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Monday Mailbag – What’s going on with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
11 months ago
Happy Monday, Internet, and welcome to another fresh edition of the Mailbag to help get your week started and break down all things Edmonton Oilers. This week we’re looking at the difference between playing Vegas and LA, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ cold streak, Stuart Skinner, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
May 3, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) is pushed into Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) by Edmonton Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci (5) during the second period of game one of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
1) Taylor asks – The Oilers seemed to struggle with Vegas’ aggressive forecheck in Game 1 after dealing with L.A.’s passive system in the first round. What do they need to do better in the future to make sure they adjust to what the Golden Knights are throwing at them?
Jason Gregor:
It was one game. Edmonton just needs to play with the speed and pace they had in game two. Overall they are a quicker team and showed it in game two. Play like that in game three and they should be fine.
Robin Brownlee:
Did you watch Game 2 Saturday? Oilers were quicker to the puck and far crisper in their passing. Add in Draisaitl and McDavid hanging fire and there’s your adjustment.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
They need their defenseman to be quicker with their decisions and Stuart Skinner to help a little bit when it comes to playing the puck. That could help set up their defensemen to move the puck out of the zone quicker. I think having a better counterattack would work wonders as well, as we saw in game two.
Liam Horrobin:
When putting the Golden Knights under pressure they need to close down space quickly and limit options. When they are defending the forecheck, they have to be more aware and move pucks quickly. Additionally, players need to make themselves available to receive passes. Overall, they need to make it easier for each other. I thought they did a good job of this on Saturday.
Baggedmilk:
After seeing a couple of games in this series now, I’m hoping that the Game 1 sloppiness was more of an outlier than anything. The boys didn’t look ready to play on Wednesday, but they sure as hell did on Saturday night. Huge bounce back from the boys, and you love to see the way they adjusted.
Apr 5, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Zach Hyman (18) celebrates his empty net goal scored against the Anaheim Ducks with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the third period at Honda Center. Nugent-Hopkins provided an assist on the goal. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
2) John asks – Simple: What’s going on with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? From 100 points to being a non-event.
Jason Gregor:
The 100 points was a perfect storm. It was 30 higher than his previous career best. I don’t expect him to produce over a point/game in the playoffs, but he does need to get more involved. He hasn’t been around the net enough thus far through eight playoff games.
Robin Brownlee:
I don’t expect that kind of production from him. He’s gone from an over-the-top regular season to a sub-par post-season. All players have difficult stretches. This is his. That said, there is lots of hockey left to play in this post-season.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I think we all knew that the heater from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would come to an end at some point, but it has been disappointing to see his impact drop the way it has. He’s not even making strong plays with the puck or setting up teammates, just flat-out struggling. Hopefully he bounces out of it soon, because his goalless playoff streak is about to hit ten games.
Liam Horrobin:
He just seems to be a man out of his groove. One thing he could do is shoot the puck more often. He only has two shots in his last three games and they both came on Saturday. Everything else seems to be still okay in his game but of course the offensive production needs to be better.
Baggedmilk:
My boy is in a little bit of a scoring slump right now, but I’m not going to worry until he stops getting chances. He’s had plenty of posts and quality looks through eight games but he just hasn’t stuck anything yet.
May 3, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) makes a save as Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) looks for a rebound during the second period of game one of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
3) Oilers fan in Van asks – Stuart Skinner hasn’t stolen a game for the Oilers yet in the post-season and I’m starting to worry about it. How much leash should Woody give Stu before giving Campbell a go between the pipes?
Jason Gregor:
I don’t think he has to steal a game to be honest. He just needs to be steady like he was in game two.
Robin Brownlee:
Like I said above, did you watch Game 2? Does Skinner need to steal a game or is simply playing really well like he did Saturday enough? It is for me. You? Team has been less-than-stellar in front of him at times.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I think going to Campbell should always be the last resort kind of move. They needed it for one game against LA and then they didn’t really face a desperate situation in that series afterwards. To go to Campbell, Skinner probably needs to be actively bad for another game and as of right now, he’s just been average. You don’t sit your starting goalie if he’s playing average and you’re winning.
Liam Horrobin:
To flip that, when are the Edmonton Oilers going to defend better in front of him? It feels like we are all expecting Skinner to make him for some brutal errors that are occurring in front of him. Obviously, there is a few that you would like to see back but it’s a team effort. In game one, Skinner made some big saves but we only want to highlight the negative. Game two was a positive one for him too.
Baggedmilk:
Stu bounced back with a beauty on Saturday night and I like that Woodcroft gave him the opportunity to do so. Stu is our starter and there’s no need to stop riding him now.
Apr 18, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) looks up at the scoreboard during the first period of game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
4) Michael E. asks – Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on Florida preventing Toronto-based fans from watching games in person in Florida? Part of the NHL playoffs fun are the road trips people take – should the NHL prevent teams from limiting who can buy tickets based on where they are from? Thanks for the thoughts.
Jason Gregor:
There was only a 24-hour window where TOR fans couldn’t buy tickets. I get why Florida did it, as they wanted to encourage their fans to buy first. Other teams have done this in the NHL and in other leagues. It is trying to ensure home ice advantage.
Robin Brownlee:
Sure. I’m fine with anything that aggravates, irritates and causes outbursts of angst with the most self-centred fanbase on the planet. With the series 3-0, the Panthers are about to make it impossible for fans of the Maple Leafs to watch then anywhere.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
It was fine. it was limited for a while because they wanted their local fans to have a chance to get tickets if they wanted to, I would hope the Oilers do the same thing if they made the Stanley Cup Final and played the Leafs. Alberta residents only for the first 24 hours would be a fine plan. Also, if people really want to go, they will find a way. There were still plenty of Leafs fans in the building for game three in Florida.
Liam Horrobin:
Yes and no.
A team like the Panthers doesn’t want their arena to be filled with blue jerseys. They have to find ways to get advantages and more fans of their own in the building is one of them. However, I understand the frustration with it but I do believe Leafs fans will find a way. Perhaps the NHL can give a certain amount of allocated tickets to the road team and fans have to buy them directly through their team, not the Panthers.
Baggedmilk:
I get it. Everyone hates Leafs fans.   Or should I make an alternate joke and wonder who bought tickets in Florida if not for Canadians?
5) Ed asks – The NHL rule book states “A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted.” Watching game 7 of the Devils/Rangers game when Trouba absolutely blows up Meir. Shoulder right on the chin. Yet no penalty. Does anyone have an explanation for this? What would this site be like if McD had taken the hit?
Jason Gregor:
Here is the wording for rule 48.
Meier’s head was not picked. Trouba had perfect form in delivering body contact. Meier’s head was down and that is why he got hit. Meier was fine. He got rocked, but the contact was to his head and chest. It helps that he is 215 pounds and he can absorb the contact better than most.
Robin Brownlee:
The explanation of the ruling isn’t hard to find. It was available through multiple outlets.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
He kept his arms down and never left his feet. Meier needs to have his head up to try and avoid that contact, it’s not on Trouba to just let up and possibly let a scoring chance happen because Meier was being careless.
Liam Horrobin:
The hit to the head was not avoidable. Timo Meier had his head down and Trouba couldn’t avoid it. It was an unfortunate result but a hit was the only play available for Trouba to make. Meier has to keep his head up in that situation. The rule book also says “Head contact may be permitted if unavoidable or if player’s body position contributed to the contact.”
Baggedmilk:
Head down in the trolley tracks, amirite? I think even Timo Meier would say he needs to do a better job of keeping his head up there.

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