Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Perron Finds His Niche Fast Quick Hands, Quick Shot Boost Power Play

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Perron Finds His Niche Fast Quick Hands, Quick Shot Boost Power Play

Article excerpt

Like a lot of kids growing up in Quebec the past 30 years, David Perron followed the Penguins.

Most did so because of Mario Lemieux.

For Perron, acquired Friday in a trade from Edmonton, it was a Russian who made him a Penguins fan.

"[Alexei] Kovalev was my favorite player growing up," Perron said. "I just liked, obviously, the skill level he had. The hands, a different style [than] most players have in the league. Growing up, I just tried to do whatever he was doing ... his moves."

Perron's appreciation of Kovalev, an all-star right winger with the Penguins in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is also evident in his equipment. Unlike most players who tuck the tongues of their skates into their shin guards, Perron wears them out much like Kovalev did.

"I've been wearing them [out] for a long time," Perron said. "It's mostly because of him."

Like Kovalev, Perron is blessed with quick hands.

"When you're talking like pure, pure hands, you're thinking about David," defenseman Kris Letang said. "You're thinking about [Detroit Red Wings center Pavel] Datsyuk, [St. Louis Blues right winger T.J.] Oshie, [Chicago Blackhawks right winger] Patrick Kane. Those type of guys."

Those hands were on display in a 4-1 home loss Saturday against Montreal. Playing the left wing on a line with center Sidney Crosby and right winger Steve Downie, Perron found open ice in the slot, took a feed from Crosby and pumped a one-timer off the right skate of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price in the first period for the Penguins' only goal.

"He's got a great shot, quick hands," Crosby said. "He's really skilled with the puck. He's confident with it. You can tell he doesn't mind hanging on to it. That's usually a pretty good sign. When a guy doesn't mind hanging on with it, that mean's he's pretty good with it."

Perron's physical attributes weren't the only factor in that goal. His mental approach played a big role, as well.

"The intelligence factor, the hockey sense really is superior in upper-level types of players," said assistant coach Gary Agnew, who coached Perron in St. Louis. "It's offensive instincts, and they're hard to teach. A lot of times, you just have it within you. Those guys see the game at a different level. They see what's happening and they understand puck possession and they understand finding lanes and seams. Almost minute things that happen in the game.

"Everything's happening in a blur, right? But those guys see it at a different level."

Perron's offensive numbers were at a different level this season with the Oilers. After scoring 28 goals last season, he mustered nine in 38 games this season while primarily playing on a third line with the likes of center Mark Arcobello and right winger Teddy Purcell.

"Last year, when [Oilers left winger] Taylor Hall got hurt, I played with [center Ryan] Nugent-Hopkins and [right winger Jordan] Eberle a lot," Perron said. …

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