Olympic Hopeful Dustin Penner No Longer Riding Shotgun to Ducks Trio
It's about time.
Penner, was once considered by many to be a complimentary player to Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on their path to the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2006-07.
He has continued to provide about the same offence as he did in Anaheim...and then bam! His offensive production skyrocketed this season.
When he got out from under former coach Craig MacTavish's doghouse, the disgruntled Penner finally found the amount of confidence and athletic mindset required to carry his flying fridge frame to a whole new level of offensive dominance.
Penner's performance this season shows that he doesn't deserve to be mentioned as an afterthought to the other two: with the Oilers on his back and his name in the NHL scoring leaders column, he has shown to be not only a leader on this Oilers team but also a leader in just about every other measurable statistic.
How do you not admire a guy like that?
The Oilers, once sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, have been missing the contribution of the injured Ales Hemsky and many other notable Oilers players.
Most recently, the Oilers concluded a six-game road trip with a five-game winning streak, due in no small part to Penner (and Lubomir Visnovsky).
During the midst of that streak was when the news broke that Penner was finally being considered for the Olympic roster.
Many believe the selection committee has a flawed process, awarding past successes over recent triumphs.
I would tend to agree, if some of your current league leaders are not being considered, how will you take advantage of their current hot streaks and motivational peaks?
Consider that the Cup-winning Ducks were led by the dominant line of Penner-Getzlaf-Perry and that version of the line didn't feature this new-and-improved Penner: a Dustin Penner who has transcended his former self by learning not only to score but also to lead.
Penner and Perry are producing at a consistent rate on subpar teams, and dominating the other teams' best opposition while doing it.
If Yzerman wanted to ice a surefire line that has "won it all before," he should look no further than the Penner-Getzlaf-Perry line. Regardless of what order they ice the units for Team Canada, this line is sure to dominate.
With the kind of performance Team Canada has had at the Olympics as of late, it may be to their benefit to take advantage of Penner's desire.
If he continues to play like a man possessed, I don't see how they can deny him for much longer.
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