After a little over a month on the sidelines because of a shoulder injury, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is finally ready to return. The Calder Trophy frontrunner will join the Edmonton Oilers when they face the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
Before falling due to a rut on the ice on Jan. 3, Nugent-Hopkins had never been significantly injured while playing hockey, so returning after a month is all new territory for him.
“I’m very excited, it’s been a long time,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “I can’t really let my emotions get too high, because it’ll probably take over my game. I’m just going to try and stay even keel and just try to play.”
Because of Sam Gagner’s stunning eight-point performance on Thursday, Nugent-Hopkins’ return will not break up the top line, which also includes Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Instead, Nugent-Hopkins will skate on the second line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky.
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:
It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.