Edmonton Oilers v Phoenix Coyotes

Oilers send Nugent-Hopkins home

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ most recent road trip certainly wasn’t as much fun as his first.

The prized Oilers rookie was flown back to Edmonton today after injuring his left shoulder against the Blackhawks, according to the Edmonton Journal. Nugent-Hopkins hurt his shoulder on Monday, watched Edmonton’s 4-3 loss in Buffalo on Tuesday (with his arm in a sling) then traveled with the team to St. Louis. But with just two games left on the seven-game roadie — Thursday against the Blues and Saturday in Dallas — the decision was made to send Nuge back to Edmonton so he could be evaluated by team doctors.

The Journal’s Jim Matheson notes the club hasn’t said what’s wrong with RNH, but suggests his shoulder could be separated. If so, it’s eerily similar to the injury Taylor Hall suffered earlier this year — he missed seven games after separating his left shoulder in late November.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see how the Edmonton powerplay operates over the next two games without its star QB. Nuge leads the Oilers in PP points (18) and his 15 PP assists are double that of the No. 2 guy (Jordan Eberle, who has seven.) All told, Nugent-Hopkins is tied for second in the NHL in powerplay points; ESPN’s Neil Greenberg notes that RNH’s 41-point pace on the PP would be the third-best rookie performance since the lockout, behind only Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

Kane scores OT-winner, caps Islanders’ bumpy start in Brooklyn

Patrick Kane

On paper, it’s the perfect way to kick off meaningful hockey in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders faced the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.

In reality, there were some highs and lows, culminating with Patrick Kane scoring a power-play overtime-winner to give Chicago a 3-2 (OT) win.

The Barclays Center crowd was going to be a big part of the story one way or another, but even by building-opening standards, the audience made some waves.

Indeed, Kane was greeted with some jeers during his first road appearance of the 2015-16 season, though he didn’t sound surprised.

(There were other controversial chants, apparently.)

Speaking of the crowd, it may not have been the greatest turnout:

ESPN goes way, way in depth on how the change of locale was received, by the way.

It wasn’t a perfect night inside the rink, either, as there weren’t exactly rave reviews about ice quality. New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple compared the ice to a “slushy” and “soup,” with an anonymous Islander (or Islanders) describing the conditions as “awful.”

Kane was pretty diplomatic about it, for what it’s worth.


So, no, it was not a perfect night for the Islanders.

They probably envisioned a teeming, perfectly mannered crowd. Management likely expected Jaroslav Halak to be in net, too.

Sometimes breaking ground is often about overcoming those early stumbles, though, and maybe the best review is to parallel the on-ice results: the Isles at least got a point out of it.

Let’s not forget that there are some cool perks that come with this situation, even if the specifics may vary.

If you want even more information/photos/etc., you’d probably do well to check out #IslesOpeningNight.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.