The hockey Gods have a lawn and, at some point, apparently somebody associated with the Edmonton Oilers stopped, dropped their pants and took a big, hearty, steaming dump on it.
I’m not sure how else you can explain a string of bad luck for the Oilers that now includes the loss of centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for anywhere between six and eight weeks with a hand injury suffered when he blocked a shot in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Monday.
Already leading the NHL in man-games lost due to injury – a stretch through 47 games that has seen the team forced to get along without Jordan Eberle, Connor McDavid, Oscar Klefbom and Nail Yakupov for extended periods – Nugent-Hopkins has returned to Edmonton. Coach Todd McLellan says the injury will keep RNH out “long term”, even if he doesn’t need surgery.
If there’s any semblance of a silver lining to the latest bad break for this outfit, it’s that the Oilers haven’t lost their minds and decided to accelerate the return of McDavid to fill the void. As previously announced, McDavid isn’t scheduled to return from his busted clavicle until after the ASG, and McLellan reiterated that today. Thank goodness for small mercies.
NOTHING BUT BAD BREAKS
With the Oilers somehow hanging around in the Western Conference playoff picture with a 19-23-5 record for 43 points heading into Tampa Bay tonight, I understand the buzz about the possibility of an early return by McDavid we read last night after RNH went down.
From Jim Matheson of The Journal: “Centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the latest through the revolving door to the infirmary and will be out for weeks, not days, after he suffered a suspected broken hand when hit by a puck while killing a penalty early in the second period Monday night.
“Now the question is this: should the Oilers hang tough with their decision to keep Connor McDavid out of the lineup until Feb. 2, after the all-star break, to give him more time to recover from his 2-1/2 month old collarbone injury?”
McLellan answered that question (and Matheson did a follow-up stating as such) this morning – while McDavid is with the team and skating, the Oilers will stick with their plan to keep him out until after the ASG. McDavid has already missed 34 games. “He’s not ready. He’s at risk of getting hurt,” said McLellan. And that’s that.
With Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid out of the picture, the Oilers are expected go with Leon Draisaitl, Mark Letestu, Matt Hendricks and Anton Lander at centre against the Lightning. Edmonton’s mounting injury totals include Eberle (13 games), McDavid (34 games and counting), Yakupov (22 games) and Klefbom (17 games so far).
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.
RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE