A Quick Dustin Penner Question

Jonathan Willis
March 09 2009 01:46PM

Dustin Penner

There are a lot of people out there who don’t like Dustin Penner. “Lazy” is a word that gets tossed around a lot, although “inconsistent” “unmotivated” and even “fat” get used sometimes too. I decided I’d take a quick look at how the first line of Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff have performed this season with and without Dustin Penner.

I decided to use Vic Ferrari’s Time On Ice tool, which scans NHL shift charts, to compile the results for the first line with and without Dustin Penner.

With Dustin Penner

  • 21 goals for, 5 goals against (+16)
  • 173 shots for, 109 shots against (+64)

Without Dustin Penner

  • 9 goals for, 10 goals against (-1)
  • 281 shots for, 250 shots against (+31)

I really didn’t like the Dustin Penner offer sheet; I place great value on draft picks, and felt that Penner was too much of a question mark for such a big offer. That said, I do think that Penner’s a useful NHL player who has been made the scapegoat far too much on a team with multiple problems.

My question for those of you who don’t like Dustin Penner: Why is the first line so much better with Penner than without him?

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 jeanshorts
March 09 2009, 07:15PM
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speeds wrote:

In what way do you mean that you “own the team”?

No Fans = No Money = No Team.

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#102 misfit
March 09 2009, 07:19PM
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what just happened? Earlier today, I made a post. When I posted it, there was a red bar at the top that said it was waiting to be moderated. Now it's gone.

...what was the problem? I don't know what the rules are around here, but I don't think I said anything that would call for it to be deleted.

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#103 speeds
March 09 2009, 07:31PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

speeds wrote: In what way do you mean that you “own the team”? No Fans = No Money = No Team.

If everyone agrees to stop buying cars from Honda, that would be very bad for Honda. But that doesn't mean that you "own" Honda when you buy one of their cars.

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#104 jeanshorts
March 09 2009, 08:02PM
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@ speeds:

True, but I was just pointing out what Ray meant. He feels that since we all technically pay the salaries of everyone involved, why not think of the fans as owners.

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#105 Harlie Chuddy
March 09 2009, 08:12PM
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@ speeds:

it's quite a bit different. A product cycle on a ticket is days where as on a car it's years or sometimes months. This is not even apples to oranges.

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#106 Dennis
March 09 2009, 08:15PM
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We see more and more things written about how useless Penner is; when do we see anything written about the blame for contract that was given him?

You know, it could be worse.

We might have signed Nylander.

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#107 Smokin' Ray
March 09 2009, 08:39PM
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speeds wrote:

Smokin’ Ray wrote: I do care that he is slow and lazy. I do care that he is wasting a roster spot because he is a lollygagger and can’t be bothered to actually try. And I do care because I spend my money on this team, therefore I/We the OilersNation own this team and we can expect anything more than what Mr. Penner can provide. We all should. Maybe a bus ride in the minors would have been good for him. In what way do you mean that you “own the team”?

as in; We as fans own the team. Anyone who buys tickets, hats, shirts, jerseys anything NHL and Oilers related. Sure Katz could survive with out all of us... for a few years. Then what? Then no more $$$$ and your done. Ask the Nashville owner(s). Think they would be relocating/selling if the fans didn't matter. They have none. So they are screwed.

So yeah. I feel like I own this team. We all should. I've "bought" into this team since 1984.

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#108 Smokin' Ray
March 09 2009, 08:45PM
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@ Dennis:

Isn't Nylanders wife the best wife in the world? Thank god for women. We should send her an OilersNation shirt.

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#109 speeds
March 09 2009, 08:45PM
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Harlie Chuddy wrote:

@ speeds: it’s quite a bit different. A product cycle on a ticket is days where as on a car it’s years or sometimes months. This is not even apples to oranges.

It's not like all tickets are bought the day of. Maybe 70% of ticket holders are season ticket holders?

Maybe not the same time scale as cars, but it's not like there's no lag time between dissatisfaction and ability to really do anything about it.

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#110 Smokin' Ray
March 09 2009, 08:53PM
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But didn't anyone find it strange that they would ask for people to renew their tickets a few days BEFORE the trade deadline? Shouldn't we all ask why?

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#111 speeds
March 09 2009, 09:06PM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

But didn’t anyone find it strange that they would ask for people to renew their tickets a few days BEFORE the trade deadline? Shouldn’t we all ask why?

I don't think it's that strange. They need to know ahead of time what they have for season tickets to set budget, etc.

Perhaps having season ticket holders already committed for the next season, should they miss the playoffs, is not looked upon as a bad thing.

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#112 Smokin' Ray
March 09 2009, 09:23PM
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But shouldn't the fans know which (as an example) Hossa will be an Oiler before we shell out money, before the trade deadline? Marcel or Marian? Would that not change your outlook on this team? Would firing MacT make you happy right now, only to hire Bucky as the new head coach in the summer? Same ____, Different pile right? The deal at the deadline wasn't just a right here right now deal. It tell's a person what the plans and/or objective the Oilers have and what it is that they are going to provide the paying fan base.

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#113 Smokin' Ray
March 09 2009, 09:25PM
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anyways.... I bet right now at this moment.

Dustin Penner is eating a donair.

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#114 Mike L
March 09 2009, 09:31PM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

But didn’t anyone find it strange that they would ask for people to renew their tickets a few days BEFORE the trade deadline? Shouldn’t we all ask why?

Do you have season tickets? If not, then why do you care. It isn't affecting your pocket book.

And if the fans really cared they would stop buying, like we did in the mid 90s...So either don't buy the tickets or don't complain about it. We all have a choice as Oiler fans.

I bought re-newed my tickets and I hope they will improve, but I don't buy them expecting a GUARANTEE they will make the playoffs. 16 or 30 teams make the playoffs, does that mean that the other 14 cities should stop buying tickets?

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#115 Mike L
March 09 2009, 09:32PM
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OF 30 teams...edit button soon please..ha

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#116 Milli
March 09 2009, 09:36PM
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JW,

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#117 Milli
March 09 2009, 09:40PM
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JW, NEED EDIT BUTTON, I picked Penner to be the GUY this year. And, ya, he has some decent numbers, but his potential is a lot more than that. I do not just blame big dustin, I think with a coach that handled all players the same, a new coach, he would produce more. But, watching this guy recently, I do not think there is any denying he is totally frustrated and it comes across as disinterest in the game. If he was just a plugger like Moreau or Storts, he would be gone...but watching him lately, it's like PLEASE, PLEASE we are in the stretch, big boy, show up, show some passion.....

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#118 socaldave
March 09 2009, 09:41PM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

anyways…. I bet right now at this moment. Dustin Penner is eating a donair.

they're in montreal. he's eating poutine off a stripper's ass

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#119 Jay
March 09 2009, 09:41PM
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I would be curious to see a points per 60 minutes number for the line of Hemsky Horcoff and Penner as a unit, compared to other number 1 lines around the league.

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#120 Zamboni Driver
March 09 2009, 09:55PM
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Why is this team mediocre?

Because people actually believe and defend the idea that a player who scores 20 goals MAYBE (not this year probably) is worth more than 4 million.

that the people are so bamboozled by the fact that KLowe won so many cups that they actually believe the line of B.S.

Defenders of Penner...even the COACH thinks he sucks.

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#121 Smokin' Ray
March 09 2009, 09:55PM
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I wasn't talking about the playoffs. Did I say playoffs? I said next year/season. The deadline is not just for this season and to stock your team and make a run for the cup. O'Sullivan is here for 2 more years. That's not short term. That's what I'm talking about.

For years I have heard about building for the future. Was the 06 run the "future"? Now we went back to square one? When are we ever going to be not building for the future? MacT lied to us. *shakes fist at MacT's direction*

And BTW MikeL, it's kind of pointless to have seasons tickets when you are 2 1/2 hours away with a young family. Why is that always the first defence? Have I had seasons tickets? Yup. When I lived there. What about my $13.99 I pay for PPV? That's like nose bleed seats. Add that all up and that's two seats with the Oilers Mini Pack. Right? Let's see. I bought a couple of Gags jerseys. One for me and one for my 9 month old daughter. That's about equivalent to taking a family of 4 to a game or two. (No Beer) In other words, spending money for the team I love should count for a lot. Regardless of how a person watches a game.

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#122 Q
March 09 2009, 10:11PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Why is this team mediocre? Because people actually believe and defend the idea that a player who scores 20 goals MAYBE (not this year probably) is worth more than 4 million. that the people are so bamboozled by the fact that KLowe won so many cups that they actually believe the line of B.S. Defenders of Penner…even the COACH thinks he sucks.

And of course here on ON we always believe what MacT thinks (insert irony here).

So why do we follow his opinion on this guy?

It is not Penner's fault he was offered this money, 'cause he is who he is. Not who we want him to be.

BTW, if I was constantly slagged for playing smart hockey, I might not want to put out tons of effort for the guy slagging me and ignoring the positive things I brought to the table. I'm with Lowetide on this one - MacT has picked a weird fight, at an important time of the season.

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#123 Jon K
March 09 2009, 11:00PM
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I just spent half an hour typing out an analysis in response to this post, only to accidentally click another link using my touchpad. Waste of time: Complete.

In summary, I'm of the opinion that Penner is a useful player in a narrow view given his size and strength, but that ultimately comparing Hemsky and Horcoff's performance with him and without him is a flawed metric.

When looking to the LW depth of this team, it's obvious that Penner is the best option over the likes of Nilsson, Reddox, or Moreau.

Ultimately, the metric is not telling us that Penner is an overly effective player for his skillset, merely that he is a more effective player than two players who weigh in close to 170 lbs and an aging checking line veteran. My point is buttressed by the assumption that Hemsky and Horcoff are both above-average ES players in their own right.

Hence MacTavish's frustration with Penner's conditioning and consistency. MacTavish has Penner playing 2 minutes less at ES than Hemsky. Because I'm of the belief that MacTavish is ultimately a competent NHL coach, albeit a poor manager of personal relations, my suggestion is that he's playing Penner generally to his strengths: Offensive zone draws with Horcoff and Hemsky, while cutting his minutes in situations where he does not trust him (i.e. defensive zone draws against that tough and/or fast matchups). There is moderate support of this conclusion from behindthenet.com and timeonice.com.

Quite simply, Penner has shown that he can be an extremely effective player. The issue however is that he cannot or will not do it consistently. MacTavish then has a highly paid player who theoretically could be the missing piece of a superior top line, but unfortunately, he's left with a guessing game of when exactly he can trust his player and when he cannot. I speculate that he is further frustrated by not having any other ES horse to play on the left side with two players who are highly effective in their respective roles (Horcoff, Hemsky).

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#124 Librarian Mike
March 09 2009, 11:03PM
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Here's a random thought to make everyone feel warm and cozy before bedtime: You know that scene near the end of Training Day, when Denzel is in the street ranting and raving about how he owns this town and how he can't be stopped. As he's doing this, the crowd of gang members is slowly closing in on him and it becomes clear that Denzel is finished.

Now, imagine that scene but with MacT as Denzel and us as the gang surrounding him.

Good night!

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#125 The Towel Boy
March 09 2009, 11:26PM
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...ok...but I get to be Ethan Hawke.

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#126 speeds
March 09 2009, 11:29PM
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Jon K:

I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at? Are you saying that even though Penner could be better, he is the best option and should be EDM's 1st line LW down the stretch? Or that because he isn't reaching his potential he shouldn't be given that lineup spot until he starts, more obviously, striving for said potential, in spite of his being the best current option?

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#127 Jon K
March 09 2009, 11:38PM
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speeds: You've largely captured my opinion in your first point. Penner could be better and he is definitely sub-par in certain aspects, but he's also undoubtedly our best option at LW. This conclusion is supported by the eye and the calculator. My secondary point is that a metric comparing Hemsky and Horcoff with him and without him will only ever show that he is a better ES option than 3 very poor alternatives. It does not speak to his absolute value as a hockey player relative to his "potential".

Other than that, I was just trying to explain why I think MacTavish is frustrated with his performance thus far. While MacTavish and the masses might both be currently pointing in the same direction in their opinion of Penner, I would argue that his reasons are grounded in some form of reason, rather than a lack thereof.

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#128 Hocknee Fann
March 10 2009, 12:12AM
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Perhaps MacT thinks this is the only way in getting him to pick up his play again – it worked for a bit last time!

Based on the salary that he is making, Penner should be more consistent and work harder - which in my opinion is what is in the back of many fans minds who critique him.

That's the whole problem. Based on his salary, every one in Edmonton thinks this guy is - or should be - better than what perhaps he really is. The Oil's media machine was out in full force (lead by K-Lowe) selling us on the deal that K-Lowe made in getting him (brilliant, bold, etc). The Edmonton media was lapping it up! This immediately placed this gut under the spotlight - a spotlight he never experienced in Anaheim.

There were several Edmonton media people who were upset by Brian Burke’s comments following Kevin Lowe's $21.25-million offer sheet made to Dustin Penner. At the time, I felt Burke’s comments were appropriate given the circumstances. Penner just completed his first full NHL season with the Ducks, which wasn’t bad - 29 goals, 16 assists for 45 points.

But keep in mind he played on a line with two other rising young stars - Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who were drafted 19th and 28th overall respectively in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft (Penner was not drafted). But he wasn’t yet worthy of the type of contract that was thrown out to him by the Oilers. Burke was right, a couple of years prior to this, the Oilers would have shared his viewpoints. They always made comments about outlandish contract offers to players who had yet to proven themselves as experienced or skilled NHLers deserving largely to the leagues stars! Have we forgotten about the comments made by the Oilers and the media that followed them when teams like the Wings, Rangers, Flyers and the Leafs were throwing big bucks out to the wind to 3rd and 4th liners and we couldn’t keep our stars - or 1st or 2nd liners? Burke’s comments following Lowe's inflated offer sheet to Dustin Penner:

"I have no problem with offer sheets, they're a part of the CBA. I think it's a tool that a team is entitled to use."

"I think it's a classless move, timing-wise. I was not notified until an agent faxed in the offer to us. I thought Kevin would have called me and told me this was coming. I thought that was gutless. I wouldn't have done it."

"He was not obligated to call me, but I think some guys would have called. I can't read his mind, especially when he doesn't call me. Call Kevin and ask him. I've made several statements. Put them together and you can see why I'm irate."

"My issue here is that this is the second time this year that, in my opinion, Edmonton has offered a grossly inflated salary for a player. I think it impacts all 30 teams. I think it's an act of desperation by a general manager who is fighting to keep his job."

Burke has the last laugh.

Penner has not proven by his play that he is worthy of the salary that Kevin Lowe through at him. Lowe overpaid and that caused a trickle down effect – something the small market teams (like the Oilers) used to cry over.

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#129 ed
March 10 2009, 01:08AM
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2 words: RYAN SMYTH.

Penner's alright and most certainly the best LW on this team (sadly). But, is he giving it his all? Look at the numbers that Smyth was able to put up with Hemsky and Horc. That's the kind of production I want from this line.

The numbers suggest that our 1st line is doing alright... but our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines are WAY too inconsistent and need more help from the big guns. We were killed by the Preds last week because their best players were MUCh better than our best players.

Btw, Horc and Hemmer have to be better too.

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#130 Dennis
March 10 2009, 03:38AM
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I guess MacT think's he can keep kicking the guy and getting responses out of him but the joke's on MacT because even with our 75 fowards, we still don't have a better option at 1LW than 27.

But, you know, when you're bulletproof, you'll try a lot of things.

Just ask Kevin Lowe.

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#131 MikeP
March 10 2009, 07:12AM
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Hocknee Fann wrote:

Burke has the last laugh.

How're those Ducks looking to be set up for the next couple of years? Great goaltending, huh? Almost as good as Edmonton's! And a committed GM too!

Oh, wait. He blew town as soon as a better spot came up. For a place where he's got a free pass for 3 years and where he's got reporters scratching at the door just to lap up pearls of wisdom depending from his lips.

Lowe's far from perfect, but pointing to Burke as your ideal "league executive" warrants a big ol horse laugh.

You should be looking much farther east for that. Oh, no, much farther northeast. Er. Toronto now, right. Not Vancouver or Anaheim. A bit to the south and west... yeah, that's right. Detroit.

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#132 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
March 10 2009, 08:28AM
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Mac T is sitting Penner out again tonight against Montreal.Maybe if Mac t started coaching and kept some consistant line combinations he would get results from his players,yet all he does is critize and mix up his lines.All you need to look at is Eric Coles points in his first two games back with Carolina tell me he was not happy getting away from this Moron who coaches our team, how many other players on this team play the way they do hoping some day K lowe or Tambalini say enough is enough and get rid of this idiot.If it can happen to Carbonnoue in Montreal why cant we get rid of Mac T here?

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#133 Zamboni Driver
March 10 2009, 08:37AM
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See I think 'sending a message' isn't the point this time around.

I think FINALLY that there is a realization that...

If you suck you sit.

Penner absolutely sucks, and couldn't give a damn about anything other than reliving that great fight he had against Tyson.

So sit him.

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#134 Jonathan Willis
March 10 2009, 09:09AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

JW, Do you think Penner makes Hemsky better? And when a guy has no points in nine games do you keep him on your first line?

I'm not going to say that Penner makes Hemsky better, but I'll put it this way: Penner + Hemsky >>>> Any other Oilers LW + Hemsky.

Yes, his contract is huge, and yes, he can look like he's coasting - but the healthy scratches and constant callouts in the media don't seem to have helped his performance much. And once they've stopped working, MacTavish needs to suck it up and play him because he's the best option he's got.

People seem to think that Penner's played his way off the top line, but that isn't how it happened. Out of camp, Penner was banished to the third line. Eventually he got put into a revolving door with Robert Nilsson and Ethan Moreau and Liam Reddox and Erik Cole and anyone else MacT figured he should try. It's very telling that he's averaged the same amount of ice-time at evens as Ales Kotalik, when Kotalik was a bottom-six forward in Buffalo and Penner's ostensibly a top-six forward here. I think he's had some reasonable success on that first line, and MacT should run with him for a bit, but if not, why doesn't he try and use him in a place where he's had success before - as a soft-minutes scorer, playing on Gagner's wing?

The continual scratching does not seem to be helping.

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#135 Jonathan Willis
March 10 2009, 09:10AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Penner absolutely sucks

More than Nilsson? Reddox? Pouliot? Gagner? Moreau?

Are you seriously contending that this team has twelve forwards who are better than Dustin Penner?

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#136 Zamboni Driver
March 10 2009, 09:22AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

No, I think you're right on that account which is a sad indictment of this team - but there are several more that have a helluva lot more try in them than this guy.

Having said that....is Penner better than any of those guys? I know you have a list of stats as long as your arm to refute me, but I still say he is not.

He is CERTAINLY not as good as the new guy...and since, by your own definition, he's ONLY decent with Hemsky (reminds me of the 'fire hydrant' line from about 1981), where does he play? He doesn't hit, doesn't skate, doesn't kill penalties...so what does he bring?

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#137 Rick
March 10 2009, 09:33AM
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I'm late to the discussion but will chime in anyways.

Comparing Penner to the LW alternatives the Oilers have should never be the bench mark of defending him.

The point of the game is not to be better than your team mates but to be better than the other teams.

But here is the biggest issue for me, when Penner is playing well he shows exactly why he got the offer sheet. He can be a damn fine hockey player...again when he is on his game. The problem is that for as often as he shows positive signs, he equally as often or even morseo shows signs of complete disinterest.

All of the so called advanced stats that are in support of him should actually be held up as a point of critisism. If you were to buy into the notion that he has actually done ok so far AND you married the stats with the, to be kind, inconsistent efforts on the ice from game to game that we all see for ourselves the question we are left with is; How good could this guy actually be?

But because his 'who gives a flip' attitude can't seem to be broken we will never know that answer and that is worth every critical word written about him.

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#138 Deep Oil
March 10 2009, 09:44AM
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jeanshorts wrote:

@ speeds: True, but I was just pointing out what Ray meant. He feels that since we all technically pay the salaries of everyone involved, why not think of the fans as owners.

Fans did not pay for the team, do not cover all the costs such as travel, admin, promotion, league salary equalization support (Nashville, PHX< Florida, Tampa).... you consider them owners, some consider them customers, I think they are sheep.

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#139 Deep Oil
March 10 2009, 09:48AM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

speeds wrote: Smokin’ Ray wrote: I do care that he is slow and lazy. I do care that he is wasting a roster spot because he is a lollygagger and can’t be bothered to actually try. And I do care because I spend my money on this team, therefore I/We the OilersNation own this team and we can expect anything more than what Mr. Penner can provide. We all should. Maybe a bus ride in the minors would have been good for him. In what way do you mean that you “own the team”? as in; We as fans own the team. Anyone who buys tickets, hats, shirts, jerseys anything NHL and Oilers related. Sure Katz could survive with out all of us… for a few years. Then what? Then no more $$$$ and your done. Ask the Nashville owner(s). Think they would be relocating/selling if the fans didn’t matter. They have none. So they are screwed. So yeah. I feel like I own this team. We all should. I’ve “bought” into this team since 1984.

Sounds like a booster, not an owner..... This seems more like socialism than capitalism. Not impressed with this wannna be self declared CEO

Jersey sales go to the league and then redistributed equally - so are you a league owner as well, then buck up for the support payments for all the dogs in the sunbelt markets.... cash call.

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#140 Deep Oil
March 10 2009, 09:51AM
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oilersseasonticketholdersince99 wrote:

Mac T is sitting Penner out again tonight against Montreal.Maybe if Mac t started coaching and kept some consistant line combinations he would get results from his players,yet all he does is critize and mix up his lines.All you need to look at is Eric Coles points in his first two games back with Carolina tell me he was not happy getting away from this Moron who coaches our team, how many other players on this team play the way they do hoping some day K lowe or Tambalini say enough is enough and get rid of this idiot.If it can happen to Carbonnoue in Montreal why cant we get rid of Mac T here?

Because in Monrteal, hockey is life - winning is everything.

In Edmonton, Hockey is a social outlet and if we make the playoffs that is great, if not there is always next year.

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#141 yo
March 10 2009, 10:08AM
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By benching Penner and allowing so much of the organization's dirty laundry to air publicly I wonder if MacT isn't forcing everything to a head and he may be the first in the line of fire. Sitting a guy with Penner's contract is alot more impactful on the organization than sitting a fourth-liner. I'm no NHL coach but even I know Penner and Nilsson are going to score zero goals from where he has them sitting. Good, bad or indifferent I think they need to play all their best horses until the end 'o the season and make adjustments in the off-season. MacT is so focused on embarrassing these guys he has lost sight of what is best for the team. He's trying to make it look like it's Penner and Nilsson's fault the team is a mess.

Taking all of his fights with players public has got to be embarrassing to ownership and management. It pulls the Oiler organization down to the level of the Leafs for the last 40 yrs. and that's not good.

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#142 topshelf FMNF
March 10 2009, 10:13AM
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..at least the Leafs work hard this year. It'd be easier to be a Leafs fan than an Oilers fan right now.

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#143 Peter Pan
March 10 2009, 10:20AM
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Deep Oil wrote:

In Edmonton, Hockey is a social outlet and if we make the playoffs that is great, if not there is always next year.

Actually, to the bloggers, hockey is life. But honestly, for the guys blaming the Oilers woes on MacT is wrong. He does not have the guns; plain and simple! Is he a great coach? No. But he isn't an idiot either. Its like trying to win a war without any guns. He does not have the artillery to take this team to the next level.

Over the years, he has always had a big hole in his line up. Either no scoring, no goaltending, no offensive D-men, no muscle, no veterans, no 1st line centre, etc. And this year is no different. I'm not a MacT fan, but to blame him for everything is wrong.

As for Penner... disappointing.

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#144 Mother Pucker Hockey
March 10 2009, 10:27AM
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It's really a tough one to answer, but I think that some of this has to be taken away from Penner and pointed towards Horcoff. How he stays off MacT's shitlist is beyond me. And since Ales and Ales2 have been united, Horcoff's garbage play (or lack of knowing how to play at all) has become even more glaringly obvious.

Maybe find someone that can actually PLAY with these guys that we bring in and things will be different.

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#145 Jonathan Willis
March 10 2009, 10:34AM
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Rick wrote:

I’m late to the discussion but will chime in anyways. Comparing Penner to the LW alternatives the Oilers have should never be the bench mark of defending him. The point of the game is not to be better than your teammates.

This isn't necessarily about defending Penner. It's about looking at MacTavish's bench management. If Penner is the best LW on the team, than he should be playing the most minutes - something he hasn't done all season.

I love it when guys go "Penner was invisible tonight" and then you look at the time on ice and he only played 10 minutes. No kidding he was invisible - it's hard to make plays from the bench.

If Penner's the best LW on the team, and you aren't motivating him by scratching him, I'd argue there's no better option than playing him. MacTavish seems to be allowing personal pique to interfere with icing the best possible team.

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#146 Jonathan Willis
March 10 2009, 10:35AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

He is CERTAINLY not as good as the new guy…and since, by your own definition, he’s ONLY decent with Hemsky (reminds me of the ‘fire hydrant’ line from about 1981), where does he play? He doesn’t hit, doesn’t skate, doesn’t kill penalties…so what does he bring?

21 goals for, 5 against. That isn't decent, that's extraordinary. When you score four times as many goals as the other guy, you win hockey games.

Here's what Dustin Penner brings: he scores more goals than the other team does. That's how you win hockey games, folks.

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#147 Rick
March 10 2009, 10:50AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

This isn’t necessarily about defending Penner. It’s about looking at MacTavish’s bench management. If Penner is the best LW on the team, than he should be playing the most minutes - something he hasn’t done all season. I love it when guys go “Penner was invisible tonight” and then you look at the time on ice and he only played 10 minutes. No kidding he was invisible - it’s hard to make plays from the bench. If Penner’s the best LW on the team, and you aren’t motivating him by scratching him, I’d argue there’s no better option than playing him. MacTavish seems to be allowing personal pique to interfere with icing the best possible team.

Of course the flip side of that is asking what part MacT plays in Penner statistically looking good.

MacT seems very in tune with how Penner is performing on any given night and is very quick to identify it. For the amount of time MacT seems to spend on discussing Penner you could almost make an argument that he is unfairly focussed on Penner, but it is what it is.

But here is the rub, what if he wasn't so in tune with how Penner was playing and he just kept rolling him out for 19 minutes a night, good or bad, strong play or indifferent play?

I suspect that Penner's stats look much different and the defense of Penner becomes much more difficult.

For all of MacT's faults, I think a portion of Penner's statistical success is due to good bench management by MacT. As hard as that is to fathom for alot of Oiler fans these days.

The situation isn't much different from having a successful 4th line. When a team has one, the advanced stats at the end of the year look pretty encouraging but no one is fooled into thinking that they are actually a 2nd line disguised as a 4th line, they recognize that the coach has largely done a good job at using them properly, giving them the best chance to succeed if you will.

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#148 The Towel Boy
March 10 2009, 11:11AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I love it when guys go “Penner was invisible tonight” and then you look at the time on ice and he only played 10 minutes. No kidding he was invisible - it’s hard to make plays from the bench.

Nobody would argue the fact that it's hard to be an impact from the bench. But at the same time, Zack Attack seems to get noticed pulling down roughly the same minutes. Maybe if Penner played with a bee in his bonnet more often he'd be less invisible.

...just sayin'.

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#149 MattL
March 10 2009, 11:14AM
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Willis, this might be one of the cases where just looking at statistics doesn't come close to telling the story. This whole team seems to be lacking motivation, drive, effort, jam, whatever you want to call it this year. Don't you think having the poster boy for apathy on your first line all the time might have a psychological effect on the team?

Have you ever worked in an office where someone was dogging it day in day out? It makes you want to do less work yourself.

Unless Penner is putting in 40-50/season, you just can't reward a total lack of caring and commitment to the team.

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#150 Jonathan Willis
March 10 2009, 11:26AM
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Rick wrote:

For all of MacT’s faults, I think a portion of Penner’s statistical success is due to good bench management by MacT.

I'll bet the reason Penner is getting scratched so often is that he wasn't effusive enough in his praise for MacTavish running him as the RW of a third line featuring Moreau at left wing and Pisani at centre.

Good lord, no wonder Penner looks so great statistically. Who wouldn't on that line?

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