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Oilers’ Nugent-Hopkins (illness) likely to miss second straight game

Mar 22, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Getty Images

The Oilers will likely be without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the second consecutive game on Saturday when they take on the Blues in Edmonton.

“Very doubtful,” was how Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger classified Nugent-Hopkins’ likelihood of suiting up.

The 19-year-old was slated to center Edmonton’s top line on Wednesday night against San Jose, but was a late scratch due to what’s suspected to be the flu.

His absence forced Krueger to juggle things in what ended up a 4-3 shootout loss to the Sharks.

Krueger had already moved winger Ryan Smyth to center the fourth line between Lennart Petrell and Mike Brown with Eric Belanger (groin) out.

Combined with the Nuge falling ill, Shawn Horcoff and Sam Gagner were Edmonton’s lone natural centers.

On the bright side, Belanger is expected to return to the lineup on Saturday, meaning the Oilers should have more depth down the middle.

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