Re-thinking the left side

Jason Gregor
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.

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
Avatar
#1 MJ
December 19 2008, 12:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

MacT grew a brain over-night. A Festivus miracle!!

Avatar
#2 Klima85
December 19 2008, 12:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Finaly a good (not great) move my MacT. i believe that brings his totals to Good: 2 Bad: 23,147 (since the start of the year)

Avatar
#3 swany
December 19 2008, 12:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Must have listened to the show, or read all the blogs, I can't see Mact comming to this point on his own.

Avatar
#4 Adam
December 19 2008, 12:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hey Gregor,

Oil site says Reddox draws in and Strudwick out, or is the site a big load of crap like Mac T changing the line up for that game on Tuesday.

Enjoy the show, but miss you after the OIL games.

Avatar
#5 Rick
December 19 2008, 12:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

So what assignments does the third line take?

They aren't offensive, they aren't a checking line and they certainly aren't an energy line. What's left?

Moving Penner up improves the second line but in doing that MacT should consider moving Gagner up to the press box for a game or two to give him a chance to see the game from a different perspective and put Reddox on the third line...atleast then they would resemble a checking line.

Avatar
#6 Cam
December 19 2008, 12:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

It will either work or it won't. If it works then MacT will leave as is, if they start losing the Macblender comes out and the lines will change.

I am in favour of anything that is different since they are obviously not getting it done lately and need some change.

Avatar
#7 RLH
December 19 2008, 01:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Cam: I love comments like this, as they show the duration of history. As of six days ago, you wouldn't have seen this sort of comment. After two, count them two, games, the bandwagon is left in a tuck-'n'-roll that does the Chinese gymnastics team proud.

Sure, we have some serious consistency problems on this team. No one will contest that.

But maybe I have a different concept of "lately". And no, I don't want to get into a discussion of "sample size".

Avatar
#8 MJ
December 19 2008, 01:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
I love comments like this, as they show the duration of history. As of six days ago, you wouldn’t have seen this sort of comment. After two, count them two, games, the bandwagon is left in a tuck-’n'-roll that does the Chinese gymnastics team proud.

If you truly think the fans disdain for the Oilers' organization is from 30 games this season or even just the past 2 losses, you haven't been visiting this site often enough.

8 years of average results.

Avatar
#9 OilW30
December 19 2008, 01:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

It would make sense to keep the top line together, but using Hemsky to ignite some of the young guys also seems to be worth a try.

Hopefully Cole seizes the opportunity to get off the third line.

Avatar
#10 Adam
December 19 2008, 01:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Rick: You need to hit to be a checking line. Pouliot doesn't hit.

Avatar
#11 The Towel Boy
December 19 2008, 01:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Who saw this coming?

Avatar
#12 Gord
December 19 2008, 01:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Penner and Nilsson still need to be switched, other than that I think MacT followed my directions quite clearly ;)

If MacT was to switch Penner and Nilsson it would give each line a bit of size and make the Hemsky line the clear #1 line. Looking at the line of Penner/Horc/Cole, one could easily argue that this is the new #1 line and Hemsky was demoted to the second line with the kids?

Avatar
#13 baggedmilk
December 19 2008, 01:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

The Fire MacT Bandwagon is full of gas and waiting outside Rexall. Jeanshorts licked the hand rail so he is stuck until someone pees in his mouth or has a warm cup of water.

Avatar
#14 Colin
December 19 2008, 01:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hemsky is the best player = 1st line.

Didn't see this coming thought MacT's Head was so far in the clouds/up his own butt........well you can probably finish that one

Avatar
#15 The Towel Boy
December 19 2008, 01:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

hey BM...how'd you make out with the A-Team inspired paint job you were talking about?

Avatar
#16 Bruthah
December 19 2008, 01:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

The way I look at it, we need to build lines like the swedish team from NES 'Ice hockey'. Can't put all you skinny fast guys on one line, spread them out. Can't put all the hard hitters or hard shooters on one line, spread them out. Make lines with a sh!tdisturber, a playmaker and a hump in front of the net.

My lines I would like to see Pen - Hor - Hem (don't fix what ain't kinda broke) Pou - Cog - Cole Nil - Brodz - Moreau and rotate the forth line

But hey, that's just me.

Avatar
#17 Kevin
December 19 2008, 01:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

It looks like Spezza has had a falling out in Ottawa. Don't you think he would look good in Oil silks centering Hemmer & Gagner/Neison with Cole-Horcroft-Penner at line 1B. I'm sure that it would cost the Oil Gilbert & probably Neilsen but changes need to be made.

Avatar
#18 The Towel Boy
December 19 2008, 01:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kevin wrote:

It looks like Spezza has had a falling out in Ottawa. Don’t you think he would look good in Oil silks centering Hemmer & Gagner/Neison with Cole-Horcroft-Penner at line 1B. I’m sure that it would cost the Oil Gilbert & probably Neilsen but changes need to be made.

Maybe we could take Smith back... We could use a nice stay at home / punish the front of the net type guy. ;)

Avatar
#19 baggedmilk
December 19 2008, 01:57PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

The Towel Boy wrote:

hey BM…how’d you make out with the A-Team inspired paint job you were talking about?

We changed things around and decided to go with the mystery machine paint job instead.

Avatar
#20 Gord
December 19 2008, 02:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kevin wrote:

It looks like Spezza has had a falling out in Ottawa. Don’t you think he would look good in Oil silks centering Hemmer & Gagner/Neison with Cole-Horcroft-Penner at line 1B. I’m sure that it would cost the Oil Gilbert & probably Neilsen but changes need to be made.

Spezza isn't popular in OTT because of his lack of consistancy and unwillingness to back check. That doesn't sound like the type of player that the Oilers require to me.

Avatar
#21 Bruthah
December 19 2008, 02:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

baggedmilk wrote:

The Towel Boy wrote: hey BM…how’d you make out with the A-Team inspired paint job you were talking about? We changed things around and decided to go with the mystery machine paint job instead.

So who's wearing the ascot? JS or BM?

Avatar
#22 Kevin
December 19 2008, 02:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Gord: Gord wrote:

Kevin wrote: It looks like Spezza has had a falling out in Ottawa. Don’t you think he would look good in Oil silks centering Hemmer & Gagner/Neison with Cole-Horcroft-Penner at line 1B. I’m sure that it would cost the Oil Gilbert & probably Neilsen but changes need to be made. Spezza isn’t popular in OTT because of his lack of consistancy and unwillingness to back check. That doesn’t sound like the type of player that the Oilers require to me.

Yes, BUT he is a proven scorer that hopefully MacT wouldn't turn into Mike Peca.

Avatar
#23 shakey
December 19 2008, 02:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jason, Johnathon, Robin...anyone who'll listen, what are the chances that the decision on this was made from above and Mac T was following a 'suggestion' from the boss?

Avatar
#24 Cam
December 19 2008, 02:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@RLH

Perhaps I should say that this team is expected to do better than they have so far this season, so they need to change some things up.

They finished the season last year in good form, but since then it hasn't been so hot.

Some different line combinations might not be a bad idea, though I worry about splitting up the only line that seems to be performing.

Avatar
#25 Gord
December 19 2008, 02:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Kevin wrote:

Yes, BUT he is a proven scorer that hopefully MacT wouldn’t turn into Mike Peca.

And if we could get him for Nilsson and Gilbert don't you think K-Lo and Tambo wouldn't already have him on a plane out here? Even if that's all it would take to get Spezza here, without crunching the numbers, I think that trade would put us over the cap.

Avatar
#26 Cam
December 19 2008, 02:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Gord:

TSN.ca breaks down the deal as follows:

For the first three seasons (2008-09 to 2010-11) Spezza receives $4 million in base salary with a $4 million signing bonus.

For the next two seasons (2011-12 to 2012-13) he’ll receive $6 million in base salary with a $2 million signing bonus.

He’ll receive $5 million in 2013-14 and $4 million in 2014-15.

The site also reports that, like linemate Dany Heatley, Spezza’s new contract also comes with provisions for a no-trade clause.

This is from a Fox News release in Nov 2007.

Nilsson is 3M and Gilbert is 4M so it would be a wash cap-wise.

Avatar
#27 Jonathan Willis
December 19 2008, 02:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

If the Senators were willing to entertain Horcoff+ for Spezza, Lowe/Tambellini should snap it up. Players of Spezza's calibre don't grow on trees, and that would alter the Oilers lineup in a very good way.

Of course, they'd still need to get at least one top-nine tough-minutes forward, but it would be worth it.

Avatar
#28 MattL
December 19 2008, 02:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Yep, yep, yep. To quote myself from yesterday:

"I don’t mind these lines THAT much. Switch Pouliot with Penner though. Doesn’t it seem like a no-brainer?"

Sign me up, Katz, I didn't play every single year of NHL video games, plus Ice Hockey, Blades of Steel, Wayne Gretzky 3D, etc... for nothing.

Avatar
#29 Jason Gregor
December 19 2008, 02:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Adam: Adam,

I can't confirm who is in, but I asked Strudwick and he thinks he is in. Won't know for sure until the warmup. but based on Anaheim's roster you would think it would be Strudwick, but then again predicting what MacT is thinking is like a married guy knowing what his wife is thinking...I have no idea.

Avatar
#30 Cam
December 19 2008, 03:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

If you can land a guy like Spezza you do it. He has averaged 1.275 PPG for the last three years (I calculated properly this time, Robin). That's better than any Oiler since Messier (even better than weight when he had 104 pts that one season).

I think the only untouchable on our team would be Hemsky if we were getting someone like Spezza coming the other way.

Avatar
#31 Big Deal
December 19 2008, 03:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I think Oiler fans are dreaming if they think the Senators are going to give up on Spezza so easily. He is a top six forward on any team and a point a game guy. That type of player is very rare especially as a center. I am sure the Oilers would give up a whole ton to get him but the Senators have very little cap room and very little need for the type of players the Oilers would be willing to offer.

Avatar
#32 cremps
December 19 2008, 03:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Gord wrote:

Kevin wrote: It looks like Spezza has had a falling out in Ottawa. Don’t you think he would look good in Oil silks centering Hemmer & Gagner/Neison with Cole-Horcroft-Penner at line 1B. I’m sure that it would cost the Oil Gilbert & probably Neilsen but changes need to be made. Spezza isn’t popular in OTT because of his lack of consistancy and unwillingness to back check. That doesn’t sound like the type of player that the Oilers require to me.

Sounds like he'd fit right in...

Avatar
#33 Jonathan Willis
December 19 2008, 04:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Big Deal:

Yeah, it's probably a pipe-dream. If he's available though, I don't see any option other than going for it.

Avatar
#34 Gord
December 19 2008, 04:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Cam: That still doesn't mean that the Sens would make the deal of Spezza for Nilsson and Gilbert. If Bryan Murray makes that trade he would be forced to legally change his name to Mike Milbury.

Avatar
#35 shakey
December 19 2008, 04:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I scooped this from an article in the Edm Sun;

Head coach Craig MacTavish says the Oilers are actually trending up, the last two games notwithstanding.

"Against Chicago, anything that could go wrong did go wrong, but outside of that I see our game coming," he said. "It's hard to say that when the results are all that matter, but I see our team game coming together.

"Now it's just a case of going out and getting the wins. I'm optimistic that we're going to play well tonight. My expectation is that we're going to go out and play a solid game."

Seems odd to mix it up so much when you feel this way, doesn't it?

Avatar
#36 Sing A Song For SingSing
December 19 2008, 04:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Big Deal wrote:

He is a top six forward on any team and a point a game guy.

Top six on any team eh.

Ottawa is struggling. Bottom line. He is a point machine and can be downright dominant.

He's in the top 5-10 centers in the NHL, still young. More like a 1st line player on any team IMO.

Avatar
#37 Sing A Song For SingSing
December 19 2008, 04:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

shakey wrote:

I scooped this from an article in the Edm Sun; Head coach Craig MacTavish says the Oilers are actually trending up, the last two games notwithstanding. “Against Chicago, anything that could go wrong did go wrong, but outside of that I see our game coming,” he said. “It’s hard to say that when the results are all that matter, but I see our team game coming together. “Now it’s just a case of going out and getting the wins. I’m optimistic that we’re going to play well tonight. My expectation is that we’re going to go out and play a solid game.” Seems odd to mix it up so much when you feel this way, doesn’t it?

What absolute idiocy.

MacT is a complete moron. Can't stand this guy as our coach anymore.

I get the Journal and the Sun everyday, I can't even flip to the sports section anymore in either of those papers.

Realized today that I'm sick to my stomach from reading any quotes from players and coaches. To be honest is disgusts me.

I don't have anything else to say about that.

Avatar
#38 RBK
December 19 2008, 04:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

shakey wrote:

Jason, Johnathon, Robin…anyone who’ll listen, what are the chances that the decision on this was made from above and Mac T was following a ’suggestion’ from the boss?

I bet Katz is on an island right now somewhere enjoying the holidays and the fact he has already made back the purchase price of the Oilers on his well performing investments!! LOL

Avatar
#39 shakey
December 19 2008, 04:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Sing A Song For SingSing wrote: You pretty much said everything that needs to be said.

Avatar
#40 Oilersordeath
December 19 2008, 05:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Spezza isn’t popular in OTT because of his lack of consistancy and unwillingness to back check. That doesn’t sound like the type of player that the Oilers require to me.@ Gord:

Thats all the Oilers have right now is a bunch of lazy sivs who dont back check worth spit!! Spezza would fit right in!!

Avatar
#41 Gord
December 19 2008, 05:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Sing A Song For SingSing wrote:

He is a point machine and can be downright dominant. He’s in the top 5-10 centers in the NHL, still young. More like a 1st line player on any team IMO.

I like Spezza too, but how much of his success comes with playing in between Heatly and Alfredsson? I agree the Oil should jump at the opportunity to trade for him but I think Oiler fans will be saddened by a decline in his production after arrival in E-town. Keep in mind that 50 of his assists he gets annually come from Dany Heatly goals. The Oilers are hard pressed to find 2 forwards who can put up 50 goals combined and we have a good playmaker here - some of you may have even heard of him - some guy named Hemsky? That being said, it would be nice to bring Spezza's last 2 seasons of 34 goals over. Who knows, maybe Hemmer can turn Spezza into a 50 goal man?

Avatar
#42 Jason Gregor
December 19 2008, 05:13PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ shakey: shakey wrote:

Jason, Johnathon, Robin…anyone who’ll listen, what are the chances that the decision on this was made from above and Mac T was following a ’suggestion’ from the boss?

Doubtful. Based on MacTavish's response when I asked him, it sounds like he spoke with a player, and I'm guessing it was either Penner or Horcoff.

Katz would never tell him who to play, and it's doubtful that Tambellini would chime in since he is only been here for 30 games. Very few GMs around the league would for that matter. Coaches don't like having someone tell them who to play. If anything it would be more likely one of the assistant coaches said something to him.

Avatar
#43 MikeP
December 20 2008, 09:39AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

"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."

They probably do it to drive media guys crazy. I know I would. It obviously works.

Avatar
#44 MCG
December 20 2008, 04:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

MacT can have the biggest brainfart and still look and smell like roses in the end. I even saw him driving around the Rexall parking lot with the stanley Cup tied to the back of his bumper, now he's in for a promotion.

Comments are closed for this article.