Bob Stauffer is reporting today on the Oilers Now radio show, that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will not be in the line-up for their game against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. In my mind there are two reasons for this decision by the coaching staff.
1) There is no rush to get him into the line-up even though Hopkins passed Tom Rennie’s skating test with little signs of any drop-off in performance. The Oilers are not fighting for points right now while sitting in 29th in the league. Better to be safe than sorry.
2) Phillipe Cornet is still here and I believe they would like to give him another game as he got a point when only playing barely more than 10 mins in his first NHL game on Tuesday against the Avalanche. And, he is being rewarded for his great season thus far in OKC. I think that are trying to asses whether Cornet has what it takes to be a top six forward in the NHL. If he is, it might effect they way they approach the 2012 Draft.
It is extremely likely that Hopkins will play on Saturday vs. the Detroit Redwings. With The Nuge back from injury, this bodes well for the Oilers PP production. Hopefully this will allow Belanger to sit during the PP. I get he (Belanger) scored the other night, and it was a nice goal too, but all he has been good for is winning the face-off. After that, he’s been a bust with the extra man. If Hopkins can start improving his face-off skills, Belanger in my opinion should not be seeing any PP time moving forward.
I am actually excited to go to the rink on Saturday night to watch RNH and see how he does coming off an injury. If I were to make a prediction, I would say that he will score on the PP. The game Saturday is the late game on HNIC and if you look back, he is successful on Hockey Night In Canada.
On another note… Cam Barker will have to wait until Saturday to get back on the ice as well. With Barker back, who do you think will come out of the line-up? Peckham? Sutton? Petry? Potter? it’s a hard one to predict for sure. I am going to say it will be Potter, and only because he struggled against the Avalanche and did not have a good night at all in that game. If not Potter then it would have to be Peckham for my money. I would hate to see a gamer like Sutton benched just to get Barker in the line-up.
I have asked in the poll down on the right of this page, what you the caring Oilers fan would like to see more down the stretch…wins or a higher draft pick that losses will surely guarantee. People that I have personally asked this question over the last few weeks, all want some sort of hybrid answer like…”as long as the effort is there, wins don’t matter to me.” I phrased the question such that you have to get off the fence and make a choice as to what you want more. Of course I want wins, it sucks watching losses when you have bled (literally) for this team. I am just trying to take the temperature of readers on where they sit now that the play-offs are out of the question. Where do you stand?
Go Oilers Go!
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