Sunday, October 30, 2011

Just What The Oilers Were Hoping For

Now that the season has reached the ten game mark, it has become apparent that Lennart Petrell is the bottom six forward that the Edmonton Oilers have been looking to acquire for sometime. As the rugged winger becomes more comfortable with the North American game, you can see him starting to round into form. The Oilers have not had a fourth line with any sort of a dimension for sometime but the Finnish forward is doing his best to make that a thing of the past.

The former sixth round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets signed with Edmonton this off season because he felt he had a legitimate shot of making the club and getting an opportunity to play in the National Hockey League. His play during camp made it clear, the 27 year old was more then capable of being a role player at this level and the Oilers decided to give him his shot. The winger started the year as a healthy scratch for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins but made his debut in game number two and hasn't seen the press box since.

While Petrell and linemates Ben Eager and Anton Lander have seen limited duty 5-on-5, both he and Lander have seen regular time on the much improved penalty kill. In fact, the native of Helsinki has become one of the catalysts on the kill and has managed to block 11 shots through nine games. It is no coincidence that the Oilers sit fourth in the league with a success rate of 90.7%. The Finns shot blocking ability has had a huge impact in shorthanded situations and has been missing in Edmonton's arsenal since the departures of Marty Reasoner and Jarret Stoll.

The club has had bigger bodied players skate on the fourth line in recent years, example A being J.F. Jacques, but none seemed willing to go out and bang bodies on a nightly basis. A fourth line has to be able to go out and bring some energy and the easiest way to accomplish that, is to be physical. The 6' 3" and 220ilb forward has no issue engaging on a nightly basis and leads Edmonton forwards with 18 hits on the season. He keeps things simple and is fast becoming one of the staffs go to guys late in close games. The coaching staff clearly do not lack confidence in Petrell, as his ice time has been steadily on the rise. To start the season, he was playing in the neighbourhood of nine to ten minutes a night, with a large chunk of that being on the penalty kill. He is now seeing twelve plus minutes of ice time a night, with much of that extra time being 5-on-5.

If Lennart Petrell continues to play a simple game while doing the little things that coaches love to see from their role players, he will get his chance to show what he can do as a regular in NHL. Some players are unwilling to accept the role of a bottom six forward because they feel they can bring more to the table. Petrell fully understands his job description and is making sure that Tom Renney and his staff notice.

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