He looks about 12 years old, and his slouched over skating style suggests an old man stooped over from age and wear. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins proves looks can be deceiving. A very smart hockey man spent about 20 minutes with me right after the 2011 entry draft trying to tell me the good things about the Nuge. I was prattling on about point totals and equivalencies and he was talking about elusiveness, edges, anticipation and intelligence. Well, I might have a few faults but I do have a good memory. And now, I get it. The Nuge is special.
I’m impressed with RNH at the WJ’s, he isn’t getting monster ice time but is productive (goal and a post yesterday, and some sublime defensive play including a third period item that was incredible–and overlooked) and saying all the right things. I do like that line he’s on, wonder if Steve Tambellini can grab those two guys for the future.
Me too! Nail Yakupov is under a lot of pressure–you can tell because his normal effective passing hasn’t been consistent this week–but there’s a lot of spine in this kid and it is hard not to cheer for him. I always cheer for Canada, but a well played game with plenty of highlight moments from the two #1′s (we’re spoiled as fans, you know. Not in an “Oilers sure know what they’re doing” kind of way, but in a watershed #1 pick cluster kind of way) will be just fine no matter the score.
I hope Yakupov has his head up, there are some stone cold killers on the blue and a couple of head hunters up front for Canada (not that Canada is dirty). The Russians usually get their defense exposed in these bigger games, that’s where I’d look for weakness although imo they had a nice game against the Americans (better than Canada did, btw).
Its about this time in these tournaments that I begin to feel bad for some of these kids. If you’re the goalie for Latvia, or Germany, I hope your country sends you on an all expense paid trip to a Keystone beer commercial. You deserve it, young men. In that way, the WJ’s is a pretty heartless tournament.