Tom Gilbert played 26:33 last night. As long as Ryan Whitney is out, Tom Gilbert is going to have to play the same type of minutes night in and night out as he did last night if the Oilers want to have any chance of winning games. Even when Whitney comes back, Gilbert is going to have eat even strength minutes against tough competition and play big minutes on the penalty kill.
The average fan might not enjoy watching a subtle defenseman like Gilbert play the game, what with the lack of hits and such, but if they were paying attention last night, really watching the game, there's no way they can say Tom Gilbert isn't a very good defenseman. There is certainly no way they can say Tom Gilbert is a problem and maintain any semblance of intellectual honesty.
Tom Gilbert's stat line from last night's season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins:
Time on ice:
17:20 Even Strength
3:21 Power Play
26:33 Total TOI
1 shot on goal
2 blocked shots
His even strength time was spread against the entire Penguins' lineup, but he did see a whole bunch of James Neal.
Update: Jonathan looked at puck movement by the defense last night. His takeaway? "It’s also worth nothing how effective Petry and Gilbert were in this particular area."