Which Penner Are We Dealing With Here?

There's a few things I'm eagerly anticipating for tonights (or at least this later afternoons) game against the Red Wings. In fact so much so, that in my absence from posting on this site due to the hustle and bustle of real life hitting me like a dump truck, I took a few mintues to share my thoughts.

Tonights game will tell me a lot about the new make-up of this team...

Which Penner Will We Get?

Dustin Penner by all accounts (if you're not a huge Oiler fan and watching every game) based on his numbers is having an alright season so far. In only 13 games played, Penner is on pace for 31 goals in an 82 game season and 44 points. The points category is shy, but 31 goals isn't something most fans would complain about.

The problem and the cause for some complaint amongst Oiler fans and media is Dustin's overall compete level from game to game. So much so, that trade talks have come up and teams like the Ottawa Senators have been rumored to have some interest.

With Shawn Horcoff still not ready to return, this is a chance for Dustin Penner to step-up his game. To be seen as a leader on this team with a lot of young rookies and show them that when one man -- an important one like your team captain -- goes down, the rest of the team needs to find another gear and get the job done.

That certainly didn't happen in Carolina.

Speaking of Young Guys

I'm extremely curious to watch how players like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle come out of the gate tonight. I've yet to question Hall's compete level. He's made rookies mistakes and often tried to do too much, but he's also often been the most dangerous Oiler even when not getting his name added to the score sheet.

The benching by coach Tom Renney can't be sitting well with a player of Hall's compete level. I expect the first few minutes of the game for both Hall and Eberle to be quite interesting. I think as rookies, they'll be out to prove a point.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that neither like the idea of Jeff Skinner in Carolina being looked at as the leading candidate for the Calder trophy. Skinner right now is running away with the race, but it's early.

Break-out game?

We've yet to see a break-out game by any Oiler. Last season, while players weren't necessarily consistently getting on the scoreboard every game, it appeared that way because players like Gagner, Penner and Hemsky had 4 point nights in some games. That's yet to happen this season.

I'm not suggesting that of all the teams for which to break-out, we can expect it to happen against Detroit, but someone might need to get themselves rolling. Could there finally be a game that sees one line earn 12-13 points in one game? That would be nice.


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