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Oilers send Nugent-Hopkins home

Edmonton Oilers v Phoenix Coyotes

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 15: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates off the ice following warm ups to the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on December 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Christian Petersen

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ most recent road trip certainly wasn’t as much fun as his first.

The prized Oilers rookie was flown back to Edmonton today after injuring his left shoulder against the Blackhawks, according to the Edmonton Journal. Nugent-Hopkins hurt his shoulder on Monday, watched Edmonton’s 4-3 loss in Buffalo on Tuesday (with his arm in a sling) then traveled with the team to St. Louis. But with just two games left on the seven-game roadie -- Thursday against the Blues and Saturday in Dallas -- the decision was made to send Nuge back to Edmonton so he could be evaluated by team doctors.

The Journal’s Jim Matheson notes the club hasn’t said what’s wrong with RNH, but suggests his shoulder could be separated. If so, it’s eerily similar to the injury Taylor Hall suffered earlier this year -- he missed seven games after separating his left shoulder in late November.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see how the Edmonton powerplay operates over the next two games without its star QB. Nuge leads the Oilers in PP points (18) and his 15 PP assists are double that of the No. 2 guy (Jordan Eberle, who has seven.) All told, Nugent-Hopkins is tied for second in the NHL in powerplay points; ESPN’s Neil Greenberg notes that RNH’s 41-point pace on the PP would be the third-best rookie performance since the lockout, behind only Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.