PHILADELPHIA, PA - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is off to a good start to the 2017-18 campaign, though he doesn't always get credit for the small stuff he does. The 24-year-old centre has two goals and an assist in six games this season, but his impact is felt in other ways as well.
Nugent-Hopkins worked on getting his faceoff percentage up and so far he's done just that, winning some important draws too. He's won 56.18% of the faceoffs he's taken.
"In the faceoff dot, he's been much better this year than he was last year," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "I don't know if the new rules are helping him or if he's effectively applied some change to his faceoff technique. He's been better. He won big faceoffs last night on the power play and allowed us to keep pucks in the zone."
"The past few games I've been feeling pretty good, just bearing down a little more I guess," said Nugent-Hopkins. "I had one bad game against Winnipeg, maybe. Since then I've tried to rebound a little bit and get over 50%. That's definitely a big goal of mine and something I've been working on for years. I'm just going to keep working on it."
In addition to faceoffs, Nugent-Hopkins has been effective in other ways as well, ways you don't necessarily measure with a stat or a number.
"The affect Nuge can have on the game isn't always evaluated with goals, assists and points," said McLellan. "You don't happen to get anything in the stats for breaking up a rush or back-checking or running interference on a pass through the slot… picking a pass off on the penalty kill.
"When you watch the game, you review it and his teammates see him do it, it's noticed and appreciated."