the central argument now that Penner is simply getting lucky right now?

    36. November 17, 2009 at

      I don’t have a side in this argument, though I feel secure in stating that our perception of less quantifiable things, like (say) effort, tends to be coloured by results, and not just slightly.

      So I guess I agree with… Vic and Bruce?!?

    37. mc79hockey
      November 17, 2009 at

      Now that the debate has been derailed by a whole bunch, is the central argument now that Penner is simply getting lucky right now?

      I get confused – is coachpb Derek? It gets so complicated with all of these new people…

      I wouldn’t say he’s just getting lucky right now. I would say that the argument is that for someone who is being so widely praised as having picked up his game, it’s odd that the underlying numbers I looked at aren’t much off career norms.

      Of course, I’m willing to accept that he was phoning it in a bit last year as well.

    38. November 17, 2009 at

      Nono, I get what you’re saying Tyler. I’m confused by what the hell is being said by the rest of them.

    39. November 17, 2009 at

      So then is the answer that it doesn’t matter how hard you are working, how proactive you are, how fit you are if the results are the same?

      I’m not trying to be facetious here.

      I guess the question is, regardless of results, is he a better player than last year? Or is it all noise? He’s averaging a point per game, is he not? Or over? Last year he scored three goals by this point or something.

      I respect the opinions here. A ton. But I don’t know if I buy the argument.

      And normally I would. For sure.

    40. November 17, 2009 at

      Of course I guess the question is is it all shooting %? Maybe so.

      The other argument I would make is that he’s definitely facing tougher opp than when he was with the Ducks and that should count for something.

    41. Vic Ferrari
      November 17, 2009 at

      I know that I personally have spun off on tangents, esp re Quinn.

      If the question is:
      How much has Penner improved?

      Then the first point to clarify is:
      How good did you think he was last year?

      I think Penner looks a bit fitter this year, though that may be partly Quinn, Dustin isn’t being asked to jump back on the ice with 60 seconds rest to exploit an opportunity. I think he’s looked good on the PK as well, though he looked okay on the PK last year by my memory. I also think that more first unit PP time and terrific finish are skewing the optics more than LSD ever could.

      And I think that if, in a parallel universe, the games unfolded precisely as they have so far, except Dustin got a couple of bad bounces around the net (so didn’t get scoring chances then), got robbed by a couple of 5 bell saves, and hit a couple of posts instead of net. … well I think that:
      - Mark Spector would be busting out another “worst contract in the league” article.
      - Tyler would be linking to a Staples article that chided Zona while questioning the soundness of his reasoning.
      - 99% of callers to talk radio would be questioning Penner’s work ethic.

    42. November 17, 2009 at

      “So then is the answer that it doesn’t matter how hard you are working, how proactive you are, how fit you are if the results are the same?”

      Which of those are skewed by personal bias, results or perception?

    43. November 17, 2009 at

      So Derek, you basically believe that he’s the same guy, is that what you are saying? Same player?

    44. November 17, 2009 at

      “So Derek, you basically believe that he’s the same guy, is that what you are saying? Same player?”

      I think I said where I stand in that interview with David.

    45. November 17, 2009 at

      Both Penner’s goals and assists are way up. He’s already got 11 assists at the quarter pole, against a career high of just 24.

      Part of his increased production can be attributed to more ice time, up 4½ minutes from 2007-08 to nearly 20:00/G. Lately even more than that. But a chunk of that time is on the PK (increased almost 300% from 0:35 to 2:16/G), which, being the Oilers, doesn’t contribute to the points totals at all. His PP time is also up a bit, from 2:57 to 3:38, and he’s back on the first unit this year which should bump his PP numbers significantly. His shot rate has increased by a much greater margin than his ice time, from 1.75 S/G to just north of 3 to this point.

      As for percentages, Penner’s personal Sh% is up by 50%, from 12.4% to 18.8%. His 5v5 Sh% ON has increased by a similar margin, from 9.59% to 14.96%. That seems unsustainable, as does his PDO of 1.080, but by eye his bull-in-a-china-shop routine is creating some D-zone chaos for the bad guys, and it seems to me that ought to have a positive impact on percentages. Presumably they will fall back somewhat but I would anticipate they will remain well above average.

      As Rod would say, time will tell.

    46. November 17, 2009 at

      Yeah I don’t read Staples.

    47. November 17, 2009 at

      we can keep bringing up that play right up until the point you stop bringing up that bad line change by 78 that night vs Detriot.

      Dennis: I haven’t mentioned Pouliot’s bad line change against Detroit yet this season. I haven’t mentioned his bad line change against Montreal yet either. :)

      I’m actually kinda bummed he’s out, yet another great opportunity is passing him by, this time through no fault of his own. Seems like the guy is star-crossed.

    48. November 17, 2009 at

      Pat: The Staples/Zona interview in question is linked right up top of this article.

    49. mc79hockey
      November 17, 2009 at

      I’m actually kinda bummed he’s out, yet another great opportunity is passing him by, this time through no fault of his own. Seems like the guy is star-crossed.

      I wish I was star-crossed to the tune of about $2.5MM in lifetime earnings from hockey.

    50. November 17, 2009 at

      I know Bruce I’m just being cranky.

      Ty – you forgot to say so far.

      He’s not done yet.

      So Derek (yes I read the article) and Bruce both say that Penner is playing far better and Tyler says he was a dogfucker last year.

      I mean that’s the jist, right Ty? Plus its the truth.

      And he isn’t sucking wind after a thirty second twirl around the ice. So maybe he’s fit, finally.

      Which also means he basically shortchanged his employers the last two seasons by drinking beer all summer. Me too. Course I wasn’t getting paid 4.25 million a year to play hockey though.

      Anyways back to Pouliot. Anyone see the Toronto penalty shot game.

      Kid’s going to be a player. I was there. He’s something. ;)

    51. slipper
      November 19, 2009 at

      I haven’t been paying too much attention to the season so far, but for the games I have watched, if Pat was responsible for the players being thrown on the ice as the Oil’s PP expired then he’s a fucking idiot.

      There’s been a lot of wierd shit going on in the match-ups, defensive pairings and minutes.

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