How many of you here in the Nation woke up today, looked at the point leaders in the league and did a double take? Dustin Penner on the first page… WTF?
No one and I mean no one; thought Dustin Penner would be the Oilers best, and most productive player seven games into the season. If you are still struggling getting a grasp on the NEW Penner, don’t fret you aren’t alone.
Penner’s nine points has him tied for 13th, and his five goals are top ten in the league. Not only is Penner scoring, he is killing penalties and is consistently moving his feet. Penner looks quicker, and while he is loathe to admit it, he’s in better shape.
It doesn’t hurt that Pat Quinn is his coach, and not Craig MacTavish, but I won’t lay all the blame on MacTavish for Penner’s underachieving last two seasons. Penner hasn’t been dedicated enough since signing his twenty-one million dollar deal, until this past summer.
Penner’s off-season conditioning program is paying off, but there’s more than just hard work happening here.
Penner was humiliated and embarrassed last season. Being the coach’s public whipping boy stung him, and I’m sure the Fat Penner references got to him. Penner is quick-witted, with a dry sense of humour, and likes to keep thing light-hearted, but it looks like he took all the pot shots to heart, and set out to prove people wrong.
Penner spent over a month of his summer working out and wondering if he’d be an Oiler or a Senator come September. Do you think that might have motivated him?
Regardless of what motivated him, Penner is living up to his contract so far this year.
First Mike Comrie comes back to Edmonton, and rather than hearing boos, he has his name chanted from the Rexall rowdies, and now Penner is winning over Oiler fans, who for the past two years would have traded him for a bag of pucks and 50 donairs.
Do you think it is possible that we hear chants of "Penn-er, Penn-er!" before the season is over?
If Comrie can win over the fans, why can’t Penner? Seven games won’t erase the memory of the past two seasons, but in sports “what have you done for me lately” reigns supreme, and it seems that many Oiler fans are teetering on the brink of becoming “Dusciples” of the “Pennecostal” church.
BRULE BUSTING OUT
While Penner continues to be the story in Oilerville, very quietly Gilbert Brule has gotten off to a great start. Four goals and seven points has the 6th overall pick in 2005 playing like a top ten pick.
Brule seems to have found the game that the Blue Jackets liked when they called his name four summers ago. He is hitting, using his speed to generate chances and most importantly he has re-discovered his offensive flair.
I said it all summer that Brule was better option than Marc Pouliot as the 4th line center, because Brule plays with the edge necessary to be part of an energy unit. I didn’t think he’d find is offensive game so quickly, in fact, I wasn’t sure if he’d ever find it again.
It is very early to suggest that Brule will come close to producing like this all season, but Quinn loves how he plays, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finding ways to use Brule even more.
Considering that Brule, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner all need new contracts at the end of the season, I can’t see how all three of them stay in Edmonton. One of them will be moved. Who would you move? From where I sit it seems likely that one of them will be moved, but I wonder if the organization would allow Steve Tambellini to trade Sam Gagner?
WIN OILERS TICKETS
Currently on Just A Game we are running a contest where the winner wins a pair of Oiler tickets to see the Red Wings Oct 29th, the Sharks Nov 27th and the Predators on Dec 17th. One winner, three Oiler games.
A few weeks ago I came across this article on Spike.com showcasing the ten most annoying sports fans.
What we are looking for is the three most annoying hockey fans. In a short paragraph for each team, submit why they annoy you. Be witty, cut deeply, display your annoyance with words, but it has to be readable on air. Sir Brownlee, I and Dan Barnes are the final judges. Deadline is Wednesday at 6 p.m. Submit your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck. Winner will be announced on air on Thursday.