The Nuge nudged up the scoring parade last night, the first center since Doug Weight to deliver a point total that has the league noticing.
We’ve known for some time that the kid is splendid on the PP, and that skill is extremely rare. When we talked about his as the #1 prospect in the system late November, I posted:
- RNH’s 2.41/60 at 5×5 ranks him 79th among NHL forwards who have played 5 games or more. Jonathan Toews had a 2.17/60 number at 5×5 during his rookie season, so RNH seems to be on a solid path. Although Toews was older than RNH as a rookie, their styles (C’s with a nice range of skills) are similar enough for the comparable to have some merit despite the 12 month difference in age.
- RNH’s 8.34/60 at 5×4 ranks him 16th among NHL forwards who have played 10 games or more. Now that’s an insane number, but the fact that the Oilers are using him as a major option for dishing on the PP–AND that his beautiful passes are being cashed by linemates–is an astounding portion of this early season. Rookies take a long time to impact NHL powerplays. Jonathan Toews 4.29/60 at 5×5 in his rookie season would seem to be a good “line in the sand” by season’s end.
Someone forgot to tell the Nuge about reasonable. This morning, he has a 2.65/60 at 5×5 which ranks him just outside the league’s top 30 (Eberle is #1 btw in the entire league this morning among forwards with 10gp or more).
RNH has fallen off 5×4, he’s down to 7.99/60 which is still a gaudy number. I never want to compare this young man to he-who-should-not-be-named, but the passes last night were so beautiful and perfect is draws comparisons to some of the very best to play the game.
There may come a time when we take this fellow for granted, even smooth passes are less impressive once you lose scale (when I saw the Spruce Goose it was awe inspiring for the first 25 minutes and then kind of a drag).
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a wonder.
Needless to say there was a lot of good in last night’s game. A few observations:
- Gagner clearly benefited from the push to the RNH-Eberle line, but deserves credit for a lot of hard work on the first goal and other plays in the game. A very good sign.
- Eberle sure scores goals from outside places. He’s popping goals from high in the slot and picking corners consistently. This season especially, Eberle’s shot looks all world.
- Ray Ferraro suggested last night that the Oilers might end up moving Ales Hemsky down to the 3rd line when Taylor Hall come back, with Gagner usurping 83′s time on RW in the top 6. It sounds ridiculous, and Hemsky has not been himself but the idea of having that kind of firepower batting deep in the lineup is so appealing. I have no idea why they didn’t try to roll with more offensive setups when Omark was available, but there’s a nice opportunity here to find three lines who can do things. Hall-Smyth on LW Eberle-Gagner on RW? My money is still on the Czech.
- Terry Jones has an outstanding article on the kid here.
Nation Radio hits the air at noon today on Team 1260 (click on icon to the right) at noon today. I read comments posted at both blogs, on twitter @ItsNationRadio and @lowetide_ plus we’re available at email@example.com Our guests:
- Matt Bugg from dobber hockey. The prospects expert will spend time telling us about some of the Oilers kids who are emerging this season and we’ll preview the WJs and the names to know in that Xmas tournament.
- Kent Wilson from Flames Nation will help tee up the BOA tonight in Calgary. Flames are 5-4-1 in their last 10 and the Oilers are 4-5-1 in the same time frame. With the Oilers off for a long stretch after the game, it’s an important contest.
- Danny Gray from Leafs Nation will break down the sale of MLSE and how it will impact the television sports pie in this country. We’ll also have a look at the parallel improvement of the Leafs and Oilers and see which path chosen appears to be working best.
- Ryan Lambert from Two Line Pass. Ryan is a keen observer of the game and a clever fellow. We’ll talk about the league in general and the BOA specifically, along with some league news over the last week.
Your input is always important hope you can listen live or via podcast.