PUSHING THE RIVER

Lowetide
January 01 2014 11:01AM

I think we've established that Taylor Hall is unlikely to make the Olympic team—he's on my team without a throw—but as the calendar turns it's important to keep in mind what Hall's been through this season, and what he's been doing recently.

TAYLOR HALL BY MONTH, 2013-14

Early in the season he was a center, and then he suffered an injury. Although he didn't miss a lot of time (7 games), it certainly had an impact when he returned to play. Still, Hall has been improving and recently has been very good, especially at evens (he has 11 of the team's 81 even-stength goals). In Hall's last 6 games, he's 3-7-10 +4. Things aren't back to normal (his Corsi For % at 5x5/close is lagging from previous seasons) but he's trending in a good direction.

I'd love to see him at the Olympics, but Hall's performances for the Oilers are the real thrill for this fan. Taylor Hall is a difference maker, and the team's recent record (2-0-2 in the last four game) has a lot to do with #4.

Even having a season that looks wonky based on his own established levels, Hall is one of the top players in the game (76th in GVT right now and trending) and if Team Canada passes on him they're addled.

HE CAN'T PLAY DEFENSE!

The 'he can't play defense' argument went full sail during the WHC's last year, when Lindy Ruff chose to hamstring his own team and move Hall down the depth chart. Hall's ability to push the river and help possession makes him BETTER than a defensive forward—the best defense is a good offense—and hockey fans can go overboard making this argument.

Example: Gretzky. People would bitch and moan about his ability to play defense, completely disregarding the fact that the puck was rarely in Edmonton's zone with 99 on the ice. I know, I was there and I did it! Today's modern metrics allow me to understand that Gretzky's offense was so good that the defensive side of the game was reduced markedly with him as part of the solution (that became less of a factor as time wore on, but as an Oiler the ice was tilted in a major way—more than at any other time in history is my guess).

Now, I'm not comparing Hall to Gretzky, but the dynamics are the same. What Hall does well (drives defensemen back, opening up space for zone entries on sorties) has extreme value in possession metrics, and pushes the river in Edmonton's favor. Now, they don't do enough with it, but that's another discussion.

If the group choosing Team Canada focuses on that, Hall makes this team in a breeze.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

My guess is Team Canada passes on Hall, and that he uses it as fuel to punish the hockey world. As an Oiler fan, that's the best thing about looking forward to 2014.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#101 RexHolez
January 01 2014, 03:50PM
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PapaMike wrote:

When is the Canadian roster going to be annouced?

Jan 7

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#102 PapaMike
January 01 2014, 03:50PM
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Sorry about the bad spelling....

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#103 Oiler Al
January 01 2014, 10:12PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I would hope the Oilers were very interested in Gleason he was exactly what they need, and they would have had to trade someone for him, the problem is Gleason had a limited 5 team no-trade clause, I would have to assume Edmonton and their brilliantly run organization would have been on that list.

Oilers don't need a Gleason. They just got rid of a similar player with similar contract... Smid.

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#104 Ed in PV
January 01 2014, 04:55PM
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David S wrote:

They were lugging around a career AHL'er who's had a smattering of (failed) games at the NHL level.

Watch the difference tomorrow night with Yak on that line. #NightAndDay

When does the buzz bombing start again?

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#105 Alsker
January 01 2014, 09:36PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I agree.

That line would have been much different t with Yak on it. Eberle and Gagner are too slow on their own and need Yak's speed.

Not to mention someone to blame for the f*ckups.

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#106 Rdubb
January 02 2014, 07:45AM
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Bryzarro World wrote:

You remind me of Adil, that brown dude from Millwoods that trolls the edmonton air waves to hear his own voice.

You might accomplish something good if you focused your energy on something worth it instead of worrying about these jokers.

That being said, sometimes I agree with you and sometimes I think you're so far out to lunch that I just have to shake my head.

Have a good one Gordo

as I was reading your comment I found myself "somewhat" agreeing with you, until your 2nd last line when you said you "sometimes agree"...it is my opinion that this serious gord character is generally so far out to lunch it is pitiful, and when he cannot beat you in an argument, he'll try and pick apart ones punctuation, why, just to make himself feel better. When gord does this, he proves to me to be woefully inadequate in talking about sports, thus he must be a teacher or professor of English lit or something along those lines... Generally, the un-educated sports babble that he tries to discuss has most of the sports educated people giggling like school girls. It is obvious that gord has never donned the pads or equipment of any real sport, & if he did, he sat in the corner... just an observation from the stuff written and his responses to people. "when you can't beat them, pick apart their grammar" is the quote he lives by...

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#107 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 07:58AM
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Rdubb wrote:

as I was reading your comment I found myself "somewhat" agreeing with you, until your 2nd last line when you said you "sometimes agree"...it is my opinion that this serious gord character is generally so far out to lunch it is pitiful, and when he cannot beat you in an argument, he'll try and pick apart ones punctuation, why, just to make himself feel better. When gord does this, he proves to me to be woefully inadequate in talking about sports, thus he must be a teacher or professor of English lit or something along those lines... Generally, the un-educated sports babble that he tries to discuss has most of the sports educated people giggling like school girls. It is obvious that gord has never donned the pads or equipment of any real sport, & if he did, he sat in the corner... just an observation from the stuff written and his responses to people. "when you can't beat them, pick apart their grammar" is the quote he lives by...

Please cite the case where I have ever attacked ones punctuation/grammar.

There are indeed instances where I rebut someone's argument because they have used language or terms that over-reached - but that is not the same as what you assert I to.

As for my lack of on ice experience, I would point out that in sports as in eggs you do not have be able to play or lay to judge and comment.

Not that I am comparing myself to them - but many commenters on sports have never played the game - Howard Cosell - he wrote a book using that as its title; John Shannon doesn't even know how to skate.

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#108 outdoorzguy
January 03 2014, 04:10PM
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Hall is about as much of an Olympian as I am!! Are you kidding me you actually think he has the skill to play on that scene?

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#109 Zarny
January 03 2014, 04:29PM
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Hall will be in the conversation but in the end the process will leave him off the team.

He has 88 pts in his last 81 games and the highest pt/gm for LW over the last year. But he's only 22 and was the youngest player at the orientation camp by almost a year.

He also has no playoff experience so it's unlikely Hockey Canada would put on one of the top 2 lines. His struggles at the WHC and his weaknesses over 200 ft make him an unlikely candidate for the 3rd or 4th line.

For Oiler fans however, Hall has shown that he is the real deal. Another 2 years experience and he'd be a lock for the Olympic team.

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#110 pelhem grenville
January 01 2014, 02:03PM
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LT... where are the Winter Olympics in 2018? ...and where do you think 4 will be playing in that year?

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#111 Rod from Viking
January 01 2014, 10:53PM
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@Oiler Al

He is a lot harder to play against and is an excellent fighter so really he and Smid are not the same except for the contract. I don't know what happened to Gleason but he used to play a lot like the one K-Lowe let get away, one Matt Greene, but according to Mr Willis he is not the same player he was and he is only 30.

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#112 Romanus
January 02 2014, 11:08AM
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Kr55 wrote:

Gags -2 last game looking as clueless as he usually does in his own end. Eakins is talking today like Yak is getting a great opportunity again next game playing with Gagner. As you said, when Gags doesn't do his job in our end AGAIN, it will be Yak sitting out. Did I miss something? Is Gags buddies with Katz now? Did he move into Horc's old house? Something is completely off here.

Yaks had the worst +/- well before he played with Gags. We just have more than one guy lost in his own end.

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