The little men of the world always look like they’re putting out maximum effort (Tie Domi looked like he was passing a kidney stone in full stride), while men like Dustin Penner (with long strides that often look plodding) are easy targets based on visual evidence.
Which is why God invented math. Math helps us measure tangibles, like goals, assists, plus minus and the like. Advanced statistics (like Corsi and GF/GA ON) add color to the B&W of the boxcar numbers that have been available since the first hockey card.
By any measure, Dustin Penner is a useful hockey player. He has scored 37 goals in his almost two seasons in Edmonton, a number that trails only Ales Hemsky (41) during that time. Dig a little deeper and we see his Corsi is splendid (+8.3/60, best on this team), his GF/GA ON (36-28) is excellent and that he plays against some of the toughest opposition the Oilers have faced this season (while playing with good linemates–a clear recognition of his value).
Why then has he been sent to the pressbox by Craig MacTavish? Is it personal? Does the coach really believe two turnovers in one game merits a sit?
This could be worse: the organization could side with Penner and leave MacTavish as a sitting duck (ala Jimy Williams announcing Jorge Bell would DH) for the rest of the season. It could work out if the team goes on a winning streak. It might be the prelude to a “summer of blame” where the coach’s job is saved because these bad people poisoned the water hole (and will be removed).
However, it looks to me like a very smart man (Craig MacTavish) is wasting effort on something that doesn’t matter and could in fact hurt his job standing. If your employment is at stake, why on earth would you enter the fray shorthanded? The alternative explanation is that the Oilers keep their coach even if they don’t make the playoffs, which means no one season really matters for the Edmonton Oilers as long as the OBN keep their jobs.
Which makes us the Cubs.