PAGING MR. PENNER

 

Dustin Penner took up a seat on the Edmonton Oilers charter flight for games on the road in Calgary, Columbus and Chicago, but the enigmatic big man didn’t accomplish much aside from occupying space.

While the Oilers got their attack revved up in the Windy City, Penner didn’t get a sniff on the score sheet in a 7-4 win over the Blackhawks at the United Center Friday, putting an exclamation mark on a road trip where he got next-to-nothing done.

Penner managed just one assist on a distinctly indifferent trip and that lone helper is all he has to show for his last five games, giving him 3-1-4 through nine games after a decent start. While it’s been noted Penner is lighter and more fit this season, he looks likes he’s carrying a piano on his back right now.

No need to start hammering on the Shying Fridge for one bad stretch because he’s prone to stretches like this, but numbers aside, the big fella doesn’t look very engaged in what’s going on around him right now. Fact is, I don’t recall three straight games when he’s looked as disinterested.

Is it just me?

TOUGH TO READ

Penner, 28, has always been difficult to read, so it makes no sense to guess what, if anything, is going on with him right now. He might just be caught in one of those inevitable down stretches every player has.

It’s a jarring juxtaposition, though, to see Taylor Hall picking up steam, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi continuing to impress and Andrew Cogliano getting his act together on the same road swing while Penner goes the other way.

Aside from getting little done around the net, Penner hasn’t been all that involved physically, as far as I can see. He’s not fighting through checks. He’s not driving to the net and raising hell. He seems passive. Maybe coach Tom Renney is seeing the same things — Penner played just 13:36 in Chicago.

I’m guessing this little skid will cause some people to look at Penner, what’s left of his contract and starting wondering out loud if maybe he should be traded. That’s already happening, actually.

Oilers Lunch host Bob Stauffer has made a few "what-if?" references to Penner the past few days on his show. If you’re looking at keeping Penner or Ales Hemsky around past their current contracts, which guy is the right guy? That sort of thing. Does Stauffer know something?

PARTING SHOTS

— Unless Hall missed the flight from Chicago after the game (he didn’t), he was back in Edmonton in the early morning hours and will be back in the line-up against Vancouver Tuesday for his 10th NHL game, meaning he’ll use up the first year of his entry level contract. Bulletin, bulletin, bulletin…

— Are Shawn Horcoff haters still taking shots at him now even though he’s off to a great start on what a lot of people think will be a bounce back season for him? Horcoff has 4-4-8 in nine games. Tell me again how he’s holding back the kids. I’m sure somebody will.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I think Penner is either sick or injured. If the latter – I’d guess groin. He can’t seem to find the puck in his skates or stretch to play the puck.
    Just my take, since he had good jump in the first two games, IIRC.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    Horcoff isnt holding the kids back, they bringing him for the ride. Jordan Eberle is running the team right now with his hockey smarts, board play, passing, etc… you could say theyre feeding off each other, but id wager that Eberle is stirring the pot for that line more than anyone. it shouldnt be about Horcoff – hes just doing his typical job but doing it in a better situation cause hes playing with an elegant/intelligent player.

    as for Penner, that dudes a drama queen. he wont get physical because he knows hes too damn slow and doesnt have the stamina to get back into the play if he spends energy-time throwing hits. its dead obvious anytime he gets near someone on the boards while the play is still moving that he opts to just put a hand on the guy and continue skating.

    whats wrong now for him to cause the disinterest? Mac-T is leaving him prank calls? his diapers didnt show up on time? 2 years of horrendous play, one HALF year of decent play and now this? he might be funny in a stoic way but the dude has the compete level of any typical “big nice guy”. everyone has a friend like that. they are so big and silly that they dont feel the need to compete their butt off cause they feel out of place, or uncomfortable using their size to their dominant advantage. Penner reeks of that. im officially done with him as a fan. the team will be far different in 2-3 years anyhow and his role will be of little significance in hindsight.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I agree with everyone that it’s basically frustrating and disappointing to see Penner not playing remotely like he did last season.

    He doesn’t look at all like last season’s “Penner Reloaded.”

    That being said, Penner’s still a very effective player. He’s versatile, let’s call him, “plug an play Penner” in that he can play on any line with anyone. Even at half speed, he usually makes any line on our team better…

    He’s durable as hell too, let’s not forget the value of that after the injuries to the team last season.

    Even without much aggressive play, he still adds some much needed size to our forward lines too.

    It’s still early, so let’s hope that Penner finds some of last year’s intensity.

  • bigguy13

    I think Penner is what he is and didnt see a huge difference in his game last year except for in point totals. Not surprising since Quinn was using him first line, first line PP and PKing. He got a ton of ice time last year. Plus as someone in the blogosphere pointed out he doesnt really work well with Hemsky. He cant keep up to those rushes and he does his best work holding the puck, controlling it along the boards. When Hemsky is on the ice he usually has the puck which takes away from Penners game and just leaves him the screening in front of the net task.

    He’s big and always looks slow. Because he looks slow it doesnt look like he’s giving much effort but that’s not his game. He doesnt throw out a ton of hits or throw guys around digging for the puck in the corner. If he gets it he can control it and generate plays like he did with Gilbert last night but he’s not a spark plug.

    Penner is a nice complimentary piece but he’s not a center piece. I dont think he works as a team leader or someone who take the team on his back and win a game all by himself. He’d be great on a contender playing with the right players and if we do trade him to a good team he’ll probably put up a ton of points.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    People, this thought that Horcoff is being force fed enough chances to have two times the goals at this point is flat out ridiculous.

    Look at the goal totals of Crosby’s linemates since entering the league.

    Do you honestly think Eberle is creating more “gimmies” for Horc then Crosby is for his wingers?

    • Cowbell_Feva

      If you think that it is Horcoff making the plays you need your eyes checked. I can honestly say he has missed at least 2 absolute gimmies, as well as some other great chances he should have cashed in on. So, it isn’t rediculous actually. Also, they have played only 9 games. If you think Horc’s is going to finish with 73 points then you do live on fantasy island.

      Death Metal Nightmare hit the nail on the head. Eberle is making Horcoff look way better than he is- Offensively that is. Hall is learning the NHL game which should only continue to give points to that line. Horcoff is just the benefactor, bottom line.

      However, how can you try to compare Eberle to Sid the Kid? I’m also confused when you say “look at the goal totals of Crosby’s linemates…” Are you trying to say he doesn’t contribute to their totals? Ask Bill Guerin if he helps. The guy is the best player in the world, of course he makes his linemates better.

      When people are saying he would have double the goals, I’m guessing there is some sarcasm built into the truth. But the fact remains, he does have zero touch around the net (ask Hemsky) and should have buried more than he has- nevermind his contract, that horse has been beaten dead.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        I bring up Crosby because theirs little to no evidence that he boosts his line-mates production…. and in some cases players numbers are far better without him.

        So, if he’s not boosting players numbers, I highly doubt Eberle is.

  • DimebagDave

    Penner is fine. It’s not a coincidence that Cogliano and Brule’s play picked up once Penner was moved to their line. Penner is the type of player who makes his linemates better, and he’s an extremely invaluable asset for this team.

    It would be awfully ugly without him, folks.

  • DimebagDave

    There is nothing wrong with Penner.

    Look at the play on the tying goal by Gilbert in Calgary. It is no accident that Cogliano and Brule played their best game as soon as Penner was back with them.

    And people overlook Penner’s strong defensive game.

    Although Penner can play effectively with Hemsky, Hemsky’s style is not conducive to Penner’s strength, and his visibility goes down, because he handles the puck less, and there is less cycling going on, since Hemsky plays a rush game, and plays the “dish” game, not the “give-and-go” game.

    Penner will look more like last year’s Penner now that he is back with Brule, who is a physical forechecker, adept at the give-and-go, with the ability to cycle.

    Frank Mahovlich always had his critics, a segment of people who never appreciated or understood his game. Penner gets the Mahovlich-lite treatment.

    The advanced stats work at Copper-n-Blue and The Cult of Hockey clearly demonstrate that Penner is a good hockey player and a valuable asset.

    • DimebagDave

      If somebody at another site says so, it must be true.

      I’d suggest, though, that implying people who criticize Penner — in this case for an underwhelming five-game stretch — do so because they don’t “understand” his game might be a bit presumptuous.

  • Zamboni Driver

    I can’t understand the free ride so many of the blind-faithers give Penner – I can only guess it’s because K-Lowe (he won cups, played with Gretzky, you know!) signed him.

    Shows up fat two years in a row – year #1 it’s, “Well he just finished playing for the Cup, can you blame him? What did you expect?!”

    Year #2 the coach says, “The contract seems to have been the end game for him.”

    Year #3 he shows up in shape, plays pretty well for a while, then hits the wall…which people say, “Well, what do you expect? He’s TIRED!”

    Year #4 – What’s the excuse this time?

    The guy is one of those professional athletes – we should expect anything less than prime conditioning ALWAYS….not have a parade when he actually bothers to have less of a spare tire than me…

    [cue the Koolaid Krew with “How do you know? Have you seen him?….and Horcoff deserves every penny.”]

    • Crash

      Free ride? What more do people want out of Penner? How much more is Penner expected to do?

      Year #1: Penner leads the team in goal scoring with 23. Why are people ragging on the teams top goal scorer with so many other candidates to choose from?

      Year #2: Despite MacT going ape wall on Penner and Penner’s ice time being limited to the point where 6 other forwards averaged more ice time per game than him, including O’Sullivan, Cole and Kotalik, he still manages to score the 3rd most goals on the team with 17 and he also leads all forwards in +/- at +7. Again, why are people ragging on him with so many better candidates to choose from?

      Year #3: He has his best season with virtually no help around him…he basically carries the forwards on his back, scoring 32 goals and 63 pts. He also has the 2nd best +/- amongst forwards at +6 (on a 30th place team) with only Hemsky being better at +7 (Hemsky only played 22 games). So what happens? Despite the great numbers and being the teams top goal scorer and scorer period, people rag on him because he went through a dry period on a last place hockey team. People here are never happy.

      And now here we are at year 4 and already the natives are restless and the ragging on Penner begins….despite that his ice time is down again compared to last year…there is much more balance in the lineup and other options and we’re only 9 games in. Penner is on pace for 27 goals…is that a problem? Again it seems people here are never happy unless they’re ragging on Penner.

      You can percieve all you want that Penner is lazy and he doesn’t give effort but all of these numbers he has put up over the last 3+ years here don’t happen by accident. He doesn’t consistently lead forwards in +/- and goal scoring by accident…

      Holy Bejeebuss, lay off the guy already

  • I’ve been a big Penner fan from the start, but the fact of the matter is the team has 3 LWs that are projected to play in the top 6 and only 2 RWs. All the wingers in the top 6 were drafted by the Oilers except 1.

    Penner was the sole bright light last season (until the draft), but if I was making the choice between Penner and Hemsky the deliberation would take no time at all. Hemsky is the choice to stay, IMHO.

    The guy is a big body that has the capability to score in the NHL. That has to have value in the league. At the draft when other teams only need about 1 million of space to afford his hit, he could be a hot commodity.

  • Penner would look good in Bruin colors.And Toronto’s first round pick would look good on us. Horcoff’s play has been admirable. EBERLE andD HALL are finding thier stride and thier play will decide Horcoff’s numbers this year as will Horcoff’s play will affect thiers. There is a definite incentive for all three players to perform. Penner. If there is someone out there who can figure out what motivates Penner he/she would thier weight in gold. Till then we get what we pay for with Penner.” A could have been”.

  • Crackenbury

    Why do people continue to devote so much time to discussing Horcoff’s contract? He’s playing well and doing everything expected of him. This team isn’t hamstrung by contracts. What difference should it make to anyone what his cap hit is? Who cares! Fans that continuously focus on a players contract as a point of contention while ignoring the actual play must not have an original thought worth discussing.

  • Mitch

    @Robin

    Would Tambellini consider Kaberle from Toronto for Penner? Addresses defensive help may even beable to move him at the deadline for a 2 or 3rd pick, gives Toronto some scoring help up front and they need to make playoffs.

  • Crackenbury

    Penner sometimes doesn’t “show up” but he always shows up. Last 4 seasons:

    06-07 – 82 gp
    07-08 – 82 gp
    08-09 – 78 gp (MacT’s lack of jam scratches??)
    09-10 – 82 gp

    The guy stays healthy.

    Talk of Penner inevitably leads to talk of Hemsky and who would be better to resign (assuming Oilers have that choice). Penner will get into most games, Hemsky, you never know.

    • Oilers89

      I take Hemsky no question, this year he looks like a leader, he has been playing his heart out pretty well every game. I can’t remember seeing Hemsky play like this ever, it looks like he got handed the captaincy and is absolutely running with it. People questioned Hemsky’s leadership when it came to discussions about who the captain should be, I can say now that after Horcoff, Hemsky would be the best candidate IMO. Plus it is nice to see Hemsky using his shot a little more this year, he has a good one and is cashing in. I do like Penner but he just doesn’t show up like Hemsky does. For me I take Hemsky even with his injury woes.

  • To the person posting as CalgaryMike:

    You’re officially causing a disruption to my day, so congrats. I rarely get called by our writers unless something particularly egregious is happening…

    You’re more than welcome to disagree with Brownlee. What you aren’t welcome to do is act like an abusive troll in doing so. And when a phone call to me is placed on Sunday taking my attention away from getting my shit together for a party that I’ve been planning, I’m not entirely happy about it.

    So, each and every comment you post here will be removed. Each and every IP you use to do so, even if they’re through proxies, will be banned. And if you’d like to email bingofuel@oilersnation.com, you can explain to my guests why my attention is being focused on the computer, and being taken away from this party.

    Also, feel free to email me if you feel like you’re not being treated fairly, or that I’m being unreasonable. We can discuss this that way. But this forum is not yours to sling shit on.

    All the best in your future endeavours,

    bingofuel – one of the guys who runs this place.

  • Crackenbury

    I love Horc, he has much to teach the younglings. How to take a faceoff. How to cover your own zone, how to outlet safely, etc. However, he is not converting the chances the kids are giving him at a high enough rate. He is currently converting on 1 out of every 9 glorious setups he is getting from the kids. However, he is also setting up the kids on a few nice chances, which they are converting on. This is the conundrum of it all. You can’t teach offensive flair.

  • How about a Jeff Carter for Dustin Penner trade? Carter’s name ALWAYS comes up in trade talks in Philly and we need a scoring center with size. Philly really wants a scoring winger, and based on Penner’s play last year, he could be the answer for them. It could be one of those swaps that helps both teams, in my opinion.

    It may have to also be something like Penner and Cogliano for Carter and maybe Zherdev or something else.

    Robin, what do you think of a possibility of a trade such as this one?

    • Shapeman

      I was think of a Penner for Carter thing too but the only way I oculd see this happening is if there is a hitch in his contract negotiations with Philly. Let’s hope!

  • so you know your way around the internet and your main goal is to look like a jack-@ss by trolling Oilersnation? There has to be something more productive you could do with your time than proving that you dont understand concepts like “all of your posts will be deleted” and “every IP you use will be banned.”

  • I’m assuming that you were replying to me, although who knows. You clearly know how to get around IP bans, but the reply button is a foreign concept.

    Minding my own business? I’m handing out candy for halloween and reading the very public comment section of a popular Oilers website. If this was a private discussion that accidentally went public, like Rishaug tweeting his phone number, then I should inform you that everyone can read and comment on this. Everyone.

    No, I’m serious. Like, pretty much anyone with an internet connection and computer can see it. I bet smart phones can get this site also. You’re probably so embarrased because you had no idea, but yeah. Totally not private.