I’ll be astounded if Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle don’t have their best performances of the season against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena tonight.
While that might not translate to the most productive games of their brief NHL tenures with the Edmonton Oilers, every instinct I have tells me that they’ll respond like gangbusters after being benched in the third period of Tuesday’s 7-1 embarrassment in Carolina.
With The Joe being such a tough place to play, predicting an inspired performance in Murder City might seem like going out on a limb, but I don’t see it that way. I’m thinking Tom Renney’s message in Carolina resonated loud and clear with Hall and Eberle — not so much because of how it was delivered, but because of the kind of young men they are.
I don’t know Hall and Eberle well, yet, but I’ve seen enough and heard enough from them since they arrived in Edmonton before training camp to feel confident they’ll hit the sheet flying tonight.
Character responds that way.
WALK THE WALK
I spent a fair amount of time talking with Hall and Eberle last week before the team hit the road for a piece I’m writing for NHL.com about them sharing an apartment in Edmonton (they’re also roomies on the road). It’s the first lengthy one-on-one time I’ve spent with both of them.
I came away impressed, particularly with their obvious desire to excel, even if both are understated about it and not prone to chest-beating about taking names and kicking ass.
"We’re all not happy with what happened," Hall told Oilers Lunch host Bob Stauffer when asked about the benching and a subsequent talk he had with the head coach. "At some point, you do have to forget about it and you do have to get over it."
While neither rookie has spit out anything juicy about riding the pine against the Hurricanes, you can bet they’ve talked about it at length. You can also bet, at least I will, they are ready to roll.
For added inspiration, not that he’ll need it, Hall will also have a lot of family, friends and former teammates from the Windsor Spitfires in the rink tonight. That aside, Hall’s made a had a habit of elevating his play in big games and when it matters. Tonight, it matters.
THIS AND THAT…
— There’s been a lot of back and forth about Dustin Penner here since the Carolina game, with the expected division of opinion. Numbers guys like Penner a lot and rush to his defence, while those of us who go more by what we see, are less impressed.
The real picture of Penner lies somewhere in the middle. Is Penner a good player? Yes. Is he, by the numbers, effective? Yes. Those who criticize him, at least speaking for myself, aren’t oblivious to that.
But, please, spare me the "Dustin Penner gets a bad rap because he’s a big man and his style makes him look lazy" excuse. As one poster here said, "Dustin Penner looks lazy because he is lazy."
When I look at Penner, I ask myself this: "Is Penner giving you everything he’s got? Is Penner as good as he’s capable of being?" I keep coming up with the same answers — no and no.
I’ve seen so many players over the years — Petr Klima comes to mind — who’ve been satisfied with being good, even if they were capable of much more. Penner is one of those guys.
— Andrew Cogliano’s picture hangs in Joe Louis Arena from his days with the Michigan Wolverines, and he usually plays well there. Given that, and that he’s coming off an inspired (but fruitless) effort in Carolina and will play between Hall and Eberle, don’t be surprised if he’s a factor as well.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.