After a rookie season that saw him score 52 points and earn a Calder Trophy nomination, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was used to things going his way.
This season, he’s figuring out how to deal with the opposite.
The Oilers forward hasn’t scored once through 12 games this season, extending his goalless drought to 23 consecutive games.
“I want to help out the team at both ends of the ice and right now, I’m not offensively,” Nugent-Hopkins told the Edmonton Journal following Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Dallas. “I’ll keep working on it but I don’t want to get frustrated.
“I don’t want to let it get the best of me.”
Nugent-Hopkins isn’t unaccustomed to goalless droughts. He had a 12-game streak during his rookie campaign and finished the year by failing to find the back of the net in 11 straight — yet still finished the season with 18 goals in 62 games, fourth among all rookies.
Oilers head coach Ralph Kruger tried to kickstart Nuge on Tuesday night by reuniting him on the “Kid Line” with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. The trio finished with 18 shots on goal, with Hall scoring Edmonton’s lone marker.
Nugent-Hopkins saw it as a step in the right direction.
“We have to find a way,” he explained. “As I said before, it can get frustrating if you let it. I thought all the lines did a great job of getting pucks to the net.”
Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby
“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”
In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.
One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.
Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?
Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).
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