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Oilers’ Quiet Leader: Nugent-Hopkins Elevates Game in Playoffs

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has significantly improved his playoff performances and production in the 2024 playoffs.

The third-longest-tenured Oiler in franchise history is having quite the playoffs. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has spent 13 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and has recorded impressive numbers in the 2024 playoffs heading into Monday’s critical Game 7. With an impressive 14 points in only 11 games, Nugent-Hopkins has continued to quietly dominate in the postseason. He reaches new career highs as he plays some of the best hockey he’s ever played in the playoffs.

Can Ryan Nugent-Hopkins reach 700 points in his NHL career this season?

Throughout his playoff career, Nugent-Hopkins has struggled to make an impact the same way he can in the regular season. Luckily, that is not the case this season. Nugent-Hopkins has tied his career-high playoff production in five fewer games. In only 11 games, he has recorded 3 goals and 11 assists for a total of 14 points; that’s a 1.27-point per game average, besting his career highs during the 2022 playoffs. — six goals and eight assists for a total of 14 points in 16 games, which is a 0.875 point per game average. Nugent-Hopkins has elevated his game, and it hasn’t taken long to see its effects.

For the first time in his career, Nugent-Hopkins has a positive +/- in the playoffs. So far, he sits with an impressive +3. That places him in fifth place for best +/- on the Oilers during this postseason. For comparison, during last season’s playoffs, he recorded a -6 throughout 12 games. It’s clear to see the drastic improvement of Nugent-Hopkins in the playoffs. 

What Has Led to Nugent-Hopkins Elevating His Game?

Nugent-Hopkins has been under scrutiny for his lack of physical play in the playoffs. It seems that he heard the criticism. Throughout the 2024 playoffs, Nugent-Hopkins has thrown 20 hits, averaging 1.8 hits per game. Those numbers carve out his new career high of physical play in the postseason and regular season. For perspective, last postseason, he only threw 14 hits in 12 games. This newfound physical play has allowed him to have significantly more control over the puck as he’s able to physically protect it. This is also shown by the fact that Nugent-Hopkins only has one giveaway during this year’s playoffs. 

Without a doubt, Nugent-Hopkins has made some impressive improvements to his play in the playoffs. Not only has he tied his career highs in significantly fewer games, he’s also allowed himself to be more impactful by playing more physically than he ever has before. On an offensively stacked roster, he’s able to fly under the radar, but his improvements are nothing but remarkable. Nugent-Hopkins has played a key role in the Oilers keeping their season alive, and he looks to continue his impressive play in tonight’s sudden-death game 7. 

Next: Can the Oilers Weather the Storm Coming from Canucks Losing Boeser?

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