Rebound at the Joe : Hall and Eberle


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.


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 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.


— 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.

    • Crash

      Yes, it did. Hall, Eberle and Cogliano played with a lot of gusto. They played hard. They got overmatched.

      Or, maybe you’re right. They were, after all, minuses lined up against Datsyuk and Zetterberg much of the game. Maybe they have no character. Oilers should cut them loose.

      If you’re going to try to stick the needle in, try to get run outta here, you’ve got to be better, man. At least get your money’s worth.

  • Crash

    Consistent positive numbers don’t lie….consistent, not up and down, his numbers both offensively and defensively over long periods of time are good.

    I would suggest that those that nit pick Penner are those that just plain hate the guy and don’t really take the time to notice his positive contribution on the ice shift after shift.

    Is he perfect? Of course not, but who is?

    Lazy players would not get away with being lazy very long without the stats showing it. Even in the last two games with the Oilers getting blitzed, Penner was even, both games. Can’t people find better candidates to rag on if they feel the need to rag on someone?

    The numbers don’t lie….Penner’s pretty damn good and has been since he arrived here.

    • D-Man

      I don’t think anyone is disputing that Penner isn’t a good player… I, like Mr. Brownlee, believe Penner could be much better if he was a bit more engaged into the game. He seems to be the type of player who ‘checks out’ of a game… He showed glimpses of what he is/was capable of last year…

      For the record, I don’t hate Penner…I get frustrated with him simply because he doesn’t use the physical tools that he’s blessed with to 100% of his ability.. If he took the body a bit more and wasn’t afraid to stand up for his smaller teammates now and again, he wouldn’t be ‘nit picked’ as you suggest…

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Oh God we need Horcoff back! He’s been out 2 games and we got smoked in both of them! It has nothing to do with s%it for defense and weak goal-tending.

  • Crash

    Robin, I know you think that I am on your case for no reason but I am not. I read all you posts and do not say anything 99% of the time because I agree with you or don’t think that it is important to put my 20c worth in. However sometimes I can’t stay silent, like now. They need some one to score goals! I don’t care if it is Omark, JFJ or Bo Diddle as long as they can score and I think that man is Omark. Last couple of games proved that to me. Unless they are going for the 30th place again then its OK to be outscores 13:3 in 2 games.

  • D-Man

    Players are not stupid Despite their comments they know that this is a terrible team with some exceptional players. Who can blame Penner for dogging it. Even his worst efforts are superior to some of his team mates. What is he playing for ? Its a mangement issue. They put this team together. Souray was right.Rebuilding starts at the top.

    • D-Man

      Penner should be playing for another contract or perhaps pride?? If he’s a true professional he would be playing and not ‘checking out’ more often than not. He clearly stated that he wanted to assume more of a leadership role on this team – producing offensively is only one aspect.. Considering his physical tools – he SHOULD be able to do more… That’s the underlying issue… He COULD do more but CHOOSES not too…

      Management does need to improve some of its signings (Khabby) and needs to continue to improve its drafting record, but should get at least two years of rebuilding to prove their competency… 13 games into a rebuild is not enough time…