Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Oilers top pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looking like real deal at Team Canada camp

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When the Oilers got to pick first overall for the second year in a row at the NHL Draft, getting to pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was seen as a bit of an option play. With five great talents at the top of the draft heading into the first round, the Oilers had their pick of whoever they felt would best improve the worst team in the NHL two seasons running.

Team Canada’s junior hockey development camp going on in Edmonton this week as they gear up to choose their roster for the 2012 World Junior Championships, Nugent-Hopkins is getting his shot to show that the local team didn’t make a mistake in choosing him with the top pick. After Taylor Hall’s dynamic debut last year, Nugent-Hopkins is giving the local fans reason be excited about the team’s future in Oilers country.

Donna Spencer of The Canadian Press talks about how Nugent-Hopkins is turning heads at camp with some reservations about his size still lingering.

The skills and sense are all there. But the power and strength to compete for 82 regular-season games against men with far more years on him is the question mark.

“He obviously would be able to play and compete at the NHL level,” said Kevin Lowe, the Oilers president of hockey operations. “It’s a question of whether he has enough strength to absorb the checking and not get hurt.

“But for players like him, with his kind of smarts, they tend to almost have a sixth sense as far as preservation. The power part is a little over-stated.”

When Nugent-Hopkins was drafted, he weighed in at just 165 pounds and while he could have all the speed in the world, there hasn’t been a guy that weighed so little and played dynamically since Wayne Gretzky. Nugent-Hopkins offered up on his own that he’s added weight and muscle this summer in order to be a better fit on the ice.

If he can make the Oilers, he’ll join a very young group of forwards headed up by Hall and featuring the likes of Magnus Paajarvi, Sam Gagner, and Jordan Eberle. That sort of talent pool and having them all be under 23 years-old is an unbelievable wealth of future riches. Making it all work and hoping that you’re not pushing anyone into the league too soon is a tricky subject. Oilers GM Steve Tambellini and coach Tom Renney will do their best to make sure they’re making the right moves, but only time will tell. The pressure from fans to see all their new toys at once will be high, but the wont to get back to the Stanley Cup finals is a higher priority.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.