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?
— 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.