SUN Hockey Pool

Penner's energy crisis

Robert Tychkowski, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:27 AM ET

MONTREAL — At times lately, Dustin Penner looked like he’d hit the wall.

Or that he had one tied to his back.

The legs and lungs just weren’t there, and neither was the production.

After roaring out of the gate with 38 points in his first 33 games, the big winger had just 10 points in his next 30 games.

“In the second half he seemed to have less energy,” said head coach Pat Quinn. “He seemed to have an energy problem and seemed to be slowing down.

“It has been a little bit of a slide for him, not getting near the production that he did early.”

So dramatic was the change, the Oilers are actually wondering if Penner’s issue is health related. Quinn compared the drop-off to Mike Comrie when he came down with mono.

“We’re checking to see if there’s anything deeper with Dustin other than just the fact he’s at a stage where he’s has trouble dragging himself into the fray.”

Penner seemed to have more spring in his step Thursday in Montreal, notching an assist and hitting the post on a breakaway.

“I changed some things this week as far as off ice goes,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t put a finger on why you’re so tired. It’s one of those years where I’ve played the most I’ve ever played in my professional career. At this level it’s a lot of what you do off the ice and what you put in your body that you use as fuel. I’m paying more attention to that. As a professional you have to figure out a way to fine tune.”

He’s doing more cardio and fewer weights, and pounding pre-game apple juice for a sugar kick. Whatever works

“Hopefully what I did was the reason I had jump tonight. If I can feel like that for the rest of the season I’ll be happy.

“As the season winds down you have to find some positives in your own game. Everybody has to look at themselves and figure out how they want to be judged as a player.”

Whitney limping

Defenceman Ryan Whitney took a shot off the inside of his right knee late in the second period, hobbled off the ice and did not return for the third. He’ll be X-rayed and evaluated Friday. “He does have sparrow-type legs, there’s not much meat there,” said Quinn. “I always advise guys like that to get the heck out of the way.”

Late hits

Ethan Moreau’s stiff neck is getting better, but he still sat out Thursday night. “It felt OK, the last two days it’s been better,” he said. “I’ve had MRIs and the structure and vertebra are fine, it’s more muscle soreness. I’d like to play as soon as I can. Hopefully Toronto.” ... Patrick O’Sullivan lost the nail on his left ring finger after a first period slash Tuesday against Ottawa, but it’s not broken. He might re-join the team sometime on this four-game trip.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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