The Oilers Rig

In Defence of Petry

My motivation in writing this is not a familial relation to Jeff Petry, or that he holds photos of me having sex with prostitutes in Vegas. (I’ve never even been to Vegas, and my wife is more my style)

Las-Vegas

Jeff Petry is a good hockey player, full stop. This is in response to comments made by a reader of yesterday’s post. Follow along if you so decide…

As to who wrote this in the not so distant past I’m not sure, my memory fails me, but hockey is a game that is taught and played, in large part, through and by mistakes and not making them. If you make fewer mistakes than the other team you stand a good chance of winning the game. As a kid how many times did you hear a coach yell at you to “not turn the puck over at the blue line!” or ‘keep yourself between the net and the player!” or “don’t pass through the middle of the ice in your own zone!”. It is a big focus of coaches, at all levels, because if you limit those things the other team will posses puck less. The problem with this though, because many of us played the game our whole lives and the narrative of most hockey people is that of “look at that mistake”, when these mistakes are made we see them plain as day because they are glaringly obvious and we are conditioned to see them. What we tend to see less are the little things players do properly because they are far more subtle. Do you consciously notice a player positioning himself between the net and the opposing player every time? I don’t. Do you notice a D-man getting beat to the net from the corner? Every time. Which event happens more over the course of a game?

Do you consider a player who contributes to sending the puck in the proper direction a valuable one? Do you value physicality more than the ability to effectively move the puck? Do you value a guy who puts himself out of position to make a hit or one that holds position and uses his body when he sees a chance to separate the puck from the player, even if it isn’t a crushing hit? Which player is more effective?

We are surrounded by a narrative in hockey that unless you are in the mold of a Don Cherry style player, your contributions are not as revered unless you are elite. Jeff Petry clearly isn’t elite but I’d rather value him for the things that he does right, which can be quantified in underlying statistics quite effectively, than sh*t on him for the few mistakes he makes. When you’re a D-man playing over 20 minutes a night, pressed with the responsibility of distributing the puck to the forwards, while playing tough competition, you are going to have off nights and make some mistakes. He may not be Nick Lidstrom, but he is sure as hell going to do a better job than a guy like Theo Peckam, who could be fun to watch at times but isn’t a very effective hockey player. The same goes for Smid, he’s a little more fun to watch but my bet is that Eakins is going to trust Petry more in the long run (if he already doesn’t). He played almost 20 minutes at ES last game! Check out his stats line in the link to the NHL game report in my last post. He did a good job, regardless if you saw him get pushed off the puck. Chances are he is going to continue to do a good job.

Again, I value Petry for what he is. Temper, or enhance, your “viewing opinion” of him with some cold hard facts because it is all there for individuals to see. I hope Oilers’ fans start to reject the popular narrative and don’t run a guy like Petry out of town. If there is ever a chance to upgrade him in a trade I say do it, because who doesn’t want a Weber or Subban style player? But lets no hasten the move and devalue Petry with outdated, “saw him bad” opinions that grossly over value toughness.

I’ll say it again and again and again. Petry is a player.

3 Comments

  1. Taylor

    October 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    I actually think Jeff Petry has a much bigger ceiling than given credit for. His offense will come. I can see him being similar to Brian Campbell/Stephan Robidas/Lubomir Visnovsky kind of player.

    • borisnikov

      October 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      I like your optimism but I think those 2 of those comparables are a little lofty in terms of point production. Robidas is closer, but even then he’s a little more physical and not the same size as Petry.

      I think a good comparable would be someone like Eric Brewer. Bigger body, skates well, not a ton of offense but can move the puck and be counted on to play big minutes (in his prime at least). If that is ultimately Petry’s career arc I’d be OK with it.

    • borisnikov

      October 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      Dennis Seidenberg is another player that compares well in my opinion although it appears that he is a little more of a shooter than Petry.

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