Monday, October 22, 2007

Dustin Penner Sure Does Suck

I’m going to preface this by saying last night’s edition of the Battle of Alberta was actually pretty good through the first two periods (and I didn’t get to see the 3rd). Edmonton looked pretty good even though they were mostly in the game thanks to the Flames taking bad (but legitimate) penalties. At 1-1 an Oiler fan watching with me said ‘at least the Oilers are in the game,’ and I replied, wait till it’s even strength. I think the minute the Flames killed that PK the game turned and Langkow and Iginla took over.

Huselius continues to be the most sublime Flames player since Theoren Fleury and Mike Keenan has yet to trade him. The Flames are 4-3 and quite honestly look better than this time last year. At this time of the year though it’s still the Oilers who are the more intriguing story.

Sam Gagner’s time with the club this season could be running out, but he has probably done just about everything to stick. He’s been a good player on a bad club who are running out of options. His first goal last night was the result of good position and some hard stretching by Sean Horcoff. Hell, even Matt Greene made a nice play (and had a good hit on Kristian Huselius in the game as well, a guy who is elusive to the best of defenceman).

Cogliano had a couple more good chances, and I thought he looked good with Hemsky (who really needs to bring his A game sooner rather than later).

There is one question that keeps running through my mind though; Why does Dustin Penner suck so bad?

Or perhaps more specifically, why did Kevin Lowe believe he could play the tough minutes and succeed?

Here is a guy who by all accounts cannot skate very well, cannot handle the puck very well, and who has very average instincts. He is downright bad at the transition game and is not great at finding open ice in the offensive zone.

I suppose there is no real answer to this question besides Lowe was desperate to keep his job and running out of options. I guess the plan worked for Lowe anyway.

MacTavish made some comments at the beginning of the year about possibly playing Horcoff on a shutdown line rather than on the top line, but so far I see little evidence of that idea being put into action. I haven’t been specifically keeping track of Horcoff’s opponents, but last night he was playing with Sam Gagner, and there is no way Gagner is on any type of shutdown line.

Right now the Oilers don’t look terrible, they really don’t but they aren’t finding ways to win. I think MacT’s time (rightly or wrongly) is running out and it’s time to play with some ideas.
What about 5 man units, stabilize the team a bit and give the guys out their some chemistry and a definitive role.

I’ll examine possible units next time.

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