Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Oilers make Ryan Nugent-Hopkins this year’s number one pick

Being number one in the NHL Draft comes with a world of expectations. With a pedigree of guys like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and John Tavares it’s hard to not get overexcited about how the future might shake out. Fortunately for 2011 number one overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins he’ll have a teammate that knows all about that pressure in Taylor Hall, the 2010 first overall selection.

For Nugent-Hopkins, he knows the pressure is there but he’s staying focused on just trying to make the team first and foremost. Coming out of Red Deer in the WHL where he’s put up huge numbers including 106 points this past year including 31 goals, the pressure is on to join Hall and the rest of the youth brigade in Edmonton. To Nugent-Hopkins’ credit, he’s playing things cool.

Q. You talked yesterday a little bit about the possibility of going back for another year at Junior. Now that you know it’s the Oilers, have they talked to you at all about their thoughts in that regard?

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS: Not really. But I mean from what I’ve heard, Steve’s in no rush to get me playing. But if I do go back to Junior, I won’t be disappointed at all. It will be a great opportunity for us, Red Deer, as a team to hopefully to get to the Memorial Cup.

Personally it will be a good year of development for me too, but my goal now is to make the Oilers right now.

Nugent-Hopkins has the chance to join a very promising trio of forwards in Edmonton in Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi. With those three and Nugent-Hopkins being a future set-up man for the likes of Hall there’s good reason for the Oilers fans to have hope that these kids can make some history of their own.

While Oilers fans think back fondly of the days when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Jari Kurri dominated the NHL through the 1980s, the NHL being a much deeper league and vastly more talented than it was back then makes winning right away more difficult but if that corps of youth can live up to their potential, the Oilers are going to be a dangerous team for many years.

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Eichel makes everyone look silly, Varlamov gets the early hook

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You know, with Connor McDavid hogging so much attention, it’s about time that Jack Eichel provided us with another awesome goal.

That tally came at the Colorado Avalanche’s (and especially Semyon Varlamov‘s) expense as that was the Buffalo Sabres first shot of the game.

Patrick Roy apparently felt like this just wasn’t Varlamov’s afternoon, as Colorado’s head coach decided to pull him after Varly allowed two goals on as many shots. Evander Kane nabbed the other goal for Buffalo.

You can watch the goal in the video above, which reminds us that “Eichel Tower” might not be a unique pun.

Another shot of it:

Check out Kane’s goal, too:

To be fair to Varlamov, Calvin Pickard has already allowed a goal as well. The Sabres are currently off to a 3-0 lead, and maybe a small roll considering how well they played against Montreal on Friday?

NHL on NBC: Red Wings, Bruins fight for Atlantic positioning

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin (71) keeps Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) from the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Both the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins are finding new ways to win these days, and while they might not be as obvious contenders as they once were, each team can still be dangerous.

Sunday’s NBC game proves enticing for plenty of reasons, yet the most obvious is that if the postseason began today, these two squads would face off in an intriguing first-round matchup.

The Bruins have taken the first two games between these teams in 2015-16, but they might be forced to face the Red Wings without crucial forward Patrice Bergeron, who may have been injured during an unlikely fight with Blake Wheeler.

Detroit features Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as usual, although Dylan Larkin is a new, ultra-speedy forward who is worthy of plenty of attention in his own right.

While Jeff Blashill continues to establish himself following up Mike Babcock, Claude Julien recently hit a milestone with his 500th win and earned plaudits from CSNNE.com as one of the best coaches in the league.

(Speaking of milestones, Brad Richards is expected to play in his 1,100th game.)

Boston currently holds the second spot in the Atlantic with 66 points in 55 games played, but Detroit is right behind them with 65 in as many contests. With the Tampa Bay Lightning hovering nearby, each team likely recognizes this as an important game.

Goalie nods: Backups battle as Kinkaid faces Enroth

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth, of Sweden, deflects a shot off the stick of a Colorado Avalanche player in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings prefer to lean on workhorse goalies Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick respectively, but Sunday presents a change of pace.

In the Kings’ case, Jhonas Enroth is playing in part because of (what Los Angeles hopes is) a minor injury to Quick.

It’s true that the under-sized goalie sports a mediocre 4-4-1 record, but he’s given the Kings legitimate chances to win games considering his impressive (especially for a backup) save percentage of .925. Perhaps he can earn a few more reps if he plays well in what may be a tight game?

Speaking of earning more reps, Keith Kinkaid must continue to work to prove that he’s able to make the jump from AHL goalie to at least an NHL backup. The Kings aren’t likely to make it easy for him, either.

Elsewhere …

Avalanche at Sabres: Semyon Varlamov vs. Robin Lehner

Bruins at Red Wings: Possibly Tuukka Rask vs. Petr Mrazek

Blues at Lightning: Best guess – Brian Elliott vs. Ben Bishop

Flyers at Rangers: Steve Mason vs. (possibly) Henrik Lundqvist

Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.