RNH: HELP IS ON THE WAY

Robin Brownlee
October 03 2013 10:31PM

Having spent not one minute in medical school, you can pass off what my eyes are telling me as rank speculation, but I'd be surprised beyond words if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn't ready to play when the Edmonton Oilers open a six-game road trip in Toronto Oct. 12.

It's entirely possible, as I suggested today on Twitter, that Nugent-Hopkins and his surgically repaired shoulder will be medically cleared before then and he could see action as early as Monday against New Jersey, although a return Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens at Rexall Place seems a more likely bet.

There hasn’t been one word regarding a definite return date from Nugent-Hopkins, coach Dallas Eakins or Edmonton's medical staff, but after RNH took a skate today that included full contact on the ice – he's been taking controlled contact off the ice for a couple of weeks – it looks from where I sit like fans are about to get some good news.

Am I being too optimistic in pegging RNH's return by the start of the road trip? Maybe, but I don't think so based on similar cases and what I've seen over years watching the Oilers rehab players who are coming back from the same type of shoulder surgery RNH had last April.

SOON ENOUGH . . .

While neither RNH nor Eakins offered up anything concrete today, and a return date could be a moving target based on how the shoulder reacts to stepped up contact, I'm confident No. 93 will be back, as I've written before, closer to Oct. 1 than Nov. 1. The question now is how much closer? Mark me down for Oct. 10.

"We’ve been trying to bring him along slowly but he’s been active in some drills. Maybe not as active," Eakins said today.

"The other thing that happens in practice, too, is that because he’s been a part of our group every day, the other players forget. They don’t think, 'Hey, maybe not so hard on him,' but the guys were competing pretty hard and he was right in the middle of it today.”

If Nugent-Hopkins can stay in "the middle of it" for another week without any pain or swelling, and with Sam Gagner already skating with a full face-shield on to protect his busted jaw, there is reason for optimism – timely, after watching the Oilers cough up a two-goal lead in a 5-4 loss to Winnipeg on opening night.

My guess is you'll get the first half of any news regarding RNH and Gagner by the time the Habs come calling Thursday. Stay tuned.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 k
October 04 2013, 01:08PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

If you find yourself fixating on Hall's turnovers, you're overthinking the situation.

While Hall needs to work on reducing turnovers in his game, just as every player should, those turnovers are a product of puck possession and his attempt to make plays. That should be obvious.

I'll take a player with Hall's point production and ability to create plays and drive the attack who turns it over once in awhile ahead of a safe player who never gives it away but produces nothing any day.

Yup, that Lindy Ruff character is a real over-thinker.

RNH has greater puck possession minutes than Hall per game and has spent less then half the playing time in the NHL.All Hopkins does is make intelligent plays.

Until Hall takes full responsibility and works on protecting the puck he will be this type of player is entire career.

Hall doesn't need anymore enabler's.

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#52 Scott in Grande Prairie
October 04 2013, 01:09PM
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Hat-tip to you, Robin, along with Jim Matheson.

If I'm not mistaken, both of you suggested that RNH looked like he'd be back earlier than the "mid-to-late-November" timeframe we were hearing/reading from the media down east. I recall a Tweet from Matheson saying that the puck looked like it was firing off of RNH's stick with some extra snap.

It's funny reading the reports from TSN/Sportsnet/other Toronto media today "breaking" this story when you guys definitely had it a day or so into training camp. Kudos.

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#53 rob
October 04 2013, 01:58PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Indications that RNH was progressing well ahead of schedule have been there for a long time -- since he was seen firing the puck with a lot of mustard on it several weeks ago. Jim Matheson of the Journal commented on it at the time, as did I.

Follow that up with bits and pieces and reports from guys like Bob Stauffer and Jason Gregor, who are at the rink all the time and have watched the recovery first-hand, and the timetable of RNH's return wasn't all that difficult to call.

hey Robin,now that RNh is coming back,if you were the coach(I know we all try to be armchair gm/coach)would you scrammble the lines a bit and get jousnuu with hall,gadzik with Rnh and have mabey brown on fouth,i know this seems dumb but I would love to see the oil have some toughness on all the lines?

hemsky-hall-jousnuu eberle-rnh-gadzick perron-gordon-yaks smyth-arcs-brown

Just some toughness through the line up-do you think this would help or hurt?

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#55 geoilersgist
October 04 2013, 02:42PM
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Sweet baby NUGE is coming back

#SQUEEEEE

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#56 Dan 1919
October 04 2013, 03:40PM
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rob wrote:

hey Robin,now that RNh is coming back,if you were the coach(I know we all try to be armchair gm/coach)would you scrammble the lines a bit and get jousnuu with hall,gadzik with Rnh and have mabey brown on fouth,i know this seems dumb but I would love to see the oil have some toughness on all the lines?

hemsky-hall-jousnuu eberle-rnh-gadzick perron-gordon-yaks smyth-arcs-brown

Just some toughness through the line up-do you think this would help or hurt?

Unless Hall has a stand-out game positionally speaking against Van tomorrow, he will go back to left wing as the Oilers don't have enough depth there and aren't gaining enough to leave him at centre.

That means when the musical chairs are done, Gazdic, Smyth or Brown will be scratched. As of last game it should be Smyth, but it will likely be Brown or Gazdic.

(Hall, RNH, Hemsky) (Perron, Arco, Ebs) (JJ, Gordon, Yak) (Gazdic/Smyth, Acton, Brown)

Unless they're on a mission to have RNH and Hall as their long term centres. Then Arcobello and Acton are battling for a spot... (Smyth, Hall, Hemsky) (Perron, RNH, Ebs) (JJ, Arco, Yak) (Gaz, Gordon, Brown)

It will be interesting to see what happens with Smyth because if he puts on a dido performance of the opener, it will be hard to justify scratching someone else to keep him dressed as Gazdic and Brown both played an excellent 4th line roll. Based on my guesses, Smyth should hope Hall stays centre.

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#57 westcoastoil
October 04 2013, 04:20PM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

Unless Hall has a stand-out game positionally speaking against Van tomorrow, he will go back to left wing as the Oilers don't have enough depth there and aren't gaining enough to leave him at centre.

That means when the musical chairs are done, Gazdic, Smyth or Brown will be scratched. As of last game it should be Smyth, but it will likely be Brown or Gazdic.

(Hall, RNH, Hemsky) (Perron, Arco, Ebs) (JJ, Gordon, Yak) (Gazdic/Smyth, Acton, Brown)

Unless they're on a mission to have RNH and Hall as their long term centres. Then Arcobello and Acton are battling for a spot... (Smyth, Hall, Hemsky) (Perron, RNH, Ebs) (JJ, Arco, Yak) (Gaz, Gordon, Brown)

It will be interesting to see what happens with Smyth because if he puts on a dido performance of the opener, it will be hard to justify scratching someone else to keep him dressed as Gazdic and Brown both played an excellent 4th line roll. Based on my guesses, Smyth should hope Hall stays centre.

I like the idea of moving Hall back to LW - the only switch perhaps to the lines above might be to flip Gordon and Arco. That would leave JJ, Arco & Yak the to feast on the soft parade.

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#58 csaw84
October 04 2013, 05:49PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Indications that RNH was progressing well ahead of schedule have been there for a long time -- since he was seen firing the puck with a lot of mustard on it several weeks ago. Jim Matheson of the Journal commented on it at the time, as did I.

Follow that up with bits and pieces and reports from guys like Bob Stauffer and Jason Gregor, who are at the rink all the time and have watched the recovery first-hand, and the timetable of RNH's return wasn't all that difficult to call.

Yeah, although I stated it poorly in response to brassmaster, that was what I was implying. It certainly doesnt seem like the Oilers are 'rushing' him in to fill a positional hole. All reports from the likes of yourself, Gregor, Stauffer, etc. have pointed to an early arrival based on RNH's progress rather than the Oilers rushing him.

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#60 k
October 04 2013, 06:41PM
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It matters not whether Nuge returns Oct 10th or Nov 10th because the Oilers are not close to being a playoff team. They simply have too many holes throughout their lineup.

4 years into the re-build and we have Ryan Smyth on the 1st line, we have named no less than 6 alternate captains and the coach believed there were others that were deserving, that almost had me throwing up in my mouth.

For a team that has played as soft as the Oilers over the past number of years one of their biggest problems is they don’t have an identity, they often play with fear and fold-up quicker than a cheap polyester suit when the going gets tough.

The culture that has existed in that locker room is toxic and as long as some of the core veterans remain I’m afraid that we’ll stay on the periphery despite drafting 1st overall three years running.

Many here at Oiler Nation believe that because they have been able to draft top prospects that other prospects and quality NHL players would be jumping at the opportunity to come aboard. That my friends isn’t going to happen very often, Schultz signed but others will simply move on to other teams.

It’s a little discerning when Jesse Joensuu is the best Oiler forward on opening night. The Oilers will probably finish ahead of the Flames in their division but not by much. MacT simply couldn’t get enough deals done, We are the worst run organization in hockey today, sorry Florida.

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#61 Avatarget
October 04 2013, 06:47PM
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How about putting Yakupov together with Nuge. It just seems like a match that was meant to be...Nuge as the setup man and Yak as the trigger man. This is a combo that I think could pay large dividends.

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#62 Avatarget
October 04 2013, 06:54PM
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Just to throw another thought out there...have the Oilers ever given much thought to trying Eberle out at center. He is a bit smallish for the corner work a winger needs to do and he is certainly a good enough playmaker to do the job. It just seems to me he might be better suited skillwise to make the transition from the wing to center than Hall is. I have never heard anyone discuss this possibilty and am curious what the Nation thinks of it.

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#63 YFC Prez
October 04 2013, 06:55PM
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@k

In your first paragraph you state that it doesn't matter RNH returns, because the oilers have too many holes. (a symptom of RNH's injury)

Second paragraph you raise concerns about Smyth being on the first line. (another symptom of RNH's injury)

My question is if the symptoms of RNH's injury is too many holes in the lineup and having Ryan Smyth play 1st line minutes how does it not matter when he returns.

You really don't think the oilers will greatly benefit from having the Nuge back?

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#64 k
October 04 2013, 07:27PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

In your first paragraph you state that it doesn't matter RNH returns, because the oilers have too many holes. (a symptom of RNH's injury)

Second paragraph you raise concerns about Smyth being on the first line. (another symptom of RNH's injury)

My question is if the symptoms of RNH's injury is too many holes in the lineup and having Ryan Smyth play 1st line minutes how does it not matter when he returns.

You really don't think the oilers will greatly benefit from having the Nuge back?

Nuge is their best player and make no mistake about that. But he isn’t going to make them a contender because he had surgery on his shoulder. It’s the lack of depth that allows for a Ryan Smyth to be awarded 1st line minutes.

I spoke out often against Smyth returning to the Oilers three years ago, the experiment has been a disaster on all levels.

If you’re a prospect or a quality NHL’er would you sign with the Oilers? Most wouldn’t/don’t – have you ever wondered why not

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#66 Tom
October 04 2013, 07:58PM
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k wrote:

It matters not whether Nuge returns Oct 10th or Nov 10th because the Oilers are not close to being a playoff team. They simply have too many holes throughout their lineup.

4 years into the re-build and we have Ryan Smyth on the 1st line, we have named no less than 6 alternate captains and the coach believed there were others that were deserving, that almost had me throwing up in my mouth.

For a team that has played as soft as the Oilers over the past number of years one of their biggest problems is they don’t have an identity, they often play with fear and fold-up quicker than a cheap polyester suit when the going gets tough.

The culture that has existed in that locker room is toxic and as long as some of the core veterans remain I’m afraid that we’ll stay on the periphery despite drafting 1st overall three years running.

Many here at Oiler Nation believe that because they have been able to draft top prospects that other prospects and quality NHL players would be jumping at the opportunity to come aboard. That my friends isn’t going to happen very often, Schultz signed but others will simply move on to other teams.

It’s a little discerning when Jesse Joensuu is the best Oiler forward on opening night. The Oilers will probably finish ahead of the Flames in their division but not by much. MacT simply couldn’t get enough deals done, We are the worst run organization in hockey today, sorry Florida.

You're an idiot.

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#67 k
October 04 2013, 08:12PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You want attention so badly that even negative reaction to comments you make -- and they're obviously intended to garner exactly that -- will do?

"It matters not whether Nuge returns Oct 10th or Nov 10th because the Oilers are not close to being a playoff team."

" . . . that almost had me throwing up in my mouth."

" . . . they often play with fear and fold-up quicker than a cheap polyester suit when the going gets tough."

"That my friends isn’t going to happen very often, Schultz signed but others will simply move on to other teams."

Your premise that the return of RNH doesn't matter tells me you are either remarkably clueless or desperately seeking attention. My guess is the latter.

You want attention;

There are 7 teams in our division, if the Oilers finish any higher then 6th I will never post again on this site.

If the Oilers however do finish either 6th or 7th in this division you will install a new windshield free of charge, no questions asked.

Never once did I imply that Nuge doesn’t matter, what I actually said is he’s the Oilers best player.

You wanna be a tough guy, put up or shut up.

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#68 Dan 1919
October 04 2013, 09:05PM
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@k

The fact that you mentioned the Flames in your plea for attention and your blatant ignorance of Oilers hockey makes me wonder if you're a Flames fan trolling the blogs.

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#69 The Last Big Bear
October 04 2013, 09:23PM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

The fact that you mentioned the Flames in your plea for attention and your blatant ignorance of Oilers hockey makes me wonder if you're a Flames fan trolling the blogs.

Hold on, there...

*I'M* a Flames fan trolling these blogs.

^That^ guy is just an idiot.

And as mentioned in previous discussions on the topic, I am also a medical doctor who is at least passingly familiar with shoulder stabilization surgeries. And my prediction was that RNH's shoulder would be ready to start the season, but the player himself would not be. And I believe my prediction stands up well to the facts so far.

Of course RNH returning is crucial for the Oilers. But I still think the Flames and Oilers finish neck-and-neck out of the playoff picture.

There are 25 minutes each game where the Oilers should have a set of 1st pairing defensive studs out there, but they don't because those players are not on the roster. That's not something you can fake, or wave away by talking about 'committees'.

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#70 Dan 1919
October 04 2013, 09:25PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

With winger Ryan Hamilton being recalled today you have to think that Taylor Hall will stay at centre.

My guess is that puts Arcobello in the press box or back in OKC. Will Acton seems better suited to be a fourth-line centre behind Hall, RNH and Boyd Gordon than Arcobello does.

If Arco is scratched on the account of RNH returning, that doesn't affect LW R.Hamilton. Is he just being brought up as a pre-caution incase someone gets injured in warm ups or are there changes coming to the LW (or even RW)?

I think Acton serves as a better 4th liner too.

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#71 Dan 1919
October 04 2013, 09:29PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Hold on, there...

*I'M* a Flames fan trolling these blogs.

^That^ guy is just an idiot.

And as mentioned in previous discussions on the topic, I am also a medical doctor who is at least passingly familiar with shoulder stabilization surgeries. And my prediction was that RNH's shoulder would be ready to start the season, but the player himself would not be. And I believe my prediction stands up well to the facts so far.

Of course RNH returning is crucial for the Oilers. But I still think the Flames and Oilers finish neck-and-neck out of the playoff picture.

There are 25 minutes each game where the Oilers should have a set of 1st pairing defensive studs out there, but they don't because those players are not on the roster. That's not something you can fake, or wave away by talking about 'committees'.

Please continue Doctor.

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#72 Don W
October 04 2013, 09:51PM
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When Nuge comes back Arcobello will sit and Hall will keep playing centre until Gagner is back. I would like to see Perron with Hall and Hemsky and Smyth with Nuge and Ebs. I think it would be a better fit.

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#73 David S
October 04 2013, 10:32PM
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k wrote:

You want attention;

There are 7 teams in our division, if the Oilers finish any higher then 6th I will never post again on this site.

If the Oilers however do finish either 6th or 7th in this division you will install a new windshield free of charge, no questions asked.

Never once did I imply that Nuge doesn’t matter, what I actually said is he’s the Oilers best player.

You wanna be a tough guy, put up or shut up.

If you wanna be a tough guy instead of an internet poser, maybe put up something of equal value.

Just sayin'.

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#75 Cowbell_Feva
October 05 2013, 04:12AM
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I think people mis-understood me. I think Taylor Hall is an unbelievable talent. I was just giving a few examples of bad turnovers in Game1. I am not a Dubnyk fan, so yes he should have stopped a lot of the pucks that tickled twine. Thats another story.

All I was saying, is that Hall doesn't seemt to see the ice the same way the elite NHL stars do. I rarely ever see Crosby or Datsyuk of Ovie get levelled. Hall sees as much snow as Hartnell. He's gifted physically. He produces when healthy. I am just worried that he won't be able to have a long career if he continues to get belted around game in game out.

As for Crosby....he got blind sided in the outdoor games a few years back then took a puck in the chops....hardly not having your head up.

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#76 Reagan
October 05 2013, 07:19AM
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Watch the Oilers roll him out tonight!

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#77 Thumby
October 05 2013, 09:04AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

David: How can we be sure "k" is an internet poser?

While "k" chooses not to attach his real name (or a legit email address or website) to what he says here, he might not be an internet poser or an insecure little dude craving attention, as I suggested. Maybe he's just shy or he's a really important person who doesn't want to reveal his identity.

For all we know, "k" might walk through the front door of my glass shop any day now -- I'm easy to find with my address being listed and all that -- and say, "I'm k. You wanna be a tough guy? Put up or shut up." Oh my.

Boy, wouldn't we feel stupid if that happened?

What??!! Brownlee owns an auto glass shop? What rock have I been living under?

My wife's Odyssey has a windshield that looks like a giant spider's web...I better go see RB ASAP!

Robin - what is your shop called and where is it? I will support the Nation in any fashion possible (as long as it benefits me too!)

;D

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#79 Reinman
October 05 2013, 10:50AM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

Unless Hall has a stand-out game positionally speaking against Van tomorrow, he will go back to left wing as the Oilers don't have enough depth there and aren't gaining enough to leave him at centre.

That means when the musical chairs are done, Gazdic, Smyth or Brown will be scratched. As of last game it should be Smyth, but it will likely be Brown or Gazdic.

(Hall, RNH, Hemsky) (Perron, Arco, Ebs) (JJ, Gordon, Yak) (Gazdic/Smyth, Acton, Brown)

Unless they're on a mission to have RNH and Hall as their long term centres. Then Arcobello and Acton are battling for a spot... (Smyth, Hall, Hemsky) (Perron, RNH, Ebs) (JJ, Arco, Yak) (Gaz, Gordon, Brown)

It will be interesting to see what happens with Smyth because if he puts on a dido performance of the opener, it will be hard to justify scratching someone else to keep him dressed as Gazdic and Brown both played an excellent 4th line roll. Based on my guesses, Smyth should hope Hall stays centre.

I think you just drop Smyth to the 4th line when RNH returns. SO you get Hall-RNH-Hemsky, JJ-Arco-Ebs, Perron-Gordon-Yak, Smyth-Acton-Brown

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#80 Reinman
October 05 2013, 10:59AM
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Don W wrote:

When Nuge comes back Arcobello will sit and Hall will keep playing centre until Gagner is back. I would like to see Perron with Hall and Hemsky and Smyth with Nuge and Ebs. I think it would be a better fit.

Arco was one of the few non minus players in the first game, and he got a point. I don't think it is fair to ship him off just yet. Put Hall back on the wing drop Smyth to the 4th line. If you give a player a chance, then play him until he plays himself out of that position. I don't think it is fair to any player to sit him when he comes in and plays well. It is very discouraging. Hell if he plays well enough, maybe when both centers come back, maybe there would be a place on the left wing for him.

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#81 Reinman
October 05 2013, 11:08AM
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k wrote:

Nuge is their best player and make no mistake about that. But he isn’t going to make them a contender because he had surgery on his shoulder. It’s the lack of depth that allows for a Ryan Smyth to be awarded 1st line minutes.

I spoke out often against Smyth returning to the Oilers three years ago, the experiment has been a disaster on all levels.

If you’re a prospect or a quality NHL’er would you sign with the Oilers? Most wouldn’t/don’t – have you ever wondered why not

Just to state the obvious. Smyth is playing top line for 2 reasons.

1. Eakins want 3 balanced scoring lines, which is something I support. Come playoff time, you want to be able to roll 4 lines.

2. Injuries - You are aware we are without 2 centers, and Hall who is our best LW, is playing center. Also Perron would be playing on that line if Eakins wanted to load up the top line, but he does not want to do that.

I agree the Oilers could use 1 more quality LW, but they don't have it. Maybe JJ can fill that spot when everyone is healthy. I don't like that -2 in the first game, but then again, it was only one game, and he did score.

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#82 Thumby
October 05 2013, 01:19PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Real deal automotive franchise, Bub. Been open for over a year now. If you're serious, it's Crackmasters Southwest. Look me up and feel free to call or stop by any time.

I've had many Nation members come to me and they all get a discount. They'll also be getting Nation stickers and other swag once I get my supply from Nation head office. The only condition is you provide your real name for the receipt.

Aha! So you are the one saying "Show us your crack!"...LOL...makes total sense now!

Now I guess I'll be one dropping the wife's van off...

Also - I've done work for Mike J your marketing manager...always good to deal with your customers!

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#84 Thumby
October 05 2013, 04:26PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Sorry, Thumby, you're thinking of Glassmasters, not Crackmasters. I've never asked anybody to show me their crack.

LOL - honest mistake!

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