- Photo by Andy Devlin | Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
RNH stands for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but as we all know it has stood more for Really Not Healthy. It's been that way for the centreman since that dreadful night in Chicago when he slipped, lost his balance and ran into the boards. No one within feet of him. A freak accident and injury to his shoulder. Since then despite surgeries, rest, rehab and attention from the best medical people money can buy it just didn't seem like he was the same. He did later profess that his shoulder was an issue going back to his junior days in Red Deer. No matter the remedy, it worked but only to a certain extent. That is until this season.
Nugent-Hopkins is now able to answer the question of what he looks like when he's healthy. He looks good, really good. Just ask Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin. In consecutive games, the centreman outplayed Stamkos head to head and then turned an Ovechkin miscue into two goals in two games against two teams with the two best goal scorers in the game. It has been quite a start to the season from this unassuming and generally mild-mannered young man who has been penciled in for great production since the Oilers selected him first overall in 2011.
|- Photo by Andy Devlin | Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club |
I guess I can't say mild mannered anymore after his fisticuffs with Dan Hamhuis. To see the boy from Burnaby when he's not playing his pulse looks like it's just a shade over I'm barely alive. He's just sooooo reeelllaaaaxxxeeddd. I mean nothing seems to get to him unless he's on the ice. It became a little more noticeable last season when he started more and more to stick up for himself. Nothing dirty but just a push, a shove or a little use of his stick to say he wasn't going to be pushed around without some kind of response. However, I wouldn't have been surprised if Nugent-Hopkins went his entire career without a fight. That thought perished into the Pacific Ocean not far from Rogers Arena when Hamhuis made the Oiler mad enough to take things into his own hands. He fought once in junior and now make it once in the NHL. A statement fight to at least let the Canucks and others know he will take care of himself.
However, as we all know he's much more dangerous with his gloves on. That was proven with two heavy wrist shots for goals versus Tampa Bay and Washington. The 192-pound Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looks much more suited to deal with the many obstacles he faces. You look at his face and he doesn't look much older but his strength and stature has grown. Last year, Dallas Eakins said that he didn't quite have 'old man strength' just yet. Even if he's 21 some of that 'old man strength' has found its way into his game. While Edmonton solidifies the second line centre spot Oiler fans can relax about who's the #1 centre on the team. RNH now could stand for Really Next Hero.