THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER THING

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I’m not sure if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is playing banged up, if he’s worn down mentally or if he’s simply in the middle of the kind of slump every player goes through from time to time, but it doesn’t take a vast intellect to figure out he’s struggling mightily.

Maybe it’s a combination of all the above – pure speculation on my point because we aren’t hearing anything concrete from media travelling with the Edmonton Oilers – but RNH clearly isn’t himself these days. That was abundantly clear in Thursday’s 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Held off the score sheet again in a game where the Blues got around to beating the Oilers for fun like they always do with four goals in the third period, Nugent-Hopkins now has just two assists to show for the last 11 games he’s played.

RNH seemed particularly listless against the Blues and finished up 22.2 in the face-off circles to go with his bagels on the sheet. Still no wiz on the dot with percentages of 41.8 this season, 41.0 in 2012-13 and 37.5 in 2011-12, that’s lousy, even for him. He’s just 30.2 overall in his last five games.

Nugent-Hopkins, who has scored 15-29-44 in 65 games, started this 11-game slide by playing a season-high 25:51 against the Boston Bruins back on Feb. 1. He really hasn’t shown much since then.

TURN THE OTHER CHEEK

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The Oilers unwillingness to stand up for each other was on display again last night against the Blues and it really is getting sickening to watch them shrug their shoulders and turn away when a teammate is getting roughed up.

Taylor Hall drew a crowd, as you’d expect, when he directed a puck toward Ryan Miller on a play that was called offside. While Jay Bouwmeester and Vladimir Tarasenko were giving Hall the stinky glove treatment – Hall already had a busted lip from a high stick earlier – the Oilers offered a whole lot of nothing in terms of push-back.

Most notable in that was Justin Schultz, who stood around counting the crowd while Hall took your-mommas from the Blues. In that situation, players don’t have to drop the gloves and start a brawl, but they damn sure better get in the mix and stick their noses in.

It can’t always be Luke Gazdic or Matt Hendricks – how often are they even on the ice when Hall or RNH or Jordan Eberle are on? – wading in. Others, it’s obvious, are hesitant to do it. That’s the book on the Oilers and it’s a book every opponent in the NHL has read cover-to-cover.

WHILE I’M AT IT . . .

Nail Yakupov

. . . I’ve lost track of the number of odd-man rushes Edmonton’s power play has given up this season, but if fans took a drink every time it happened, they’d never make it off the floor. At what point will coach Dallas Eakins stop being stubborn and abandon his 1-3-1 alignment on the PP?

. . . Is it any surprise Nail Yakupov looks totally lost out on the ice right now? Coaches can draw up schemes until they’re blue in the face, but the learning process is cemented by what happens on the ice. Given all the Oiler breakdowns we see from players far more experienced than Yakupov, who is showing him how it’s done?

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

  • Lando

    This whole not standing up for your teammates is an internal issue. How many times have we seen trade rumors being reported by the team itself. The management coming out and calling out this player and that player? The management from Kevin Lowe down has no effin accountability!!! They’re here by virtue of being a solid group of players who won cups thirty odd years ago. They have done nothing in the way of instilling anything but a losing no accountability culture here. You’re supposed to trust and accept the fact that these are guys you go into battle with and none of them have learned it yet. Anytime there has been vocal players wanting to upset the establishment they simply trade them away. Look at Cogliano in Anaheim he calls out his team and hes applauded for it. These Oilers are a bunch of pansies who obviously answer go a guy who is basically a dictator in Kevin Lowe. He throws players under the bus and his crack team of coaches and managers have done the same.

  • toprightcorner

    I sure hope Eakins and MacT are keeping a close eye on the players who really have not interest in standing up for their teamates. Not everyone had to be a tough guy but just grab someone from behind now and then. It is the heart of a lion you want.

    Guys I think that Eberle, Schultz and Petry need to improve in this area or it would make sense to trade them for players who can fill our holes, increase size in the top 6 and get a bonifide top pairing dman. If the Oilers are able to get a dman that can QB the PP and also be defensively responsible like Josi, Yandle or Tuytin I think the Oilers should seriously look at trading Schultz as he would have a lot of value to fill a hole.

  • toprightcorner

    Couldn’t disagree more. If a team is not supportive of each other enough to stick up for them when the going gets rough and tough, how can they have the adversity, balls, determination, or compete to do what it takes to win games in the NHL. Playing a season is a war and each game is a battle, if you don’t stick up for your players it shows you don’t care and those thoughts infect a team like a virus.

    Boston lives by the mantra of nobody pushes us around and they thrive in that atmosphere. LOS, SJS, CHI, PHI, STL and TOR are the teams that show the trait of sticking up for their team mates more than most. The other thing they have in common is that they are all successful teams.

  • bazmagoo

    Have to disagree with you. I watched the Leafs – LA last night and the Leafs held their own and then some. Toronto plays an exciting brand of hockey and doesn’t get pushed around at all.

  • BobbyCanuck

    I think Hemsky’s point is the your top players must be you top players. Focussing on 3th and 4th liners can only have a marginal impact. Case in point last night, I think the Oil’s 2nd like was a combined -11.