CALGARY -- As much as the Oilers would like Ryan Whitney to play 30 minutes a night for the next 75 games, it can’t, and won’t, happen.
The club needs to find a way to be less reliant, not more, on their all-purpose defenceman.
Whitney leads the Oilers in scoring with seven assists, which is good, but he’s also sixth in the NHL in ice time per game (26:02), a stat they don’t want to see get much higher.
“For me it’s just about conserving energy and preparing yourself to play a lot of minutes,” said the 27-year-old. “I think I’ve done that. There have been games where I’ve played really well and games where I can be better. But no matter how you play, when you lose it’s disappointing. You can play well and you’re still not happy.”
Twenty-six minutes and change is doable for 82 games for Whitney, who was 14th in the league in ice time last season (24:45), but any more than that and it becomes a fatigue issue.
“It kind of depends on how many power-play and how many penalty-killing minutes you’re getting,” he said. “It’s a lot harder to be out there on the PK the whole game than it is power play, when you’re just moving across the blueline. I feel good right now, obviously it’s only been six games, but 25 minutes is really kind of no problem. It’s when you get up around 28-29 that can be when you start feeling it.”