GDB 10.0: why RNH scores again

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been an unbroken 5×5 scorer throughout his career. He scored 14 goals in 62 games as a rookie but followed that up with just two goals in 40 games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season. In 2015, he set a career high at 5×5 with 19 goals, then scored six goals in 55 games the following season. In 2019 and 2020, he produced 15 goals at 5×5 each year, and he equaled his career high of 0.98 goals/60. However, he was unable to maintain it and in the last two seasons he scored seven and six goals respectively.

He did not want the struggles to continue and changed his approach. It paid off. He got off to a great start in 5×5. He’s tied with Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman for the team lead with three goals. What changed?

I noticed two important differences early on. The first, he goes more into dangerous shooting areas and his shots hit the net more frequently than last year. Here is the comparison from last year to this season on his lunge shots (SS), inside lunge shots (ISS), shot attempts (SA) and shots on goal (SOG).







83 (1.3)

23 (0.36)

231 (3.66)

133 (2.11)


36 (4.0)

13 (1.44)

39 (4.33)

28 (3.11)

RNH already has 13 inside lunge shots. He scored 23 in 63 games last year. He takes four times as many inside lunge hits so far. Not only does he go to dangerous areas more often, but he also hits the net more consistently. Last year, 57.5% of his shot attempts hit the net. This season, it is at 71.7%. Shooting closer increases the likelihood of hitting the net and scoring more. And he does both.

This morning I asked him if he had made a conscious effort to get open looks from the slit and the inside slit.

“I think, coming back to the playoffs, I wanted to focus more on chasing the net and putting myself in the situations where I get those good looks and those opportunities,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It’s something I’ve definitely focused on a bit more.

“You know me pretty well, I don’t pay too much attention to statistics. I just go on the ice and try to contribute. Sometimes I’ll play a different role, as a third-line center where it’s more of a protective role all over the ice, so things change depending on where I play, but how we rolled was great fun and I want to keep contributing.

RNH admitted that scoring goals and going in those areas is a mindset, and he worked to instill it in himself.

“It’s definitely a state of mind, and I think it’s also very much about confidence,” RNH said. “If you throw the puck and things aren’t going well, you start having doubts and doubt sets in. Trust goes a long way.

“It’s definitely a mindset, where, okay, I’m going over there, I’m going to drive in and if it doesn’t fit in, I go back there and I’m going to drive in again. Against Calgary, I felt like I could have had a few, but that’s not going to deter me from shooting the puck or going to those areas.

“It’s a different mindset on the wing. Obviously you’re not as involved on the defensive side of things, so you can get up on the ice more, you can lead rushes, you can go up in two on one and you’re often in odd rushes going forward. It’s a different mentality and I’m starting to feel more comfortable with that,” RNH continued.

The other advantage for Nugent-Hopkins of playing on the wing is that he is less physically demanding. He doesn’t need to be down, engaged in battles or just covering his man, then skating further to join the rush. He was quick to point out that he loves the responsibility of playing centre. He’s done it his entire career, but noted the physical demands are less on the wing.

As NHL ages, playing more on the wing could not only prolong his career, but also extend his window to be a productive top-six forward. Less wear and tear is a good thing for players in their thirties.

It’s very early in the season, but the rise in NHL goal numbers isn’t strictly down to puck luck or a hot shooting streak. He changed his offensive approach. He’s traveling to high-risk areas more often, and he’s shooting from there at a much higher rate than in previous years. Scoring goals isn’t easy, but getting into better scoring positions will help any player, and he did to start the season.

If this continues, he could push to set a new career goalscoring record.




Nurse – Ceci


The only roster change will bring Jack Campbell back into goal. Campbell has started six of the first nine games. If the Oilers want Stuart Skinner to start 32 games this season, he needs to start at least three of nine games and, in fact, he’ll have to start four of 10 games to get 32 ​​starts. He’s gotten off to a good start, but suggestions that he’s ready to start are a bit premature. Enjoy watching him develop and improve before suggesting they push him into a rookie role.

Campbell didn’t play badly overall. He made some great saves, but the one area of ​​his game he would like to improve is his rebound control.

“Campbell’s expected Sv% on rebounds matches what you said about his lack of rebound control so far,” Kevin Woodley said yesterday on my radio show. “He gave up four rebounds. Part of it might be about the team, but it’s also about him and something to watch. It can be an easy fix, just putting more pucks where you (Campbell) want them to go, and not sending them into dangerous areas,” Woodley continued.

This is the only area I will be watching closely tonight.


Niederreiter – Johansen – Glass
Trénin – Sissons – Jeannot

Josi – Fabbro
Ekholm – Carrier


The Predators will change their front two lines, with Granlund moving to the center of the front line and Johansen moving to the second line. The fourth line isn’t safe, but it looks like Tolvanen and Sherwood are coming.

The Predators’ power play is terrible right now with three goals on 36 chances. They are in 30th place at 8.3%. They were sixth last season. They average the third most chances/game in PP with four, so Edmonton needs to be disciplined tonight. The Oilers did not allow a PP goal for the first time this season in Calgary on Saturday and hope that will revive their PK.

MATCH DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton extends its winning streak to five with a 5-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTIONS: Leon Draisaitl scores his 20th career goal against the Predators.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS PREDICTIONS FOR GAME DAY: Darnell Nurse lands the Oilers’ first major fight of the regular season.

#GDB #RNH #scores

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