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. yak2


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.


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47 Responses to "WJ CANADA V RUSSIA 31.12.12"

  1. striatic says:

    what i’d like to see out of this match up is a clean, thrilling game.

    i don’t much care if canada wins this particular showdown, since elimination isn’t on the line, so long as the kids are much, much , much more disciplined.

  2. Oilertown says:

    Would love,love,love to see a hatrick for Yakupov this game and another 5 point game from Nuge 2 goals 3 assists. Yaks gotta get into prime scoring positions and let that shot of his go.

  3. Lucinius says:

    The players I feel bad for are the goalies on the relegation round teams (Germany, Latvia, and the Swiss, Slovaks, etc), as well as those poor bastards that are one of the few truly good hockey players on their teams.

    Guys like Rieder who goes like a train every single game and has very little to show for it other than a lot of half-remembered try and losses. Guys who you know would help their teams manage a few upset if there were just 1-4 other good players on those plucky teams struggling to punch above their weight class.

    I don’t care how many Oilers/prospects are on a team like Russia or Canada, when they face a team like Germany I cheer for Germany because you can literally see the effort the entire team summons forth to do battle with Goliath.

    For all they’ve been shellacked this tournament, Germany has been one of the more entertaining teams because they’ve refused to quit in every game and the looks on their faces after every game is a telling story.

    Those are the teams I give my respect to in these tournaments. The Canada’s, Russia’s, USA’s and Sweden’s of the hockey world have to put together their immense talent and produce to fight for that respect. But the David’s of the tournament? They earn by showing up and playing their hearts out on an international stage knowing they’ll likely be made to look stupid, all for the chance that maybe, just maybe they’ll put together one of those games and slay Goliath and continue to play with the big boys of the hockey world.

  4. Lucinius says:

    That said, I almost never pick one of those teams in my pools to beat.. any other team, sadly enough. I need the Czechs to beat the Swiss, Americans over the Slovaks, the Swedes to overcome the struggling Fins and the Canadians to triumph over the Russians to remain perfect in the round robin.

    Would love to see RNH and Yakupov get into a point for point game… so long as Canada emerges victorious.

  5. Lucinius says:

    Interesting to see that Canada has shuffled its lines to the extent of altering the first line. Lines are;

    RNH – Drouin – Scheifle
    Strome – Huberdeau – Rattie
    Jenner – Danault – Ritchie
    McNeil – Camara – MacKinnon

    Not really a fan of the changes, honestly, other than the ones you knew were going to occur with a full line-up.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Adding Drouin is not a bad thing, will miss Huberdeau. Wish they’d done it earlier (and I understand why they couldn’t). Crazy skill, that Drouin.

  7. mumbai max says:

    I know that we are not supposed to say this, but the similarities to Gretzky are almost uncanny. The fact that he looks 12 for instance. Of course Wayne WAS practically 12 when he played in the WJC, but still. The skating style, the personal manner, the vision, the way of slipping sideways while all the while anticipating what everyone else is going to do next. I know there was only Wayne Gretzky, I will write that now before anyone else pipes up with that maxim. However, this kid is like him in so many ways it bring goose bumps to think about it. 5-4 Canada with a combined 6 points for Nuge and Yak would bring the year to a lovely shining end. We have no idea what the hockey world will bring in 2013, but we do know the Fab 5 are going to keep us smiling for a long time to come.

  8. delooper says:

    Meh, he doesn’t really remind me of Gretzky. Gretzky had this way of making you feel like he was tired of the plot of the game, and he was going to rewrite it all right now. Bang bang bang, three things in a row and each one was a marginally tiny percentage play by anyone else. RNH has some Gretzkyish things to him, but when I see RNH play I don’t see the same Gretzky magic. I see somebody playing hockey like he’s playing a video game. That’s more what RNH looks like to me. Fast, smart, quick little plays loaded with reflex and anticipation. Not quite the monster game-breaking mega-brain Gretzky plays, but that’s a hell of a big mountain to climb. That RNH has made it to base-camp (half-way up Gretzky mountain), and that’s really sweet — only the teensiest elite of genuine NHL players can climb to Gretzky base camp.

  9. speeds says:

    Adding Drouin is not a bad thing, will miss Huberdeau. Wish they’d done it earlier (and I understand why they couldn’t). Crazy skill, that Drouin.

    We’ll see where EDM’s drafting, I know the last thing some fans would want to pick if EDM ends up with a top 5 pick is a slighter winger, but he sure looks like a fun player to watch!

  10. Lowetide says:

    speeds: He has incredibly quick hands. Where do you think he’ll slot?

  11. speeds says:

    LT: Too early to say. FWIW, his draft year PPG is, at the moment, higher than all of Tavares, Hall, Seguin, RNH.

    I’m not really sure what that’s worth, but from a quick look, the only top draft prospects I’ve seen that have posted 2PPG (or better) since Crosby are Kane, Gagner, and Brassard, so that list isn’t necessarily filled with the world beaters you might think of initially.

  12. stevezie says:

    This isn’t meant as a shot at Mackinnon, but Drouin has clearly been the standout of the two in this tournament.

  13. Lowetide says:

    .980SP for Dubnyk at Spengler. I know the season will be washed away because there are too many good arrows for the Oilers.

  14. Lucinius says:

    Very good pace thus far, heh. Both teams flying.

  15. Lucinius says:

    Big, big loss for the Russians there. Hopefully our powerplay can capitalize. But just the Russians losing Nikushkin is massive.

  16. Lucinius says:

    RNH with the assist on Hamilton’s powerplay goal.

  17. Lucinius says:

    RNH should have a second assist on Scheiffle’s powerplay goal. 2-0 lead for Canada.

    Edit: Yep, he got an assist.

  18. Lucinius says:

    Sweden beats Finland 7-4 to grab first overall in their division. Finland is done. Czechs finish second, Swiss third.

  19. Lucinius says:

    Russia brings it to within one. Scheiffle and Reinhart combine for the turn-over that lead to it.

  20. Lowetide says:

    Nuge very creative tonight/this morning. Russians have had some bad luck but to my eye the Russians are better to end the period than at the start. The nature of these WJ’s is Canada will have to kill off a PP somewhere here and that’ll be the story.

    good lord the Canadians need to settle down in their own end.

  21. sliderule says:

    I thought the Nuge looked real nervous on the first couple of shifts.

    This is a great opportunity for him to experience the pressure of playoff hockey.Ebs and Hall have had this before so it’s nice to get him tested to benefit of oil.


  22. skidplate says:


    Delooper, are you comparing RNH to an 19 yr old Gretzky or an in his prime Gretzky?

  23. skidplate says:


    I think the pick is made of grease. It looks a little slippery in our end.

  24. Lucinius says:

    RNH with his third assist on Drouin’s goal, for the 3-1 lead.

    Russia whiffed on their powerplay, but Yakupov’s unit looked very dangerous.

    Noticed how he plays the same spot as RNH, at least that time.

  25. Lowetide says:

    3 assists for the Nuge, not bad not bad. One way he’s very similar to the young Gretzky is that he puts the puck in areas where things CAN happen. Not always, but there’s always creativity and chances.

  26. Lucinius says:

    And bam, RNH makes Russia look silly when Yakupov loses his stick. No goal, but damn close.

  27. uni says:

    For all your PM lovers out there, you just had your Ferraro superfluous reference to size of legs and strength.

    Notice how Ferraro managed to comment on the size and strength of the young man’s legs without any latent erotic context.

  28. Lowetide says:

    Massive pulsing thighs. Rumbling, flexing, sweating, power legs!

    Man. PM was for young hockey fans what David Bowie was to boys in the 1970′s: a gateway.

  29. Lucinius says:

    Weirdest PM moment, for me, was when he went on for about three minutes about a 14 year old prospect’s rippling, vigorous legs that uncoil into a massive, sudden burst of.. speed. It just went on and on.. and the orgasmic, erotic contextual tone. It was.. just wrong.

  30. Matt.N says:

    This will always be my favorite PM creepy moment. Just look at the way he crowds Dutch and leers at him


  31. commonfan14 says:


    This one isn’t as epic as that one sounds, but I don’t know if it can be trumped for pure creepy weirdness.


  32. Lucinius says:

    I find it interesting how both Canada and Russia are quite content lining up the RNH line against the Yakupov line.

  33. Lucinius says:

    The Russian coach is weird and bad at his job, imo. I mean, wow.

    Good win by Canada, however.

  34. Lowetide says:

    I wonder why they don’t get a real coach in there. USA same thing. Swedes and Canadians win their pools and honestly the third best team I’ve see were the Americans.

  35. Professor Q says:

    Man TSN is harsh on Yakupov. I didn’t see the game, but to say from this single game that he isn’t going to be effective on the Oilers is too much.

  36. Lowetide says:

    Typical though. Russians are a bunch of idiots without heart and brains if you listen to the Canadian commentators at Wj, WH and Olympics. It’s completely ridiculous–no coutnry has cornered the market on gumption–but that’s the storyline and has been forever.

    They were harded on Ovechkin. Believe me.

  37. Jordan says:

    LT… it’s too easy to take shots at Oilers management with a statement like that. Something about communism and terrible leadership decisions and Oilers management team, and bam – instant stereotyped Oilogosphere comment.

    So, moving back to RNH – his play is phenomenal. As many of you have said, his ability to put the puck where someone else will be (*and will have an opportunity to create something) is uncanny. I only got to watch Wayne when I was very young, so I can’t really compare the two, but they sure sound similar. I just hope he stays healthy, and has the chance to win some cups with the Oil.

    On a slightly different note, after watching Reinhart this season, I can’t help but think that a big reason for him looking so good last year was playing with Pysyk. He just hasn’t been the same player this year. Really glad that the Oil didn’t select him, and took Yak. REALLY glad.

  38. dessert1111 says:

    A few thoughts on the tournie thus far and some earlier comments I’ve read…

    If Canada didn’t have RNH, I don’t think they would have beaten the US or Russia, and the other two games wouldn’t have had scores as far apart. He’s too good for this level, but that’s a good thing, of course.

    Yakupov hasn’t had a good tournament. I don’t love the line combos with him but he has been playing like he’s the only Russian player on the ice when he’s out there.

    Zharkov has pleasantly surprised me. He doesn’t look nearly ready for the bigs and he looks a little slow but he uses his body and he can score when in the right place. He also doesn’t cheat as much for offense as I expected reading his draft report.

    Tobias Rieder is a great all-around player and I’m annoyed he doesn’t get more love from Oilers fans or the announcers. He isn’t built to be the best player on his team, but throw him on the 3rd line and man you have someone who can score, play defense, PK and give it his all. Did anyone see that goal he saved the other day using the blade of his stick? It was going straight in. And he isn’t afraid of getting into the blue paint. Just a great, but non-elite, player.

    Murphy: I’ve watched him a lot with the Rangers and he’s a great skater and can occasionally have sequences where he looks like an excellent offensive player. That said, he’s very inconsistent and has a few Cam Barker qualities. A frustrating player and I wouldn’t want him.

    Watching Drouin and MacKinnon, I am now more concerned that Drouin is driving the line offensively and MacKinnon is the passenger. Their roles have been very different but right now it’s not even close to who has been the better player this tournament. And MacKinnon takes stupid penalties.

    It’s shaping up to be an interesting draft this year, and the WJ performances — even though they’re small sample sizes, it’s a rare opportunity to see these players play against other elite players their age — really shake things up. Drouin, Jones, Barkov, MacKinnon, Nichushkin, Zadorov, Lindholm….how do you rank them?

    Hope everyone has a fantastic, safe new years :)

  39. striatic says:

    looks like Canada finally figured out that if you aren’t constantly taking penalties you get more chances to score.

  40. delooper says:

    skidplate: I was explaining why comparisons to Gretzky were bad. The key thing any player would have to bring to the game to make comparisons to a player like Gretzky would be he’d have to be doing unanticipated things, things that contrast with the prevailing orthodoxy on how the game should flow. At the WJCs there were still huge numbers of Gretzky deniers that would say he could never take his behind-the-net antics to the next level. People never really say that kind of thing about RNH, as he wasn’t making unorthodox plays. The closest thing people said about RNH was he was too skinny, not that his plays were impossible to make in the NHL.

  41. commonfan14 says:

    With all the compliance buy-ouot speculation going on, I’ve seen lots of people speculating that players will only have to be bought out for a portion of their contracts – like with normal buy-outs under the last CBA.

    Has anyone actually seen that verified anywhere? It doesn’t seem likely to me, and doesn’t fit with the NBA model where the teams had to pay the player every cent of the total value of his contract.

    The NBA also used a modified waiver system where all teams under the cap could submit bids for any amnestied player, with the highest bid winning him and taking on that portion of the contract – and the original team responsible for paying the rest.

    That would be pretty interesting if the NHL adopted something similar.

  42. Jordan says:


    I wouldn’t say that Gretzky’s orthodoxy (or lack thereof) when it comes to how he plays the game or the strategy has anything to do with the similarity.

    Rather, the similarity stems from a perceived ability to create chances by doing things with the puck that most other players cannot do.

    Example: Team Canada’s 3rd goal. Putting the puck on net here is clearly the smart play. However, getting that shot away through traffic at a perfect time for his team mate to have a shot at the rebound was stellar. Some poeple call it anticipation, others timing and coordination. I don’t care how you describe it – his ability to make plays at high speed with split-second timing is unreal.

    That’s where the similarity to the Great One appears for me. It’s not one thing, but a lot of little things, that when put together create an incredible hockey player.

  43. doritogrande says:

    First game this year I’ve been able watch (holidays to America are great for shopping but murder on hockey coverage) and from what I saw Canada much like the Oilers are in trouble if they’re not on the PP. Defence is a little suspect but Subban had a great game.

    That being said their toughest opponents are now behind them with only Sweden/Russia in the Gold Medal game putting up much of an obstacle.

    The Russians were a little disjointed as a team, but the one guy who I came away impressed with was Grigorenko. Did anyone else see a bit of Jagr in him?

  44. delooper says:

    Jordan, I guess I don’t see the point in comparing things that aren’t all that close. Compare him to other players that have great anticipation and shiftyness rather than to Gretzky who had so much more. At this age, the whole hockey world was of two opposite minds about Gretzky. RNH hasn’t made anywhere near that impact. I can’t really think of a player since him where the hockey world was so dumbfounded trying to figure out what he actually was. It seemed (to me) as if things only started settling down for the “what exactly is Gretzky” debate after around 1985, and until he was traded to LA there were still lots of “hold outs”. Comparing RNH to a half of Gretzky would be more fair to the guy. There’s no point setting expectations so irrationally high.

  45. raventalon40 says:

    A lot of people say that Yakupov is a bit of a puck hog but I don’t really see it. He still makes a fair amount of passes and sets up a lot of plays as well as demanding the puck when he’s in the slot. I mean, kid wants it more than anyone else, and he’s the one going to hard scoring areas on the Russian team. Of course he will be more noticeable.

  46. Lowetide says:

    The Russian coach is an idiot. That team looks like they’re out there with no plan.

  47. spoiler says:

    LT said…

    I hope your country sends you on an all expense paid trip to a Keystone beer commercial.

    That’s gold, Jerry.

    Not a lot not to like in RNH. His faceoffs skills don’t look strong at this level either, but I can’t think of anything else. Maybe the silly penalty at a bad time in the US game. But a beauty player. Excellent smarts, vision, hands, shot, skating, work rate. An all-round beauty. He will be the highest scoring forward out of all the beauts we have.

    As for the comparison…

    I think we’ve seen passers almost as good as Gretzky as time has chewed forward. His highlight reels taught a generation lateral thinking. And some of his more unique goals have since been copied. But all round, he’s unbeatable. And he was the innovator.

    But what stands out for me when it comes to Gretzky was that when he was able to get the puck on his blade, it was only coming off his blade when he wanted it to. Sure, he’d paint himself into corners against good players, but generally when Wayne had the puck, as long as everyone else did their job, a quality scoring chance would result. Nothing portrayed his incredible hockey sense better than that ability to lug the puck indefinitely, till, like some grand chessmaster, he could slot the pieces into position, and then a bishop would spring into the open, and fire a slashing attack at the opposition’s King Richard.

    He was so tough on the puck when he didn’t have it too. “This is my puck. Go get your own fuckin puck.”

    Datsyuk has some similarities. Crosby too. Bobby Clarke. But Gretz was the Greatest One.

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