October 16 2011 08:20AM
Theo Peckham's always been a favorite of mine, a throwback to an era when the enforcers could also play. The young man played in the deep end of the pool a year ago and survived, suggesting his arrows were heading in a good direction. Early this season, the sun shines less bright on the career of a young man hired to do an insanely difficult job: clear the crease, battle giants and move the puck efficiently. What's up with Teddy Peckman?
By eye or by math, there's something amiss in #24's game. Men who play Peckham's style often have assorted injuries throughout a season, and although none have been reported I think it's at least possible he's playing through some kind of malady.
Last night, Dennis King's scoring chances tracked Peckham at 3-4 EV scoring chances while he was on the ice. Peckham's poor choice on an outlet pass was turned over by Chris Higgins and seconds later the Oilers were down 4-3 in a game that was lost due to a quick decision not to make the simple play. That's not really something we can blame on injury, it's more of a brain cramp than anything. Peckham has been sending grenades up ice since the start of the season, with icing, turnovers and broken plays the predictable result.
It's never been a strength of Peckham's (moving the puck), but last night (and through the season so far) his sorties have been wreckless and now costly. Added to that is the fact that a year ago Peckham was playing against tougher competition (with Tom Gilbert mostly) but this season looks less effective against lesser opponents. I think he's the likely candidate to be included out when Ryan Whitney comes available for action.
Peckham was on the ice for three chances against late in the HNIC game--one of which resulted in the fourth Canuck goal--and all three events were against the Hodgson, Higgins, Samuelsson line (the team's 2nd line). From what I can tell, coach Renney had Smid-Gilbert or Sutton-Potter out against the Sedins at even strength for most of the night.
Peckham's time on ice last night was definitely third pairing (with Barker, who got more TOI at evens during the game). He's going to play and play a lot this season in the physical defender who can also drop the gloves role (Peckham is 21st in the NHL in PIMS) and fills it very well, never turning down a fight and making the crease area a bothersome spot for the Burrows of the world.
However, of the scoring chances tracked last night for Vancouver and involving the Sedins and Burrows, the Oiler blue was consistently Sutton-Potter. Peckham's pairing was the de facto third unit, and his turnover late in the game led directly to a GA. Now, you can also blame Cam Barker for losing his stick (man he does that a lot) and not being able to clear the front of the net or you might also suggest that Dubnyk should have saved the shot (it looked like he was screened to me).
But that goal was on Peckham, sure as hell.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There are certain points in a movie or book, or any dialogue or story, in which the character's fortunes change markedly and is seen in a different way. Theo Peckham is a young NHL defenseman who entered this season with a secure job and miles of highway. His spotty play and last night's costly error may not be a turning point, but the Oilers and coach Renney do have some options.
Corey Potter played well, and the new hires Sutton and Barker have played well enough to avoid the pressbox so far. Jeff Petry is likely to draw in sometime this week and Ryan Whitney is close to ready.
I've always been a fan of Theo Peckham, he brings all kinds of toughness and works hard every shift. He's a homegrown talent and keeps the other side honest, important in a season when liberties will be taken by the opposition. There was a moment last night when Dale Weise took a run at Jordan Eberle and the moment called for an immediate response.
Cue Teddy Peckman. That's what I love about the guy, by the time we're thinking "hey, what the hell was that?" Teddy's already throwing haymakers.
But you have to be able to make the plays when it matters, to make the good decisions, to calm the waters. Theo Peckham is in some turbulent waters right now, I think he'll be asked to find a seat.