December 20 2011 05:00PM
Did you see him? Cutting across, through and over Detroit Red Wings? Taylor Hall played with abandon and determination last night against the Detroit Red Wings. He also said the right things after the game. #4 is growing up.
I thought Taylor Hall had a solid game last night. The bounces didn't go his way (Dennis King scoring chances had him at 4-4 during 5x5 against Detroit) but he was trying to create chances against a pretty damn good hockey team. Hall forced the issue a few times--a late game sortie produced a shot on goal and an impressive collision against Ian White--and there was plenty of try. If Hall and the Oilers play with that kind of jam every night their won-loss record will improve as the second half arrives.
Taylor Hall's recent games have seen the points go up but the abandon was lacking. Not a huge surprise, after all the youngster has spent quite a bit of time on the shelf in his first 100 NHL eligible games. Last night, as the evening wore to a close and the losing streak threatened to continue, Taylor Hall made an extreme effort to change the script.
I felt it was a brave game, and considering all of the other assets this young man possesses, that "spark" is the cherry on top.
Hall is growing as a player. Let's compare his seasons, boxcars and advanced.
- 5x5 points per 60: 1.78 (4th among regular forwards)
- 5x4 points per 60: 3.27 (8th among regular forwards)
- Qual Comp: 2nd toughest among regular forwards
- Qual Team: 5th best teammates among regular forwards
- Corsi Rel: 10.3 (best among regular forwards)
- Zone Start: 52.0% (4th easiest among regular forwards)
- Zone Finish: 51.2% (7th best among regular forwards)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 186/11.8% (4th among F's>100 shots)
- Boxcars: 65gp, 22-20-42 (led the team in goals as a rookie)
- 5x5 points per 60: 1.98 (5th among regular forwards)
- 5x4 points per 60: 6.75 (2nd among regular forwards)
- Qual Comp: 5th toughest among regular forwards
- Qual Team: 3rd best teammates among regular forwards
- Corsi Rel: 16.5 (best among regular forwards)
- Zone Start: 61.2% (3rd easiest among regular forwards)
- Zone Finish: 58.9% (3rd best among regular forwards)
- Shots on goal/percentage: 70/12.9% (5th among F's>25 shots)
- Boxcars: 25, 9-13-22
He's improved at 5x5 plus powerplay, and once again leads the team in CorsiRel. Hall has enjoyed exceptional zone start and relatively soft opposition, a zone start that should be conisdered ideal. The only negatives so far in his young career have had to do with injury, but Hall has played in 80% of the games Edmonton has played in since he began his NHL career.
The narrative for Hall this season has been unqiue. RNH and Jordan Eberle have been getting a lot of the attention, but anyone who saw the Oilers sans Hall can attest to the fact that #4 adds a lot to the mix.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Youth can be breathtaking, absolutely stunning. This article has a lot of interesting tidbits from last night's game, but the one that caught my eye is the following:
- Mike Babcock: "I was impressed with the Oilers as a team. They were organized, they skated, they competed."
The Oilers are on a 4 game losing streak, but the San Jose and Detroit games are miles from the nadir that was Phoenix. If they can keep that level of compete and cut back on the mistakes then a nice winning streak should arrive after Christmas. They always say hitters can feel the end of a slump because they're hitting line drives that find leather.
That's what I saw last night, and in Taylor Hall I saw a young player who forgot about playing it safe and went back to playing the game his way.
There's smoke On the Water.