Renney’s Decisions

This is Ken Dryden. He was a massive goaltender for his era, any fool could see that if he was a good athlete (and he was) the big man should be able to stop pucks galore (and he did against everyone but the Russians).

I know Devan Dubnyk isn’t Ken Dryden. However, the young man has shown enough to see more action that he’s getting with the Edmonton Oilers. That fact married to the sometimes ghastly performance of  Nikolai Khabibulin–and consdiering we’re in a rebuild–makes little sense on any level.

If the Oilers are in a rebuild, it behooves them to see if DD can be the #1 goalie for the ’10s. If they’re not, then it still makes sense to know what you’ve got with the big kid when your future is sinking in the west (standings).

I think most people have been very patient with Tom Renney and the current coaching staff. That group has done some nice things in getting the big 3 rookies through the door and onto the scoresheet. There’s a pretty long list of guys who are on pace for solid if not career years, and I’d count Hall, Eberle, MPS and Peckham as being solid first year regulars under the Renney watch.

I also like his calm delivery in post-game pc’s like last night. There’s no sense ripping these young men in public, and no one wants a repeat of the MacT-rips-Penner nightly soundbites.

But we can’t deny the unusual decisions. Not playing Dubnyk, the inertia over the special teams and their performances, the benching of Stortini in favor of Jacques.

Renney’s handling of the defensemen last night is an enormous indictment of Kurtis Foster. With Ryan Whitney down early, here’s how the coach doled out the EV strength minutes:

  1. Tom Gilbert 24:13
  2. Theo Peckham 19:34
  3. Jeff Petry 18:58
  4. Ladislav Smid 17:09
  5. Kurtis Foster 14:52
  6. Ryan Whitney 3:48

In fairness, Foster did play 7:26 on the PP, but even with that it seems to me the coach showed a clear preference for Peckham & Petry over the veteran Foster. His performance this season doesn’t get the negative attention the has been bestowed (correctly) on Colin Fraser but conisdering position and lack of depth it may be more of a travesty. Kurtis Foster has overcome hardship one can only imagine and being critical of him at this time seems cruel and unnecessary. Suffice to say his play at even strength hasn’t been top 4 calibre. Last night, even considering the PP minutes, it looks for all the world like a new hire in his first NHL game was deemed the better choice by the coaching staff.

I’d argue that if the coaching staff doesn’t trust him Kurtis Foster should be sent away at the trade deadline. NHL defenseman always have value on that day, and it doesn’t look like Foster is a good fit for this team.

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