Smoke On The Water

Did you see him? Cutting across, through and over Detroit Red Wings? Taylor Hall played with abandon and determination last night against the Detroit Red Wings. He also said the right things after the game. #4 is growing up.

HIGHWAY STAR

I thought Taylor Hall had a solid game last night. The bounces didn’t go his way (Dennis King scoring chances had him at 4-4 during 5×5 against Detroit) but he was trying to create chances against a pretty damn good hockey team. Hall forced the issue a few times–a late game sortie produced a shot on goal and an impressive collision against Ian White–and there was plenty of try. If Hall and the Oilers play with that kind of jam every night their won-loss record will improve as the second half arrives.

Taylor Hall’s recent games have seen the points go up but the abandon was lacking. Not a huge surprise, after all the youngster has spent quite a bit of time on the shelf in his first 100 NHL eligible games. Last night, as the evening wore to a close and the losing streak threatened to continue, Taylor Hall made an extreme effort to change the script.

I felt it was a brave game, and considering all of the other assets this young man possesses, that "spark" is the cherry on top. 

SPACE TRUCKIN’

Hall is growing as a player. Let’s compare his seasons, boxcars and advanced.

TAYLOR HALL 10-11
  1. 5×5 points per 60: 1.78 (4th among regular forwards)
  2. 5×4 points per 60: 3.27 (8th among regular forwards)
  3. Qual Comp: 2nd toughest among regular forwards
  4. Qual Team: 5th best teammates among regular forwards
  5. Corsi Rel: 10.3 (best among regular forwards)
  6. Zone Start: 52.0% (4th easiest among regular forwards)
  7. Zone Finish: 51.2% (7th best among regular forwards)
  8. Shots on goal/percentage: 186/11.8% (4th among F’s>100 shots)
  9. Boxcars: 65gp, 22-20-42 (led the team in goals as a rookie)
TAYLOR HALL 11-12
  1. 5×5 points per 60: 1.98 (5th among regular forwards)
  2. 5×4 points per 60: 6.75 (2nd among regular forwards)
  3. Qual Comp: 5th toughest among regular forwards
  4. Qual Team: 3rd best teammates among regular forwards
  5. Corsi Rel: 16.5 (best among regular forwards)
  6. Zone Start: 61.2% (3rd easiest among regular forwards)
  7. Zone Finish: 58.9% (3rd best among regular forwards)
  8. Shots on goal/percentage: 70/12.9% (5th among F’s>25 shots)
  9. Boxcars: 25, 9-13-22

He’s improved at 5×5 plus powerplay, and once again leads the team in CorsiRel. Hall has enjoyed exceptional zone start and relatively soft opposition, a zone start that should be conisdered ideal. The only negatives so far in his young career have had to do with injury, but Hall has played in 80% of the games Edmonton has played in since he began his NHL career.

The narrative for Hall this season has been unqiue. RNH and Jordan Eberle have been getting a lot of the attention, but anyone who saw the Oilers sans Hall can attest to the fact that #4 adds a lot to the mix.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Youth can be breathtaking, absolutely stunning. This article has a lot of interesting tidbits from last night’s game, but the one that caught my eye is the following:

  • Mike Babcock: "I was impressed with the Oilers as a team. They were organized, they skated, they competed."

The Oilers are on a 4 game losing streak, but the San Jose and Detroit games are miles from the nadir that was Phoenix. If they can keep that level of compete and cut back on the mistakes then a nice winning streak should arrive after Christmas. They always say hitters can feel the end of a slump because they’re hitting line drives that find leather.

That’s what I saw last night, and in Taylor Hall I saw a young player who forgot about playing it safe and went back to playing the game his way.

There’s smoke On the Water.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    yup, she’s pretty hot! Hall was flying last night, IMO, but i felt he and the rest of the Oilers needed to shoot a bit more. oh well, next game.( i keep saying next game too often these days!)

  • The Farmer

    This is the first mention of halls game last night that I’ve seen anywhere, and I couldn’t agree with you more. The other thing I saw last night was finally hemsky creating. He seems to still be fighting the puck a bit, but for the first time in a while it looked like he could do some damage.

    The other positive I noticed was how active the D has been in trying to keep a play alive deep in the offensive zone. Nothing seemed to click but Ive really liked their approach from the backend these last two games.

  • The Farmer

    Boy if Hall could bury more of those breakaways, like Jones seems to do lately, he would be absolutely lethal. Someone mentioned here, and I think got laughed at, the stick he is using is too long, I sort of see that given his puck control at times.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    With all the Deep Purple references in here I half expected the article to alight upon either Justinian’s reign or Prince’s rain.

    No matter… Hall is amazing. But did anyone else notice Det. keying in on his knee? I suspect teams are going to take advantage of his reckless play… I only hope he can dust himself off and keep playing like he has so many times and that our PP converts.

  • Lowetide

    Rom: Yeah I felt hall was targeted last night for sure, White was heading over to do no good but Hall got the shot away and had enough to stand White up. Terrific play by the kid.

  • Douche Nietzsche

    Old timer here. Glenn Anderson was the lesser lights of Gretzky, Coffey, Messier, Kurri. But when the chips were down in OT guess who was the most deadly. Can’t ever have enough guys who change things the most when it counts the most.

    The story of this team’s players is yet to be written. They haven’t played for anything yet.

  • Douche Nietzsche

    Last night Hall looked exactly like he did before he got hurt last year. A very good sign, and I still think he pots at least 30 goals. I will go on record as predicitng 31. Also it’s nice to see a positive article like this- makes me feel kind of good!

    Oh and as for Eberle ending up being a better player than Hall, I strongly disagree. As of right now he has a slight edge, just a slight one. And he’s two years older. But I’m going to guarantee right now that Hall becomes the better player. He’s already bordering on being the most explosive player in the NHL, and sooner or later his finish will start improving. Then, WATCH OUT!

  • Hall is a rare gem and will shine even brighter………just needs someone to give him the puck when he is in full stride.

    What I have noticed is that lately he has been supporting the puck and compensating the lack of defense by coming deep in the defensive zone. If and when we get a defenseman that can give some tape to tape passes, this will allow the forward to get some speed up through the neutral zone without having to carry the puck.

    Pronger was great for this and would routinely find the open man with speed. The only defenseman that can do this is Petry………but he usually fires the puck hard at the player hoping for something to happen instead of passing it with a little less speed.

    When we get a legit defenseman the trio of youngsters will benefit and we will start winning games. I hope Mr. Dithers gets us a defenseman for Christmas!

  • Eberle VS Hall. I don’t know, depends on how you look at it, pure goal scorer Hall, Better defensively Eberle. You can pick both players apart to support your argument but one things for sure…they are Oilers together, that’s much better. Oh, and that was a trip last night on Hall and as a blown call.

  • Maggie the Monkey

    The play that stands out the most to me is when Hall took it hard to the net and was met by Kronwall trying to flatten him and he met him fill stride and was able to take the impact and not get rocked. Once this guy gains 20 pounds of muscle and a mean streak. Were gonna have the most dominating physical force in the game.

  • Milli

    Hall and Ebs are diferent players, both are beauties with a ton of upside. Why anyone wants to trash either is crazy! I bought a Hall jesrey (online, $75 not $300 at Rx) and am gonna get me a Eberle and nuge to go along with it!!!!!