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.

  • Horcsky

    I think Cogs’ inspired (but fruitless) effort, as RB puts it, will sink him back into lacklustre play, as he is not being rewarded with points for hard play.

    I agree with Hall and Eberle bouncing back though, they haven’t had the crushing weight of team failure on their backs long enough to mail it in tonight.

    • Cogliano and the kids haven’t been lacklustre through 40 minutes tonight, anything but with lots of jump.

      But they were matched toughed in the first period with Datsyuk and Zetterberg, they’re an ugly combined minus-9 and Hall coughed up the puck on Cleary’s 4-0 goal. Adding injury to insult, Cogliano opened up his stitches again on the play where he was whistled for high-sticking on Helm.

      Keep throwing them out there.

      • Horcsky

        Ya they were alright, just overmatched like you say. For the record, I did say I thought the kids would be okay, but Cogs wouldn’t. Good for him.

        Your take on the bizarre move of dressing 7 d-men and double shifting forwards on the fourth line instead of dressing another forward?

  • VMR

    So Penner is what he is, what’s the point in complaining about it? Sure maybe if he played with fire in his belly every game he’d be a much better player but if he hasnt shown it by now can we just get over it already and admit it’s not in him. If my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle, Penner isnt the second coming of Cam Neely. So what he’s a good player that does a lot of things right.

  • Great article.

    I ,too, appreciate that he’s an effective player by the numbers, but there are just too many nights when coasts and/or is invisible. I watch enough oilers hockey to have a decent sense of when he’s coasting and when he’s not. I agree with Brownlee that the excuse of “he only looks like he’s coasting becuase he’s big” dosen’t work.

    There seems to be a sense that either Hemsky or Penner is going to be gone by the time this team is legitimately good. I would prefer to see Hemsky stick around. If Tambo could unload Penner this year for a reasonable return, I’d be all for it. Preferably something to bolster the D.

  • Thanks for finding the words I was grasping at when I read Willis’ article about Penner.
    You can’t dismiss the numbers those eggheads throw around, especially when they help paint Penner in a positive light like that, but you also can’t dismiss the fact that I scream at my TV four or five times a night when I see him take half a stride, glide, and kind of swat at the puck as it flies past him out of the offensive zone.

    I also dropped him from my fantasy team two days ago which means he’ll start scoring at a pretty good clip any day now.

  • Jamie B.

    I look forward to reading that article.

    They are roomies on the road? I thought Renney made a big deal of switching up all the old roommates and putting Hall with Gilbert and Eberle with Cogliano (and Paajarvi with Hemsky), was that just for the first trip?

  • Wax Man Riley

    I’m expecting a good game from the Hall/Cogs/Eberle line. Cogs has been one of the hardest working Oilers this year, even if he has Marchant’s hands.

    Penner has not been giving his all. He is a “when it counts” player, I think. he is a good, not great player, and if and when he is in the playoffs (with the Oil or otherwise), or in a stretch run for a spot, he will step it up. Unfortunately this year, with the focus and ice time on the rookies, he doesn’t have a lot to play for on this once again bottom 5 team.

  • Boy, if Cogs ever finds his finish again, look out! He has been playing some decent hockey this year even if he has been on the ‘3rd’ line. That said, he needs to find a way to get some results of the effort.

    I like Penner but the fact that he doesn’t hit drives me crazy. Does it hurt that much? Would it hurt him? He turns away far too often.

    • You can’t make Penner something he’s not. I’d like it if he was more physical, but that’s not in his mental make-up.

      For me, it’s more fundamental than that — no need to become something you’re not, but do what you do as well as you can do it.

      • No, that’s true and I suppose he will always be an enigma. Maybe the team could pay opposing players to stick him early in a game to fire him up! (j/k, obviously)

        Your last statement rings true because he seems so unmotivated sometimes. That said, I’m sure it is hard to be motivated when you are a millionaire. I doubt I’ll get a chance to verify that though.

        • I don’t know, I was still motivated after I made, then lost my first million by 19. Although I did change course and concentrate more on my tv/ movie career than my rap for a while but things worked out in the end.*

          *may not be my life