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.

  • Big Deal

    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.

  • cremps

    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…

  • Gord

    @ 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.

  • shakey

    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?

  • Sing A Song For SingSing

    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.

  • Sing A Song For SingSing

    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.

  • RBK

    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

  • Oilersordeath

    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!!

  • Gord

    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?

  • Jason Gregor

    @ 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.

  • "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.

  • MCG

    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.