Re-thinking the left side

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.

  • 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. 😉

  • Kevin

    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.

  • Bruthah

    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.

  • Colin

    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

  • Gord

    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?

  • OilW30

    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.

  • 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.

  • RLH

    @ 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".

  • Cam

    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.

  • Rick

    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.

  • Adam

    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.