Oilers' Penner benched, ripped by MacTavish Staff/The Sports Network

11/17/2008 3:04:34 PM

It looks like Edmonton Oilers forward Dunstin Penner can get used to watching games from the pressbox. Penner was a healthy scratch on Saturday and, according to the Edmonton Sun, he's not going to play tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, either.

"He's not competitive enough or fit enough to help us, so why put him back in? He's never been fit enough to help us," Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish told the Sun. "We signed him to be a top-two line player and that's kind of where it ended. The difference was we thought the contract was a starting point, and he's viewed it as a finish line.

"It's been one thing after another. I can't watch it for - certainly not another two and-a-half years."

The Oilers signed Penner to a five-year, $21.25 million restricted free agent offer sheet in August of 2007 after he had scored 29 goals and 16 assists in his rookie season with the Anaheim Ducks. When the Ducks declined to match the offer, the Oilers thought they had a young power forward in the fold.

Instead, Penner has folded.  He did score 23 goals for Edmonton last season, but his conditioning was a problem.  This season, Penner has just three goals and one assist in 16 games.

"What we've seen is inconsistency, we need him to be a better player," MacTavish told the Sun. "You can't just continue to throw gratuitous ice time at a guy that is that inconsistent. Something's got to change.

"The frustrating thing for me is that he's got the game and he just can't find it. You have to put the work in. He's got the game. He's got a great set of tools, he just lacks the horsepower."

Penner acknowledged the problem.

"I have to figure out how to get back there and reapply myself to get to where they want me to be," Penner told the Sun. "But more importantly to where I want to be."

Edmonton comes into tonight's game against Detroit having dropped two straight and four of its last six contests. The Oilers did earn a point in their last outing, as they lost in a shootout to visiting Colorado.

The Oilers, who are 6-6-0 as the visiting team, are playing the first of two straight on the road tonight. They'll also visit Columbus on Tuesday night.

Edmonton has taken two straight and five of the last eight meetings with the Red Wings. The Oilers have also come out on top in two of their last three trips to Motown.