Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' 2011-12 season conjures up thoughts like "52 points in 62 games" and "a shoulder injury away from the Calder Trophy." He scored a hat trick in his third NHL game, and had five assists on November 19th. His season was so good that his 0.84 points per game was ninth-best of all rookies who played at least 40 games since the 2004-05 lockout. He's in some fine company on that list, and is ranked higher than names like Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, and even his teammate Taylor Hall.
But it wasn't all roses for the Nuge in 2011-12.
He was prone to some serious offensive lapses. Nine straight games passed without Nugent-Hopkins scoring a goal before he was injured against Chicago on January 2nd. In fact, Nugent-Hopkins suffered through a 21-game stretch of almost total scoring futility, finding the back of the net just twice from December 9th to March 12th - a period which was divided by his injury. He scored on just 5% of his 40 shots in that run.
Nugent-Hopkins also went goalless in the last eleven games of the season; a time in which he had improved his shot output to 2.36 per game compared to 2.12 per game before that. From that game on December 9th to the end of the year, Nugent-Hopkins was shooting at just 6.8%.
Points were still coming, though. His longest run of consecutive games without a point was in five appearances from December 29th to February 6th, which is obviously right before and after his injury. What's more, he played only 3:44 in the game against Chicago, which happens to be the third of the five games.
In an abbreviated season of 48 games, it's easy to think the sky is falling when a former first overall pick has just 7 points after 17 kicks at the can. That's over a third of the season! And while it's not acceptable to get as little done as Nugent-Hopkins has, it's also premature to start thinking of the Nuge as a bust.
His on-ice shooting percentage has plummeted from 10.28% last year to 5.73% in 2013, and his personal shooting percentage is currently sitting at a paltry 2.5%. That's Belanger-esque. To make matters worse, Taylor Hall the shot machine is scoring just 4.9% of the time at present, which is helping to rob Nugent-Hopkins of some of those missing apples.
There will come a time when the puck starts to go in for Nugent-Hopkins and his line mates, and when that time comes this run of bad games could seem as insignificant as a cold spell in a Calder-worthy season. It just has to happen before the Oilers run out of time.