SUN Hockey Pool

Renney's message got through to Oilers young guns

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins crashes into teammate goalie Nikolai Khabibulin as New York Rangers Kris...

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins crashes into teammate goalie Nikolai Khabibulin as New York Rangers Kris Newbury catches himself on the net during the second period at Rexall Place on Saturday. (Amber Bracken/QMI Agency)

Robert Tychkowski, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:34 AM ET

The decision by the lowest scoring team in the NHL not to sit out its leading scorer paid off when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his fifth of the season (giving him five of Edmonton’s first 11 goals) and set up Corey Potter for a third-period insurance goal in a 2-0 victory.

 

He, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle were basically benched for the third period of Thursday’s loss to Minnesota and had a long talk with their coach prior to Saturday’s date with the Rangers.

The message got through.

“It sucks to be benched,” said Hall. “Nobody wants to be benched, but you have to learn from it, you have to learn from your mistakes and come back even better.

“It’s probably not the first time in my NHL career that I’m going to be sat for a period, I’m trying to cope with it.”

A threesome that talented shouldn’t sit for long.

“(Tom Renney) knows that if we play our spots well enough he’s going to put us out there because we are pretty good offensively,” said Hall. “We just have to take care of our own end, don’t turn pucks over, and we’ll be fine.”

Opening 20

Cam Barker showed both ends of his spectrum in five seconds in the first period, dancing through three Blueshirts before handing the puck over to a Ranger defenceman ... Marian Gaborik took a tripping penalty as far away from his own net as physically possible, dumping Andy Sutton along the end boards behind Nikolai Khabibulin. Why? Because catching Sutton from behind, as we all know, is virtually impossible ... Tough shift for the kids. Hall threw the puck to Barker in front of the Edmonton net, a questionable decision made worse by the fact that Barker didn’t have a stick at the time. Moments later Eberle turned it over a few steps from the blue-line. Renney showed confidence in the line, though, leaving them out for a defensive zone faceoff that RNH won.

Wrong Ryan

The giant Oilers-SportsNet mural on the parking garage facing Rexall Place just got a makeover.

The ad features action shots of several Oilers, with Ryan Smyth among them. But they didn’t have a recent shot of Smyth in an Oilers sweater when they built the ad, so they superimposed his face on a picture of Ryan Jones, since Jones had the closest hair.

Not close enough for the Oilers, who hit the complaint button, forcing SportsNet to fix the $24,000 image, at no small cost.

No goal brainer

Renney broke from his policy of rotating netminders, giving Nikolai Khabibulin his second straight start, but Devan Dubnyk understands the call.

“Well, I think when a guy is only giving up one goal a night he belongs in net,” said Dubnyk. “He deserves it, he’s been fantastic in all three games he’s played.

“When a guy is playing like that you have to keep putting him in. It’s understandable.”

Besides, all goalies like to know that if they get hot, they’ll stay in.

“I know it will work both ways,” said Dubnyk. “I feel good about the way I’m playing so I’m not worried about it. He certainly deserved another one so I’m not surprised.”

Middle 20

Smyth stormed down the wing on a partial break, wound up and fired a shot that missed the net, no word of a lie, by 20 feet. When they say you should try and pick the corner, Ryan, they mean the corner of the net ... Corey Potter saved a goal by lifting Gaborik’s stick by the Edmonton net later in the second, but Gaborik went down like an Ohio tiger. The refs bought the dive and NYR had a two-man advantage for 58 seconds. Edmonton’s PK didn’t allow a shot.

Deaf ears for Avery

Sean Avery told the Hartford Courant that he still pines for the Rangers and if he were to come back to the NHL, he’d want it to be there, even though they’re the team that exiled him to the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack.

“I don’t want to play for any other teams and most teams don’t want me,” said Avery. “(New York) is where my life is.”

Rangers coach John Tortorella won’t be watering the seeds of reconciliation anytime soon, however.

“I’m coaching this hockey club,” is all he’d say when asked about Avery’s comments on Saturday. “Those are questions you need to direct toward towards Hartford. I’m coaching this team here.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

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