PHOENIX — Depending on Sam Gagner's status, Edmonton Oilers head coach Pat Quinn has a couple of cards to play heading into Monday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
With 14 forwards to choose from, Quinn has some option when it comes to his lineup.
On Saturday, Robert Nilsson and Gilbert Brule were healthy scratches. Nilsson has sat out three consecutive games while Gilbert has been in the press box for the past two games.
“We’re going to have to look at our criteria as to who gets to play, and who need to come out, whatever it is,” said Quinn. “We might need to refine that, because here are a couple of young kids, who just on their skill level should probably be in the lineup.”
Having lost two straight and 15 of their last 17, the Oilers are already eyeing next season, yet they need to keep play some of their veterans in order to shop them around the league.
Even with them in the lineup, scoring has become a huge issue for the team, who’ve only managed to register more than two goals once in their last seven games.
Dustin Penner, who started off the year so well has cooled off and is looking very much like the same player who wallowed through the season last year and found himself in the coach’s doghouse. With a couple of extra forwards at his disposal now, it wouldn’t be surprising if Quinn decides to sit him out for a game or two.
“It seems like his confidence level is low,” Quinn said. “We talked to him two weeks ago and he felt his energy systems were off. We’re not sure what that means. When you’re not playing well, sometimes you start looking for some excuses as to why you don’t feel the same way. He doesn’t feel that pep that he had earlier on. We had him playing lots of minutes, but we thought we’d cut out the penalty kill and see if we could keep some gas in the tank, but that hasn’t seemed to solve the situation.”
Penner is looking sluggish, almost as if he’s in worst shape now than he was at he start of the season when he was dictating the play and driving hard to the net. It’s tough to remember the last time he cut to the net with a defender draped all over him. He has just four goals in his last 24 games.
On Saturday, Penner made a weak effort to get a puck that was rimmed along the boards by defenceman Denis Grebeshkov. It ended up on Ryan Wilson’s stick at the point, who beat Deslauriers with his long wrist shot.
“My feeling is (Penner) should have had that one,” Quinn said. “Grebeshkov makes a nice play, we still felt like we had a chance to score that one goal and if that happens, then who knows what happens?
“But from the bench it’s pretty easy to make those plays, I can make those plays pretty easily from the bench.”