February 28 2009 11:31AM
It probably isn’t a good idea to read Rob Tychkowski’s latest column if you’re at all a fan of Dustin Penner, as I am. An excerpt:
Shut out. Out-shot 17-5 in the second period. And as you looked down at that flea-bitten dog Thursday night you couldn't help wondering if some of those players even care.
Dustin Penner, the NHL poster boy for comfort zones and inconsistency, refused to comment on the state of the team yesterday. "There's other guys in there to talk to," he sniffed as he walked out of the dressing room at Millenium Place. Leaving the unpleasant work for somebody else? Why should his interviews be any different than so many of his games?
Those are some fairly gratuitous shots at Penner, so I thought I’d see how he performed against the Blue Jackets in that 1-0 loss. His NHL.com stats sheet didn’t show anything atrocious – 2 shot (leading all Oilers forwards), 3 shots directed at net (leading all Oilers forwards), 1 hit, 14:27 TOI (behind six other forwards, including Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani).
So, I went over to the scoring chances count that Dennis has been logging: 8 chances for, 7 chances against, numbers that put him ahead of his usual linemates from that game (Horcoff and Hemsky).
Then I went over to Vic Ferrari’s Time On Ice tool to see who Penner had played against. Here are the top two defensemen and top three forwards he played against in terms of ice-time vs. Columbus:
Rick Nash – 6.1 minutes Jason Williams – 4.9 minutes Jakub Voracek - 4.2 minutes
Jan Hejda – 7.3 minutes Mike Commodore – 6.8 minutes
So Penner was playing in a power-vs.-power role with Horcoff and Hemsky against Rick Nash’s line for the majority of the evening. His ice-time is only average, but despite that he comes out on top in scoring chances and leads all Oilers forwards in shots and shots directed on net.
With Dustin Penner on the ice, the Oilers directed 15 shots at the Columbus net while only allowing 12 the other way (+3). Of the 16 even-strength shots the Oilers took that reached the net, 9 of them were recorded with Penner on the ice. Let’s contrast that with, say, Ethan Moreau. Moreau was on the ice for 2 shots for and 12 shots against. That’s a 6:1 ratio, folks.
I can understand some anger at Penner; he’s rather indifferent with the media (I’ve seen him shoot down Principe a few times) and he just looks lazy sometimes on the ice. That said, the media was awfully quick to rip him a new one whenever MacTavish sat him, so perhaps Penner has some reasonable resentment. The most important point is that against Columbus Penner wasn’t part of the problem. Just for the record, here is how every player ranked in terms of shots for and against in that game:
Penner: (9/6) +3 Horcoff: (9/8) +1 Cole: (5/4) +1 Stortini: (2/1) +1 Hemsky: (9/9) EV Gagner: (5/5) EV Reddox: (0/1) -1 Nilsson: (3/5) -2 Cogliano: (2/7) -5 Brodziak (0/6) -6 Pisani: (0/8) -8 Moreau (2/12) -10
Gilbert: (10/6) +4 Smid: (6/7) -1 Strudwick: (1/3) -2 Peckham: (4/7) -3 Souray: (6/10) -4 Staios: (5/15) -10
I’d say the problems against Columbus are fairly apparent; obviously you can’t judge a player’s entire contribution by the shot clock but looking at the numbers at the bottom of this list isn't it obvious who wasn’t getting the job done? Since we’re looking at that list, the fact that Steve Staios led all players in ice-time (25:07) probably reflects on the coaching staff, doesn’t it?
I think it’s probably fair to say that Rob Tychowski was venting his personal feelings when he took those shots at Penner, rather than making an unbiased comment on the game against Columbus.