ONE-ON-ONE WITH HALL

Jason Gregor
April 07 2014 09:34PM

4-Hall-13

Taylor Hall has had a strong end to his season. With nine points in his last four games he now has 77 points on the season and he only needs three points in his final three games to become the first Oiler since Doug Weight in 2001 to score 80 points.

Hall joined me on my radio show today to discuss his season, what parts of his game he is trying to improve, adapting to another new coach and how he views his team heading into next season.

My comments are in italics.

Jason Gregor: The biggest change I've seen in your game over the past two months is more consistent back pressure. Was that just a conscious effort from you, or did you have a conversation with anyone?

Taylor Hall: Yeah, I mean I get a lot of flak for my defensive play and I do think that I have improved on it a lot. I was saying to you the other day that I find when you do back check and when you do strip pucks from guys it puts the other team in an awkward spot; their whole team is jumping up on the play and they don’t expect you to go back at them. So, plays like that, along with playing well in your own end is a big part of playing well as a player and contributing to your team.

Hall is always trying to improve his overall game. He's taken strides. He doesn't toe drag very often, I can't recall the last time he took a big hit and he's working on his defensive play. He's done all of this, yet he still continues to produce offensively. He is their most dominant player.

Gregor: Pavel Datsyuk is one of the best players in the NHL at creating turnovers that leads to offence. Have you tried to take a page out of his book? Is that where you got it from, or was it just something that you recognized other players were doing?

Hall: Just something that I recognized. At the same time you’ve got to make sure that you’re not taking penalties because that’s an easy spot for the ref to call a penalty. So you’ve got to be clean when you’re doing it. It’s crazy that Ryan O’Reilly leads the league in takeaways and the only penalty he took was playing with a broken stick. It’s a two edged sword and you’ve got to make sure that you’re doing it right.

Gregor: Taylor I know that you’re a real fan of hockey; you look at a lot of things. Over a month ago I noticed you made a comment, “I know my Corsi numbers aren’t as good as last year”. Since then your Corsi has improved, but I don’t know if your game changed. What are your thoughts on statistics like that, because I know that you follow them?

Hall: Yeah. I mean, they’re useful. I’ve always taken the stance that good players on good teams will have good Corsis, and good teams will have good Corsis. So it’s kind of a weird thing for a player to think about when he’s in the game but if you’re playing well defensively you’re going to limit the amount of shots against and if you’re producing and attacking, well then you’re going to have a good game and Corsi. For us, we don’t put too much thought into it during a game, but it’s interesting to kind of see how you’ve been playing and where your game is heading.

Gregor: Early this season, was there any alterations in your game as far as how you attacked and entered in the offensive zone this year compared to last year?

Hall: Um, no, not really. You have to kind of play the game as a five-man unit and at times we’ve struggled this year breaking the puck out and then as forwards we’ve struggled to get it back. I think lately, you just mentioned my Corsi, I think that that’s probably more of a team thing than anything that I’m doing myself. I think that we’ve been playing a lot better as a five man unit and that’s showing.

I asked this because I believe Corsi can be about your linemates as much as the individual. I hadn't seen much difference in Hall's approach offensively this year, and wasn't surprised when he said he hadn't changed how he attacked the offensive zone.

FIRST LINE CONTINUITY

E and H

Gregor:  [Ryan] Nugent-Hopkins, [Jordan] Eberle and you have played together before and produced, but not to this level. Is this a sign that you can say to the coach ‘I don’t care what happens, but let’s maybe keep this thing together because we can produce when we play together’?

Hall: I mean I’m not going to say that to Dallas [Eakins]. He’s the coach and he’s going to make the lines how he wants, but I think that for us we just want to really put pressure on him by playing well to keep us together as long as we can. I mean there’s going to be stretches where maybe for a couple of periods we don’t do as well, but I’m hoping that he has the confidence in us to keep us together, not only for the rest of this year but to start next year. Then hopefully we can add some pieces this summer to give us some depth on the other lines and everyone can produce.

Eakins needs to keep them together for the majority of next season. They produce and they've become much more reliable defensively. I understand the urge to have balanced scoring, but I'd keep them together next season.

Gregor: You’re only 22 years of age. Joe Sakic never made the playoffs for four years, Mario Lemieux only made it once in his first six seasons, same with Sakic actually. Today everybody is all about, ‘we need instant success right away.’ It’s frustrating to lose, but do you look back at the history of other players, because it’s very rare for guys who are drafted high to have instant success in the league, and think it will get better?

Hall: Yeah, it is tough. Everyone wants to look at Chicago and Pittsburgh’s blueprint as something that you want to strive for. And obviously that’s our goal, but it hasn’t happened right away and we just have to deal with it. This season didn’t go the right way; we had a lot of expectations, not only as a team, but also as a city and as a fan base that really didn’t go the way that wanted it to. But as far as having the pieces in place and the right people doing their jobs, I think that is there so there is nothing really else that you can do but be positive and look ahead to better times.

WHAT WENT WRONG THIS YEAR?

What-Went-Wrong

Gregor: What do you feel went wrong this year that as a team you have to ensure doesn’t happen next season?

Hall: I think just our start. When we’re 4-15-2, which I think our record was at one point, it just, you can’t help but be negative about how the season is going to turn out. I mean, when you’re 11 games below .500 after 20 games you face a really steep hill to climb to make the playoffs. I think that wore on everyone and maybe didn’t let us play the game that we wanted to for a lot of the year during the middle part. So, next year has got to be a big start for us. It doesn’t have to be a 15-6 start, but it has to be something respectable that we can stay in the race for the whole year and make sure that we’re playing meaningful games, and then not only meaningful games, but huge games at the end of the year to get ourselves into the playoffs.

I liked his honesty. It is difficult to overlook a brutal start, and as much as you want to as a player it can wear you down. He could have said their goaltending stunk early on, but he didn't. It did and it cost them.

Gregor: I’m sure that you’re well aware that Doug Weight was the last Oiler to get 80 points. Was that a number you had in your head at the start of the season, or a number that, maybe 20 games ago, you strived to reach?

Hall: Yeah, I’ve never really sat down and wrote goals down or anything, but I think that last year I was on a 90-point pace and if I had played the entire year this year that was a pretty good goal of mine. Obviously I’m not going to reach that, missing seven games with my knee injury, but looking down the schedule, you just want to try to produce as much as you can.

I don’t think that I’m being selfish in saying that getting points is a huge part of my game. I mean if I’m not getting points it’s not like I’m the best defensive forward in the league, so I have to make sure that I’m producing and when you’re playing with linemates like I’ve played with for the whole year, you’re going to produce points if you’re doing the right things. 

I love this answer. If he isn't scoring this team can't win. He is working on his overall game, but he's still producing like an elite player. I wonder if all those who wanted to trade Hall early in the year realize how foolish of an idea that was. He will only get better as he matures and understands the game more.

COACHING CHANGES....

Ralph Krueger

Gregor: What small parts of your overall game have you worked on improving this year that you hope to improve next year?

Hall: Last year, Ralph Kreuger last year had us playing a much different defensive zone system, where the forwards were pretty much just in charge of their defencemen up top. And it was kind of a big adjustment for me to come down low and protect the house a lot more. Over the course of the year I think you saw improvements in that area from me, and then I had just given an interview before this with Mike Kelley of the NHL Network and he said I’m third in the league in takeaways. One part of my game I that I’ve tried to improve on is back pressure and just making sure that if I do turn over the puck, which does happen more than I would like, I just have to work to get it back.

People seem to think learning a new system every year is easy, but it isn't, especially when the new one calls for more responsibility. I put way more stock in the takeaway statistic than I do giveaways. The guys who handle the puck the most will always lead the giveaway category, but takeaways and creating turnovers is more about hustle, effort and anticipation.

Gregor: You talk about that defensive system that you had under Krueger and now Eakins. You’ve basically had a new one every year? How much of an advantage do you think it would be for your team to come to go into camp next year knowing the system?

Hall: I think that it’s huge. I know for myself personally I’m really looking forward to going into a year where you don’t have that awkward first handshake at training camp. You know what the coach is going to be like, you understand each other and most of all you understand the system that he’s going to employ. We’re going to have the majority of our team back and to have the same coach is going to be great. And I think that you saw this year with the start that we had, it wasn’t Dallas’ fault by any means, but getting used to a new coach is always a little bit tough.

his can't be overlooked. Continuity and being comfortable allows you to play better. I chuckled at his "first handshake," comment, but the more you think about it, it makes sense. You don't know the coach, he doesn't know you and even if you talk on the phone during the summer it is always different when you have to interact on a daily basis. I expect 6-9 new faces next season, so having a new coach would only make matters worse.

Gregor: What are some of the things that you will expect your teammates to know at training camp so that, you can work on new things rather than start at ground zero again?

Hall: I think just little things. Hockey players are creatures of habit, and I’m no different. Even since my minor hockey days, I’ve always become a way better player when I’m comfortable with the coach and everything that’s going on. So for our team, just knowing, like I said, what system Dallas wants, how he wants us to play, how he wants us to practice and how he wants us to train off ice is huge, especially for a young team that maybe might be a little bit unsure of what they need to do. I think that’s huge.

Gregor: Have the practices, or what the coach expects from your practices, differed from last year?

Hall: A little bit different. Dallas likes to teach more, like we do a lot of plays, we do a lot of game situations like re-groups and rims and our end that kind of thing where Ralph was put in a tough spot. It was a 48 game schedule and we played it in 96 days, so there wasn’t a whole lot of practice time to show what we needed to do, so we were just practicing two-on-ones and three-on-twos and just getting touches where Dallas is trying to employ things that we’re actually going to do in a game and I think that that you’ve seen over the course of the year that we’ve become more of a five-man unit. We’ve become more of a team on the ice and that’s probably why.

I never like Krueger being the scapegoat and Hall's description of practice only solidifies that. We'll never know what Krueger would have done with this group had he been given more of an opportunity.

WILL THINGS IMPROVE?

quote-things-will-get-better-despite-our-efforts-to-improve-them-will-rogers-350118

Gregor: As a core guy and the leader offensively, maybe even the emotional leader, have you seen enough progress in the right areas for you to be confident that next year will be better?

Hall: I’m confident that next year will be better. We’ve been put in some tough spots this year and certainly there’s been, if you look at it, there’s been times where we haven’t done well at all, but there have also been some pretty, really good areas for us and there has been games where we have shown a lot of consistency from shift to shift which really hasn’t been there in years past. So like any team that’s struggled, there has been good times, and there has been bad. But over the last 30 or 40 games, we’ve found a game that we like playing, a game we’re comfortable playing. Now, it’s all about upping that and bringing more of that next year to start the year off.

Gregor: Are you taking a step to become an emotional leader of this team? I know that you’ve calmed down on talking to the officials, you and I have talked about that, but at times with this team it seems  there are a few guys that lack that fire to match the other team’s fire. Are you a guy that can get that out of your teammates?

Hall: Yeah, I mean… I have to disagree with you there. I think that everyone on our team cares and when people say that we’re not trying, or it doesn’t look like we care, we care a lot. If you were in our room and you heard what we say, and how much guys care you wouldn’t think that.

Sometimes it just looks like that because we’re not in the right spots, or we’re trying a little bit too hard. But over the last 30 or 40 games, I think that we’ve found a pretty good balance of how we like to play. The record, you know, it’s been OK, it hasn’t been great, but I think that the signs are there and how we need to play is hard, but not only hard, we need to play smart. You see these good teams in the league, teams like Anaheim last night, they didn’t quit at all. They were on the verge of tying it up during that third period, simply because they kept coming and they kept working smart.

Hall and I will disagree on the fire of his team. I do agree that being in the wrong position, even if it is only inches will make things look worse, but at some point it is up to the players to have the fire and willingness to be in the correct position. More of Hall's teammates need to match his thirst to improve.

Gregor: I agree with you on positional play and playing smart and going to the right areas. I know it’s year four for you, but you look back now and how much maybe better of a hockey player are you as far as understanding the game in certain situations and do you think that with some young guys it has taken a while to understand how to be in the right position?

Hall: Yeah, I’m miles ahead of where I was even at the end of my second year. Last year I took a good step forward and using my teammates a lot more, this year I feel like maybe even though my plus minus isn’t great, I’ve taken lot of steps defensively and next year I hope to continue that but there is only one way to improve yourself in the NHL. You can watch as much video as you want, you can skate 7 times a week during the summer but really those game time, those game decisions and those plays that you do night after night in the NHL that’s how you improve on yourself an that’s how you get used to playing in this league.

WRAP UP....

It is crazy to see how much Hall's game has matured over the past few years, but his words illustrate that even more. There is no doubt he is becoming the leader of this team. He understands what it takes to win, and if Craig MacTavish can bring in a few more experienced players Hall's chance of leading his team into meaningful games late next season will be much higher.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
Avatar
#1 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
April 07 2014, 10:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
77
cheers

What a stud! The kid is going to be great! I'm so glad we drafted him. He's the heartbeat of this team.

Hard to fathom some wanted him traded....

Avatar
#2 dougtheslug
April 07 2014, 09:55PM
Trash it!
19
trashes
Cheers
68
cheers

I estimate not playing the whole season with RNH and Eberle cost him a 100 point season.

He will get better, despite Eakins best efforts to improve him.

That's scary.

Avatar
#3 james_dean
April 07 2014, 09:51PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
67
cheers

Tanking has sucked all these years but id rather have our 3 # 1s than just miss playoffs

Avatar
#4 oil4life
April 07 2014, 10:05PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
50
cheers

Awesome Hall. Love that guy's passion and dedication. hope we get some complementary players this summer to help our core get us to the playoffs next year.

Avatar
#5 Dangilitis
April 07 2014, 10:08PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
45
cheers

I actually agree with Taylor Hall about drive. He basically paraphrases what Mark Cuban says when he took down Skip Bayless.

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/mark-cuban-absolutely-destroys-espn-skip-bayless-air-202818568--nba.html

These guys are elite athletes. Yes, there are some who have more "fire in their belly," and who have more motivation (e.g. being called an AHL team by Lars Eller) on a given night. But you are only as good as your skillset, your team, and your preparation. I do believe that younger inexperienced players can get down on themselves, but cannot honestly believe that players in the NHL would be satisfied with losing every night, or lose to better teams because they "want it less," which correct me if I am wrong, but sounds like what you are implying here.

If a guy like Gagner is consistently out of position in the defensive zone, that doesn't mean the guy doesn't care about winning. I don't believe it. I have seen him too many times caring about the Oilers to believe he is doing this because he isn't committing to winning. Hemsky hasn't re-invented himself in Ottawa, nor has he suddenly cared more about winning.

Saying that a team wanted to win more is one of the biggest cliches that sports writers, and players will say. Hall's response here shows that he is more knowledgeable than many will give him credit for.

Avatar
#7 jonny94
April 07 2014, 10:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
42
cheers

Taylor Hall is a beauty.

Avatar
#8 Wonger
April 07 2014, 09:50PM
Trash it!
27
trashes
Cheers
33
cheers

Besides Hall's obvious SKILL, scary POWER and EMERGING LEADERSHIP I really like his TOUGHNESS!!! He will battle monsters like Bryan Allen anywhere, anytime to get a loose puck! I wish he would drop the gloves and pound the $hit out of pests like Clutterbuck who try to get him off of his game! He would probably only have to do it once or twice!!!

Avatar
#9 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 07 2014, 11:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
32
cheers
Mr common sense wrote:

Mature kid. Reminds me of Messier the more he ages and learns the game. Gregor, 6-9 new players? Any guesses?

Respectfully.....I used to use the Messier comparison too...but I think it was because they look the same in the face and they can both fly and shoot at full speed.....but Messier was a lot more stable on his skates, built like a brick sh*t house and played with a mean streak. He was a way more physical a player than Hall even at a young age. I don't think Hall will mature into a Messier type player...(and that not a knock against Hall.....Messier is arguably one of the top ten players to ever play the game)....I just don't think it's in him...he's not the same personality type.....but he is and will be a star left winger, a perennial all star and a regular Team Canada contributor.

Time to give him the C in my opinion.

Avatar
#10 Neil
April 07 2014, 09:57PM
Trash it!
19
trashes
Cheers
30
cheers
Wonger wrote:

Besides Hall's obvious SKILL, scary POWER and EMERGING LEADERSHIP I really like his TOUGHNESS!!! He will battle monsters like Bryan Allen anywhere, anytime to get a loose puck! I wish he would drop the gloves and pound the $hit out of pests like Clutterbuck who try to get him off of his game! He would probably only have to do it once or twice!!!

Hall got hurt first time he tied to fight.

Avatar
#11 mesa
April 08 2014, 12:19AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
30
cheers
Jason Gregor wrote:

I don't see Larsen, Fraser, Jones, Joensuu, Belov returning.

Would hope they add enough vets than Klefbom has to really battle for a job. If he has to play 20-40 games in AHL at start of year it won't hurt him. Look at Nyqvist in Detroit, a little more seasoning is never a bad thing.

I don't see Gagner returning either, so that is 7. Not a guarantee Pitlick or Lander start season here.

I hope they keep belov.it is his first year in north america.keep him another year and see.

Avatar
#12 WONGER
April 07 2014, 10:39PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
23
cheers

I remember as a very young WONGER watching a very young Messier battle very tough/big Willi Plett to a draw from row2!!! Hall reminds me of Messier in so many ways-HALL is even more skilled!!!

Avatar
#13 Total Points
April 07 2014, 10:25PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
22
cheers

Hall is really coming along. He will be the leader of this team and will hoist the cup in a few years once a few more pieces are put in place. Some of will be the maturing of players that are already here, Yak, Schultz, Klefbom, Marincin, Petrie

Avatar
#14 Bryzarro World
April 07 2014, 10:29PM
Trash it!
29
trashes
Cheers
22
cheers

so having a new coach would only make matters worse.***

Worse than the worst team since the turn of the century? Just curious....

Avatar
#15 Oiler Al
April 07 2014, 11:18PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
22
cheers

Great interview Gregor... need more of these instead of endless advance data that only coaches and GM should care about,and geeks.

Gives one an insight as to what is going on inside the heads of some of these guys. I see maturity in Hall, that wasnt there last year. I am convinced he should be the next Captain.

I wish some of his passion catches on with his line mates.,especially his buddy No. 14. Too many guys on this team dont show up every shift or every game. Hall for the most part is not guilty of that.

You cant make on skill and size alone. You have to want it, thats what winners are made of.

Avatar
#16 BingBong
April 08 2014, 06:58AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
22
cheers
Jason Gregor wrote:

I don't see Larsen, Fraser, Jones, Joensuu, Belov returning.

Would hope they add enough vets than Klefbom has to really battle for a job. If he has to play 20-40 games in AHL at start of year it won't hurt him. Look at Nyqvist in Detroit, a little more seasoning is never a bad thing.

I don't see Gagner returning either, so that is 7. Not a guarantee Pitlick or Lander start season here.

I wouldn't mind keeping Larsen around. Yeah he's a accident waiting to happen on D, but he can skate like the wind and play anywhere, offense or defense. He'd be a good pressbox guy, or at least a callup option.

Avatar
#17 Mr common sense
April 07 2014, 10:01PM
Trash it!
18
trashes
Cheers
21
cheers

Mature kid. Reminds me of Messier the more he ages and learns the game. Gregor, 6-9 new players? Any guesses?

Avatar
#18 RexHolez
April 08 2014, 04:21AM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
20
cheers

Wake me up when Kevin Lowe is gone. This team has no choice but to eventually make the playoffs with so many high draft picks from so many years of complete incompetence. it Might take a few more years, but the idea of seeing Lowe on tv smirking in the box once they finally get post season games thinking he's done a good job makes me wanna puke. This team will get better inspite of good management or coaching

Avatar
#19 Wonger
April 07 2014, 10:02PM
Trash it!
30
trashes
Cheers
19
cheers
Neil wrote:

Hall got hurt first time he tied to fight.

Fluke injury - he would've Killed that Columbus/ now NYR pr!ck and he was only 19 at the time!!! He should ask GAZDIC, Hendy, Pinizzotto, Fraser , Eager , and my all time FAV - BIG STEVE MACINTYRE - for tips- HALL has the POWER to be a scary fighter!!!

Avatar
#20 Beer League Hero
April 08 2014, 12:16AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
19
cheers

Outstanding work Mr.Gregor! That was a really interesting and insightful interview. I liked the segment about new systems.

Do you think that everyone underestimated that time frame in which the Oilers would catch onto Eakins new system? I remember hearing on Hockey Central that they thought it would take the team 30 games to get a grasp and it seems that it has essentially taken the whole year.

I really hope that the Oilers hang on to this young core. The defence is on its way and Yak is ready to bounce back. Mac-T should really put an effort into finding a centerman that compliments Yakupov just as Hall's linemates compliment him.

Avatar
#21 Al Low
April 08 2014, 01:35AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

Really interesting to read his comparative on Eakins vs. Krueger. He's just hitting his stride. This guy's going to be a top 10 player in the NHL. He's the kind of player you want to build a team around.

Avatar
#22 Arius Mumin
April 08 2014, 01:20AM
Trash it!
66
trashes
Cheers
17
cheers

It took Taylor Hall this long into his hockey career to about the cause and effect of backchecking and playing defense. Really?

If you seen the Oilers play a few games this year, you would have seen that it doesn't take that long to be the most dominant of the bunch.

What level have you not seen them play at? If you wouldn't mind specifying further, that would be greatly appreciated.

In the answer to your ambitious trio question, Hall admits that he plays harder when he plays with Eberle. I wish that they treated and show the same respect towards the rest of their teammates as the do to one another. I think a lot of success would come from it.

What went wrong is that Eberle and Co. don't have much fire in the belly.

What went wrong is not the 4-15 start, but the play that contributed to that, the play that neither you nor Hall thought to touch upon.

Gregor, if you were the dressing on this crappy Oiler salad: what flavour would you be?

Is there a answer that you didn't like and/or love of his?

I really can't keep reading the sorry interview, I have enough intelligence to see what it's about and where it's heading. Hall is awesome and you love him.

Next season. Sell me.

Avatar
#23 Robin Brownlee
April 07 2014, 10:18PM
Trash it!
31
trashes
Cheers
16
cheers
Neil wrote:

Hall got hurt first time he tied to fight.

Insightful.

Hall injured his ankle falling to ice in a scrap with one of the toughest middleweights in the league in Derek Dorsett. Is your point that Hall isn't tough?

Avatar
#24 K_Mart
April 08 2014, 07:15AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
15
cheers

Goaltending killed them in the first twenty games. They killed themselves after that.

With the way Dubnyk started, even the bruins would have crashed. You can't survive on .800 goaltending, noone can. The oilers were playing competitive hockey for many of those games but just couldn't get a save. Then they lost their will or something because the quality of play plummeted. Having .920 goaltending all year could have easily landed them in that 7-12th place range. Still not good enough, but at least better than previous years.

Avatar
#25 Quicksilver ballet
April 08 2014, 12:07AM
Trash it!
38
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers

79 games for a team to better grasp this AHL system Eakins has perfected.

Is that some kind of record?

Avatar
#26 Rob...
April 08 2014, 07:58AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
13
cheers

@Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

I don't think Hall is the second coming of The Moose, but the edge argument doesn't work for me. A couple suspensions with the threat of the next one being 10-20 games and Messier would have adapted his game as well. Hall has shown a willingness to play on the edge, but has also been punished for it. Had he played 30 years ago he would have been rewarded with more space on the ice and a few worn out elbow pads instead.

Avatar
#27 The Last Big Bear
April 08 2014, 09:33AM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
10
cheers

Shouldn't have worn white while reading this interview, Kool-Aid stains are a real B to wash out.

Anyways, Im glad Hall is more comfortable with how the team has been playing lately.

Because in the last 20 games, the Oilers have (by my quick count) put up 18 points, while their opponents have put up 28 points. That's a .391 points percentage.

They have 4 regulation wins and 9 regulation losses in that stretch. Several of those losses were of the "completely humiliating" variety (the kind that should not leave you comfortable with how the team is playing), including the worst blow-out of the season against their biggest rival during a nationally-televised game, losing to Buffalo, losing 5-0 to the Rangers, etc.

Even their wins have featured them giving up 50+ shots against.

As a casual observer who's seen maybe 5 or 6 Oilers games this year, I've seen no improvement outside of their goaltending.

I hear all this talk about how they've progressed and developed, and Hall has raised his game, and Marincin has emerged as a legit defenceman, and their goaltending has completely turned around, the players have adjusted to the new systems, etc, but they are STILL playing at a pace that would put them last in the west.

(Edit: I should clarify that I *do* think Marincin is legit)

Avatar
#28 cccsberg
April 08 2014, 08:26AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers
Dangilitis wrote:

I actually agree with Taylor Hall about drive. He basically paraphrases what Mark Cuban says when he took down Skip Bayless.

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/mark-cuban-absolutely-destroys-espn-skip-bayless-air-202818568--nba.html

These guys are elite athletes. Yes, there are some who have more "fire in their belly," and who have more motivation (e.g. being called an AHL team by Lars Eller) on a given night. But you are only as good as your skillset, your team, and your preparation. I do believe that younger inexperienced players can get down on themselves, but cannot honestly believe that players in the NHL would be satisfied with losing every night, or lose to better teams because they "want it less," which correct me if I am wrong, but sounds like what you are implying here.

If a guy like Gagner is consistently out of position in the defensive zone, that doesn't mean the guy doesn't care about winning. I don't believe it. I have seen him too many times caring about the Oilers to believe he is doing this because he isn't committing to winning. Hemsky hasn't re-invented himself in Ottawa, nor has he suddenly cared more about winning.

Saying that a team wanted to win more is one of the biggest cliches that sports writers, and players will say. Hall's response here shows that he is more knowledgeable than many will give him credit for.

1. Perhaps the issue is semantics? Sure... they all "care about winning" just not to the same extent as perhaps others, many others at times. Its all relative, and about being better than the opposition. Also the comments about skill set, your team and preparation also true, but the relevant question is what is my input to each of the above? Certainly skill set goes 100% with the player, but "the team" and "preparation" have components both outside of your control, e.g. coaches and teammates and that you yourself control. I believe the comment/insinuation that many of the Oilers don't care enough is true, and the "not caring" shows through in games, shows through in lack of commitment, shows through in not listening, shows through in unwillingness to learn and change, in not pushing through the tough times. Hey, this stuff is very hard to do, but doesn't make it less true nonetheless. Also likely the other component has issues too, i.e. coaching preparation.

2. When I look at the Flames this year (Flames fan here) I can see this in spades. Several players throughout the year have had lackadaisical or poor efforts but it hasn't become a often-times occurrence, mainly because the coaches/POHO have called them out and let them know they are accountable. Sven Baertchi case in point, when he came to summer tournament in Penticton he was terrible, seemed to feel entitled and that he'd already made the team, reading too many press clippings and therefore didn't have to put out. Once the season started not much changed. Coach shifted him in and out of line-up and up and down lines, and once BBurke took full control sent him back to AHL. Seems like he's maturing there and coming around. Another case in point, Backlund. A bit spotty early on, not fully committing to full effort, all the time and again shifted down lines. Fans reacted the same as with Baertchi, blaming the coach, "what is he doing?" and etc but it was the right thing to do. Once Backlund turned his game around, started listening, started doing... he started to succeed and now at the end of the season he's clearly their best centre and one of the top 2-way centres in the league.

3. Main thing we've seen on the Flames this year is learning to be fully accountable, to commit to the full effort, full time. Well over a dozen players have shown great strides and because of it the team has done much better than many expected. As Hall mentioned, we don't see in the room, true, but we see on the ice and lots of times its not there. Glad he's on board with keeping his coach and getting some consistency, which hopefully will put the onus more fully on the players to get it together and start making the commitments needed to let their innate skillets shine through.

4. BTW Hall's definitely improved over the season, he's a hell of a player. Success story for the Oilers this year. Keep moving forward. Maybe some of his Calgary roots shining through... (: (couldn't resist...)

Avatar
#29 Cnaddy
April 08 2014, 09:18AM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

It amazes me that some people are still debating Taylor vs Tyler. Dont get me wrong, Seguins good but Hall is just on another level.

Avatar
#30 Chainsawz
April 08 2014, 09:44AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

Go figure. There's an excuse for Eakins built into this blog post. Never would have seen that coming from the author!

Avatar
#31 Wax Man Riley
April 08 2014, 02:45AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers
Quicksilver ballet wrote:

79 games for a team to better grasp this AHL system Eakins has perfected.

Is that some kind of record?

Being a little harsh there aren't you Quicks?

"Better Grasp" is a pretty strong phrase for this team and it's defensive system. I'm thinking more like "starting to grasp" or "sorta looking like playing D".

Next year will be better, right?

Avatar
#32 dawgbone
April 08 2014, 08:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

Insightful.

Hall injured his ankle falling to ice in a scrap with one of the toughest middleweights in the league in Derek Dorsett. Is your point that Hall isn't tough?

I think the comment was more about how he should fight guys like Clutterbuck, not about his toughness.

Avatar
#33 VK63
April 08 2014, 10:14AM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

Is learning a "system" really that difficult? I get that there is an underlying tendency to cloak such things in mystery especially when it can be spun as an excuse for bad play but….. seriously…. its hockey. Not rocket science.

Avatar
#34 Jay from YYC
April 08 2014, 10:28AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

@The Last Big Bear

I feel ya. I guess from watching the games, it feels like they're hitting their stride more often. How well they hit the stride is debatable but I think that's what the progress some people are noting. Which leads one to think that the off-season will be crucial to developing a team rhythm and starting to refine some wild talent.

But there's too many variables to figure out: is it the fact Hall is maturing on ice, or the goaltending changes saved them, maybe there's no more pressure near the end of the season and they just want it to be over, could be they're getting comfortable in Eakins' system, and lately the top 3 have been allowed to play together, as well they've added decent players, or maybe they realized it's one thing to suck, but it's another to be humiliated - maybe that lit them up to work better... basically, who knows.

I believe we'll find our answers next year now that we will actually have consistent coaching (I would be really surprised if he got canned) and better goaltending.

Avatar
#35 Ivan Drago
April 08 2014, 11:35AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

I think Hall should come train with me this off season in mother Russia. Bring Gazdic with him. I will teach Hall how to throw a punch, take a punch. Luke can help with on ice lessons in fighting. Once Hall has some confidence to back himself up on the ice he will become a true beast. Also boxing conditioning is phenomenal. Eakins will not need to worry about it.

Avatar
#36 Velo
April 08 2014, 01:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
Mr common sense wrote:

Mature kid. Reminds me of Messier the more he ages and learns the game. Gregor, 6-9 new players? Any guesses?

You obviously only saw Messier highlights. In a game, if someone roughed Messier up, there was always pushback. Hall is like a buttercup compared to the Moose.

Speed down the wing and a good shot hardly make a complete comparison.

Avatar
#37 The Last Big Bear
April 08 2014, 03:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

@ GREAT ONE:

Here is the western conference rankings based on the second half of the season:

1 - COL

2 - STL

3 - SJS

4 - MIN

5 - ANA

6 - LAK

7 - CHI

8 - NSH

9 - CGY

10 - DAL

11 - WPG

12 - EDM

13 - PHO

14 - Van

Avatar
#38 916oiler
April 08 2014, 12:44PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Hall is my favorite player. Great article!

Avatar
#39 John Chambers
April 08 2014, 01:04PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Oilers 13-10-3 over their last 26.

This is a team that had horrendous luck to start the season. MacT knows he needs to add some defensive help, and some 2-way players.

I will actually be shocked if they're not at least challenging for the playoffs in '14-'15.

Avatar
#40 The Last Big Bear
April 08 2014, 10:07PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
CMG30 wrote:

Yes. But more concerning than the difficulty is the time it takes to actually master the new system.

Lets run through this:

1. A new coach comes in with the system he thinks is best for the team.

2. The Team needs to learn the system first on a blackboard then in practice. This takes time away from other things that could be practiced, setting the team back in other areas.

3. The team starts to use the new system in games. Mistakes are made, but the System becomes more clarified and errors in player understanding are corrected by the coaching staff. Time (games) go by.

4. Players need time to get use to how their teammates operate under the new system. Things move very fast in the NHL and you don't always have time to think about what you should be doing. Some things need to happen by muscle memory and instinct. No one can develop this kind innate understanding of where and what they and their teammates should be doing overnight. This takes a lot of time.

5. Once players are all (mostly) on the same page employing the new system in actual games the coaching staff needs to evaluate if the system is actually working the way it was designed to do. They then tweak the system as necessary to better reflect the players skills/capabilities.

6. Start to teach those tweaks. Go back to step 1.

Consistency from one year to the next is huge. Ideally, the Oil should settle on their system and it should be taught in OKC. By the time those players make it up to the Oilers, they should already know the system inside and out.

Like it or not, firing the coach every year has been part of the problem in Edmonton.

Patrick Roy can't hear you with 107 points in his ears.

Avatar
#41 Great One
April 08 2014, 02:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I'd like to see overall standings for entire league for the 2nd half of the season. See where we rank.

Avatar
#42 Anton CP
April 08 2014, 03:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Dangilitis wrote:

I actually agree with Taylor Hall about drive. He basically paraphrases what Mark Cuban says when he took down Skip Bayless.

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/mark-cuban-absolutely-destroys-espn-skip-bayless-air-202818568--nba.html

These guys are elite athletes. Yes, there are some who have more "fire in their belly," and who have more motivation (e.g. being called an AHL team by Lars Eller) on a given night. But you are only as good as your skillset, your team, and your preparation. I do believe that younger inexperienced players can get down on themselves, but cannot honestly believe that players in the NHL would be satisfied with losing every night, or lose to better teams because they "want it less," which correct me if I am wrong, but sounds like what you are implying here.

If a guy like Gagner is consistently out of position in the defensive zone, that doesn't mean the guy doesn't care about winning. I don't believe it. I have seen him too many times caring about the Oilers to believe he is doing this because he isn't committing to winning. Hemsky hasn't re-invented himself in Ottawa, nor has he suddenly cared more about winning.

Saying that a team wanted to win more is one of the biggest cliches that sports writers, and players will say. Hall's response here shows that he is more knowledgeable than many will give him credit for.

I'm usually don't like to criticize players for that reason unless it was just so obviously something wrong with them. Any player can make into professional ranks that always has the drive to succeed. They are competitive beast in nature, they may get discouraged here and there under different circumstances or situations.

Avatar
#43 CMG30
April 08 2014, 07:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
VK63 wrote:

Is learning a "system" really that difficult? I get that there is an underlying tendency to cloak such things in mystery especially when it can be spun as an excuse for bad play but….. seriously…. its hockey. Not rocket science.

Yes. But more concerning than the difficulty is the time it takes to actually master the new system.

Lets run through this:

1. A new coach comes in with the system he thinks is best for the team.

2. The Team needs to learn the system first on a blackboard then in practice. This takes time away from other things that could be practiced, setting the team back in other areas.

3. The team starts to use the new system in games. Mistakes are made, but the System becomes more clarified and errors in player understanding are corrected by the coaching staff. Time (games) go by.

4. Players need time to get use to how their teammates operate under the new system. Things move very fast in the NHL and you don't always have time to think about what you should be doing. Some things need to happen by muscle memory and instinct. No one can develop this kind innate understanding of where and what they and their teammates should be doing overnight. This takes a lot of time.

5. Once players are all (mostly) on the same page employing the new system in actual games the coaching staff needs to evaluate if the system is actually working the way it was designed to do. They then tweak the system as necessary to better reflect the players skills/capabilities.

6. Start to teach those tweaks. Go back to step 1.

Consistency from one year to the next is huge. Ideally, the Oil should settle on their system and it should be taught in OKC. By the time those players make it up to the Oilers, they should already know the system inside and out.

Like it or not, firing the coach every year has been part of the problem in Edmonton.

Comments are closed for this article.