SUN Hockey Pool

MacTavish makes Penner, Brodziak healthy scratches

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

It's rather ironic, isn't it, that Dustin Penner's ironman streak came to an end because he doesn't have enough steel in his game?

A healthy scratch last night against Colorado, Penner and fellow popcorn eater Kyle Brodziak are the first two Oilers to be called out publicly for their lack of passion and intensity -- but Craig MacTavish says they won't be the last.

"It's those two guys tonight, but it could have been a couple other guys as well," said the coach, who believes too many players have floated through the first six weeks of the season.

"We need more jam and competitiveness from those two for sure, and others.

"Sometimes it's not only a message for the two who are sitting out, but the other four or five guys."

Penner, with four points and four penalty minutes in 16 games (two of those points coming in the first game of the season) has been invisible all year.

Brodziak, saddled with lesser linemates and less ice time, has three points and two penalty minutes.

"You can't afford to have a game where you're not a factor," said MacTavish.

MEDIOCRITY

"You have to find a way to be a factor. We're too good a team in my mind right now to just be accepting of mediocrity."

Penner has enormous size and skill, but seems content to do just enough to get by.

"It's always the bare minimum," said MacTavish. "Those are the results you get when you bring the bare minimum. Hopefully this will help him be more consistent."

Penner, sitting out after 180-straight games, was in no mood to talk about it after yesterday's morning skate.

"You're never happy with it but you have to learn from it," he said, adding his on-ice conversation with MacTavish was very brief.

"We talked on the ice. It was a short conversation. He said 'We need more from you.'"

HASN'T HAPPENED

Penner had been told long ago what the coaching staff wants him to do -- "just compete more" -- but it hasn't happened.

He isn't generating points like a $4.25 million US per-year player should, nor is being as physical as a six-foot-four, 245-pounder should be.

"I have to be more productive offensively," he said. "Four points doesn't cut it."

There is plenty of mediocrity to go around, though, plenty of Oilers who've turned big ice time into laughable totals.

Take away the 17 PIMs he took for not being tied down in Vancouver and Erik Cole (before last night) had five points and 10 penalty minutes in his other 15 games as an Oiler.

In addition to Penner and Brodziak, Robert Nilsson, Fernando Pisani, Andrew Cogliano, and Marc Pouliot also have five or fewer points and eight or fewer penalty minutes, begging the question: exactly what are they bringing to the battle?

"The bottom line for me is we're a better team than we have been in a number of years, and mediocrity is not going to cut it," said MacTavish. "We need high-level performance and we need intensity. It's a mental trait. You decide you're going to bring intensity.

"If you decide you're not going to bring it consistently, then it's out of my hands."


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