An Amicus Brief In Support of Dustin Penner, Part III -- Microstats

Brief of The Copper & Blue as Amicus Ludus In Support of Dustin Penner for Playing on the First Line, Part III.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction
   2. Traditional Stats
   3. Power Play
   4. Microstats
   5. Conclusion
  

1.  Introduction
The Edmonton Oilers failed to make the playoffs for the third straight year in 2008-2009.  Craig MacTavish, an ineffective and overmatched coach for the entire season, unfairly used Dustin Penner as a scapegoat throughout the year.  Because MacTavish was outcoached by virtually the entire league, Penner was made to suffer, when in fact, he should have been on the first line for the entire season, playing with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.  Three seperate sets of statistics confirm the above argument.

  
4.  Microstats
Historically, hockey statistics have been based on the simple statistics found in box scores:  Goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, and beginning in the 1950's, Plus-Minus.  In recent years there has been a movement towards more granular statistics to bring game and player analysis to a new level, similar to the revolution that baseball experienced thirty years ago.  In this section, we examine those granular statistics as applied to Dustin Penner.

A.  Even Strength Play

Even strength play allows for a deeper look into a player's performance without the influence of cherry power play minutes or the much tougher penalty kill minutes.  In Dustin Penner's case, even strength production tells a compelling story, and that story is that Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff suffer greatly when not on the ice with Dustin Penner:

Ales Hemsky & Dustin Penner 2007-2008

Hemsky's production with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Hemsky w/o Penner: .700 GF/20 -- 224th in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2007-2008
Hemsky w/ Penner: 1.019 GF/20 -- 34th
in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2007-2008

Hemsky's +/- with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Hemsky w/o Penner: -0.08 +/- per 20 -- 202nd in +/-
Hemsky w/ Penner: 0.00 +/- per 20 -- 148th in +/-

Ales Hemsky & Dustin Penner 2008-2009

Hemsky's production with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Hemsky w/o Penner: .712 GF/20 -- 224th in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2008-2009
Hemsky w/ Penner: 1.244 GF/20 -- 10th
in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2008-2009

Hemsky's +/- with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Hemsky w/o Penner: -0.15 +/- per 20 -- 200th in +/- 
Hemsky w/ Penner: 0.508 +/- per 20 -- 14th in +/- 

Ales Hemsky without Dustin Penner scores, at even strength, at the same rate as Richard Park and Blake Comeau of the New York Islanders.  With Dustin Penner, Hemsky scores at a rate similar to Sidney Crosby.

Over each of the last two seasons there are only three forwards with a better even strength scoring rate than Ales Hemsky while Dustin Penner is on the ice.  Those men are Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin.

 

Shawn Horcoff & Dustin Penner 2007-2008

Horcoff's production with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Horcoff w/o Penner:  .842 GF/20 -- 135th in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2007-2008
Horcoff w/ Penner: 1.092 GF/20 -- 37th in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2007-2008

Horcoff's +/- with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Horcoff w/o Penner: -0.38 +/- per 20 -- 298th in +/-
Horcoff w/ Penner: 0.40 +/- per 20 -- 22nd in +/- 

Shawn Horcoff & Dustin Penner 2008-2009

Horcoff's production with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Horcoff w/o Penner: .834 GF/20 -- 151st in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2008-2009
Horcoff w/ Penner: 1.104 GF/20 -- 42nd in ES scoring for all qualifying forwards in the NHL in 2008-2009

Horcoff's +/- with and without Penner on the ice at Even Strength:

Horcoff w/o Penner: -0.15 +/- per 20 -- 143rd in +/-
Horcoff w/ Penner: 0.424 +/- per 20 -- 25th in +/-

Shawn Horcoff without Dustin Penner scores, at even strength, at the same rate as David Perron and Pascal Dupuis.  With Dustin Penner, Hemsky scores at a rate similar to Johan Franzen and Martin St. Louis.

Over each of the last two seasons there are only nine forwards with a better even strength scoring rate than Shawn Horcoff while Dustin Penner is on the ice.  Those men are Jason Arnott, Nicklas Backstrom, Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Ales Hemsky with Dustin Penner, Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, and Corey Perry.

 

Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky

In 2008-2009, the Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky line appeared in 39 games together (this does not mean that they played the entire game together).  During that time, the line scored 21 ES goals and gave up 5 ES goals.   For the rest of the season, when playing together on a line without Dustin Penner, Horcoff and Hemsky scored 14 ES goals and gave up 17 ES goals.

In those 39 games, the Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky outshot the opponent 174-110 (+64).  Without Dustin Penner, the Horcoff-Hemsky line was outshot 208-222 (-14). 

Corsi, a measure of territoriality, is total net value of all shots at net for and against while a player is on the ice at even strength.  Shots directed at the net includes blocks and misses.  Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky combined for a Corsi of +130.  Without Dustin Penner, the Horcoff-Hemsky line posted a Corsi of -23.

Shots

In 2008-2009, the Edmonton Oilers were outshot 1756-1991 (-235) at even strength.  While Dustin Penner was on the ice, the Oilers outshot their opponents 463-426 (+37).  The Oilers team Corsi was -359; Penner's Corsi was +93.  Penner led the Oilers in Corsi/mins played at +2.3 shots/20 mins.

Average shot distance can be used to determine where a player spends their time in the offensive zone.  Penner led the Oilers in shot distance, and was 22nd in the league by this metric.

 

Degree of Difficulty

Next, we can look at three stats, Zonestart, DefPct, Zoneend, and Zoneshift.  Put simply, Zonestart is defined as [Defensive Zone Faceoffs taken - Offensive Zone Faceoffs taken],  this number in an indicator in which end of the ice a player starts his shifts.  DefPct is the percentage of faceoffs the player took in the defensive end.  Zoneend is defined as [Shifts ending in the defensive zone - shirts ending in the offensive zone], which indicates where a player ends his shifts.  Zoneshift is [ZoneEnd - Zonestart ] and shows whether or not the player is driving the play or being pushed and held in his own end.  The NHL average for Defpct is 30%, meaning the average NHL player takes 30% of their faceoffs in the defensive zone.

In 2008-2009, the Oilers had two forwards take an abnormally high level of defensive zone faceoffs, Shawn Horcoff and Kyle Brodziak.  Besides those two players, Fernando Pisani and Ethan Moreau, noted for their defensive prowess also took nominally more defensive zone faceoffs than offensive zone faceoffs.  The rest of the Oilers regular forwards can be found in the chart below:

0809forwardszs_medium
 

Penner had a Zonestart of -39, meaning he started in the offensive zone 39 more times than the defensive zone, tied for last on the team.  However, of the forwards not considered defensive specialists, only Ales Hemsky had a higher percentage of defensive zone faceoffs.  What's most interesting is that of all of the forwards with a negative zone start (started in the offensive zone more than the defensive zone) only Dustin Penner has a positive zoneshift (+4), meaning he ended in the offensive zone 4 more times than he started.   He was holding the puck in the offensive end or driving it towards the offensive end when he was on the ice.

 

Scoring Chances

Below is a chart showing the regular forwards that took the ice for the Oilers during 2008-2009.  The chart indicates scoring chances while on the ice at even strength.  Included on the chart are even strength scoring chances for (EV+), even strength scoring chances against (EV-), and those chances broken out by even strength time on ice, in increments of 15 minutes.

Chancesper15_medium

When measuring chances for and chances against, Dustin Penner had the largest differential on the team, and clearly outpaces those with similar starting positions as noted above.  Note that Ales Kotalik, the late-season replacement, surrendered more than one extra scoring chance per 15 minutes than Penner.

The final chart shows scoring chances amongst the forwards that played regular power play shifts for the Oilers in 2008-2009. 

Ppchper4_medium

Penner leads the Edmonton Oilers in scoring chances for while on the ice for the power play, besting noted power play ace Ales Hemsky. 

 

A common phrase in hockey analysis is "Who drives the bus?", roughly translated to "Who is carrying the play?".  In the case of the Edmonton Oilers, the answer has been Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.  However, as demonstrated above, they tend to spin their wheels without Dustin Penner around.  Horcoff might drive the bus, but Dustin Penner is the vehicle that delivers results.

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