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Nugent-Hopkins Continues to Shine

Oilers Beat Coyotes 3-2
The Edmonton Oilers continue to impress their fans through the pre-season, despite the fact that these games still mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has continued his point streak and has scored his first goal at the NHL level(ish), and looks to have some real chemistry with sophomores’ Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.

The Edmonton Oilers quickly took a three goal lead with goals from Nugent-Hopkins in the first period, and two from Taylor Hall in the second.  These players each had a point on each goal, so each had a three point night, not too shabby for a couple of kids.

This was Ales Hemsky’s first game since March, and an excellent opportunity for this senior Oilers player to see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in a game setting up close. “He looked impressive; he’s a good player… He’s a really smart centreman, he can feed the guys from the sides.” That may not seem like much, but from the often quiet Hemsky, that is high praise. On his own injury, Hemsky says “Overall I feel pretty good… The shoulder feels solid, so I’m happy about that.” Surely everyone is happy about that.

The Coyotes slowly but steadily made their way back into the game. With a goal from Ray Whitney (no relation to Ryan Whitney) in the second and a power play goal from Shane Doan in the third, many Oilers fans started biting their nails and hoping that Nikolai Khabibulin would be able to put an end to it all.

Taylor Hall felt that this was fairly close to a regular season game; “They had a lot of their d-core in. That was probably the fastest exhibition game I’ve ever played. There’s a lot of regular season like qualities to it a lot of chipping pucks in and not a lot of open ice. It’s just; to win that game just shows us that we’re getting ready to be where we want to be.” With both teams icing what will likely be their roster they start the season with, this was a good opportunity for both players and coaching staff to see where players are at.

Nugent-Hopkins looked confident on the ice and especially with his linemates. “I definitely felt comfortable out there with those three guys.” The comfort level helped him earn his 3 points and his first NHL pre-season goal “It was pretty good to get the first one… I don’t have it but somebody might have (kept it)” Not every goal can be highlight of the night, Nugent-Hopkins’ goal was a little tricky, and it looked as though the net may have come off its moorings. “It doesn’t really matter how it happens, so long as it happens.”

Coach Tom Renney spoke of the Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle line; “It was one of those combinations you always had in the back of your mind and you were going to get to sooner or later. There’s still others.” It wasn’t only Renney thinking of that line. One look at twitter today showed that Oilers fans were delighted at the prospect and during the game, with the results.

When asked specifically of Nugent-Hopkins, Renney was quick to give an indecisive response. “I don’t know if he’s got it all, I don’t know if he’s ready for the National Hockey League yet, but that’s why we talk about this body of work.”

Of his entire team, “We weathered the storm, and that’s good.” It is good, the Phoenix Coyotes didn’t let up after falling behind 3-0, and thankfully the Oilers didn’t either.

With two pre-season games left, Oilers fans should expect to see much more of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander; Sam Gagner is in a walking cast and is listed as week to week. That does not indicate a quick return.  Next up, the Oilers head to Minnesota to play the Wild.

If that’s too long of a wait, the Oilers have archived this game for your viewing pleasure:

 

Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, Taylor Hall, | Oil Patch | Permalink
 

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About Oil Patch

Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.

Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.

Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.

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