SUN Hockey Pool

Shift work fine for Oilers' Penner

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:53 PM ET

Dustin Penner didn’t take exception to his coach’s comments regarding the length of his shifts.

In this new Edmonton Oilers era, with a new coaching staff and a new approach, communication between players and coaches is no longer done through the media.

“I think with the coaching staff this year they’re very open to discussion and it’s a two-way street,” Penner said. “They want the best out of every player.

“I think my shifts are around 50 seconds. There have been a couple of kills when I’ve been stuck out there for about a minute and a half, and power plays are longer when you get out there. But I think five-on-five my shifts are right where they should be. As far as penalty killing and power play, maybe those can use some tinkering.”

Renney was responding to questions about Penner’s recent lack of production on Sunday when he suggested the Oilers winger might be better suited by tightening his shifts.

Penner scored three goals in his first four games this season, but has not been able to find the net in the five games since.

He’s been recently dropped to the third line with Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule, which early on is proving to be a good fit.

“Playing with those two guys, it’s a lot of fun, they’re both so fast,” Penner said. “They chip pucks in for the cycle and we work well off each other.

“When we get the pucks, we’re coming out of our zone with some speed and driving their defence back. It’s a lot of fun playing with them, we’re talking a lot out there and throwing pucks around.”

Penner credits the closeness of the entire group for being able to go through different line combinations with success.

The Oilers are in good spirits heading into their contest against the Vancouver Canucks tonight (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place, following their impressive win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and their annual Halloween party the following night.

“The room is pretty tight,” Penner said. “We’ve always had a pretty tight room around here. With the amount of youth though, there’s not that age-gap, it makes for a very tight room. We’ve built a lot of camaraderie, we haven’t had a lot of road trips, but in the last one we built some more. I think every day we get better in this room.”

That youth is part of the reason the Oilers have not lamented losses early this season and kept the focus on the next task at hand.

“I think it’s the naivety and maybe a bit of ignorance, not in a bad way, but you always think going into the next game that you’re going to win,” Penner said. “You’re not wondering what’s going to go wrong. I think with the youth we have, that’s the mindset of this team and the same with the coaching staff. Every night we feel as though we have a chance to win.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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