December 19 2008 12:22PM
After questioning what exactly was going through the mind of Craig MacTavish to even contemplate putting Dustin Penner back on the RW, it seems that MacT has come to his senses.
Penner will indeed play the left side tonight with Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole, while Marc Pouliot will be on the RW with Sam Gagner and Ethan Moreau.
Switching Penner and Pouliot is a no-brainer, but I sensed from conversations in the locker room that a player – I’m guessing Penner -- expressed some concerns, and clearly his coach listened. Sure Penner had a few good shifts with Gagner and Moreau late in Vancouver, but based on his point production this season, he is much more comfortable coming down the left side.
Or maybe MacTavish was listening to my show yesterday, or was reading the intellectual ramblings here on the Nation. I don’t think anyone cares why he changed his mind, but he did and I think it will save him some more criticism.
Had he gone with his brain cramp from yesterday’s practice and lined up Penner on the RW with Gagner and Moreau and watched them do nothing, it would have been easy to lambaste him.
These lines actually make some sense. (Of course leaving the first line together and putting Cole with Robert Nilsson and Andrew Cogliano seems better, but that’s another story.) Whether they like it or not, they have to do something to make Cole appear offensively. You would think that playing him with Ales Hemsky would make him better, but clearly he can’t penetrate the zone on the left side. I still don’t understand people who rip MacTavish for that decision, but don’t look at Cole and scream SHOW UP.
Patrick Sharp had to move to centre to play with Patrick Kane, and it hasn’t hampered him. But I digress.
The OilersNation can relax knowing their coach hasn’t completely lost his mind and has made the right decision to play Penner on the LW.
Roloson will start, and right now it seems that Liam Reddox might play on the fourth line tonight. Neither he nor Jason Strudwick was willing to offer up who was playing. Has it really come to this amount of secrecy as to who is playing on the fourth line? It definitely shouldn’t, because I doubt Randy Carlyle is worried about one of those two guys.
P.S: Only four sleeps until what should become a favourite annual article for OilersNation readers. Prepare for massive participation and some thought-provoking responses! I will also outline the rules beforehand, to ensure you all follow along properly.