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Principe's Blog: Hurting at Halfway Point

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out with a shoulder injury.

What hurts more right about now, the standings or the status of Edmonton's health? It's a problem that goes hand-in-hand. They can't get better on the ice if they don't get better in the medical room. It's been a running theme for this team and a reason they have finished last in the standings two consecutive seasons and are 26th through the midway point of this season. This latest road trip is another example of one going with the other. Ryan Nugent Hopkins to a shoulder injury and Jordan Eberle to a knee injury that he was going to have an MRI on Monday afternoon.

This is nothing new, in fact it's getting downright old to talk about Edmonton and then in the next sentence or the next breath discussing injuries. I am not an apologist for the team because I am not suggesting they would be first and not last if they had been healthy. I also don't believe they would have been where they were and are currently in the NHL. Now there is some good news, in fact great news, that came out of these injuries. They are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall. If they weren't so badly hurt and badly placed in the standings they wouldn't have those two young studs on their side. However I'm going to use the famous quote from boxer Roberto Duran when he quit during his fight November 25,1980 against Sugar Ray Leonard. 'No Mas' which mean 'No More' in Spanish.

The Oilers are saying that in English after the latest mishaps to RNH and Eberle. I mean a hockey player hitting a rut and sliding into the boards and injuring his shoulder. That happens in a beer league not the National Hockey League no less to the first overall pick. Those ruts are more damaging then any heavyweight when you consider it was that same three-letter word that knocked Ryan Whitney out of the lineup more than a year ago. Since then he's played all of 17 games. At least Eberle actually made contact with another human being but even his problem came courtesy of an awkward tangling of skates with Jamie Benn. Ales Hemsky hurt himself clearing the puck out of the zone in game 2 of the season and missed 11 games because of it.

This is nothing new for Edmonton they get hurt a lot and it's a lot of their high-end players that are doing the hurting. This year, in no particular order, Taylor Hall, Cam Barker, Ryan Whitney, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Tom Gilbert and Sam Gagner have been sidelined. If you put the above in the category of top 6 and top 4 defence here's everyone else who has been hurt. Also spending time off the ice have been Darcy Hordichuk, Andy Sutton, Corey Potter, Alex Plante, Ben Eager and Anton Lander. 14 is my unofficial count of the amount of Oilers that have been hurt this season.

Maybe we should have known when Sam Gagner suffered a minor and Taylor Fedun suffered a major injury in pre-season that Edmonton was destined for another parade to the medical room. Until the number of injuries comes down it will be difficult for the number of points to go up.


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