After stellar rookie campaigns punctuated with Calder nominations, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Henrique were probably pretty excited about starting their sophomore seasons.
Wonder how they feel now.
Today, Nugent-Hopkins and Henrique reported to AHL Oklahoma City and Albany, byproducts of the current work stoppage. It must feel a bit odd, given what both accomplished with the Oilers and Devils last season — the Nuge became the fourth player in league history to record five assists in a single game while Henrique was the first rookie ever to score two series-clinching overtime goals in the same playoffs.
As such, it’s hard to imagine either guy is stoked about bus rides to Peoria and Worcester.
Not that they’re letting on, mind you.
“I’m just going to go in and play and not worry – too much – about the [lockout] going on,” Nugent-Hopkins told the Globe and Mail. “Obviously, I’m going to be involved as much as I can be with it, but I’m just going to get on the ice and focus on that – and whatever happens, happens.”
Henrique’s situation is a tad different. Unlike RNH, he has some experience at the AHL level — he played 76 games with Albany from 2010-12 — and is familiar with many of the players and coaches.
Henrique also realizes having a roster spot waiting for him is a luxury.
“You want to be playing in the NHL,” Henrique told Rich Chere of NJ.com. “[But] It’s nice I don’t have to worry about not having a place to play.”
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.