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).
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.