In a game the Edmonton Oilers absolutely, positively had to win to prolong their playoff push, Taylor Hall threw his teammates on his back and carried them to an 8-2 butt-kicking of the Calgary Flames with what might be the best performance of his NHL career.

Leaders do that. Money players have that knack. Franchise guys find a way when it matters most. In just his third season with the Oilers, you can tick all three of those boxes when it comes to Hall, who is leading a charge down the stretch that has fans buzzing and wondering if their team’s playoff drought might actually end after six seasons.

The waxing of the Flames has the Oilers on a five-game winning streak and into a playoff position for the time being, and that winning roll has everything to do with Hall, who has 15 points in his last six games and 41 points in 33 games – he’s moved into the top-10 in NHL scoring.

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Hall had plenty of help of course in the form of linemates Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had four points, but it was No. 4, without any doubt, who drove the bus in a win that saw the Oilers fall behind 2-0 early before scoring eight straight goals.

What we’re seeing unfold right now – and it holds true even if this particular playoff push comes up short – is Hall, still only 21, putting his stamp on this team far faster than even the most optimistic fan could have hoped during a rebuild that’s taken longer than the faithful would like.

It’s a stunning juxtaposition.


. . . Hall aside, the Oilers pulled away in this one by taking a page out of the book the Detroit Red Wings have long relied on by turning the other cheek when the Flames tried to take the game to the alley. Three power-play goals in the second period, by Nail Yakupov, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, put the Oilers up 5-2 through 40 minutes.

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Overmatched physically by a sagging and frustrated Flames team that’s headed the wrong direction in a big hurry, the Oilers didn’t try to answer blow for blow. They used their heads instead of their fists – they don’t have much choice, given the make-up of this roster.

While I’d still like to see the Oilers tweak their line-up between now and next season by adding players who can better handle the physicality of teams like the Flames, making them pay on the scoreboard, as the saying goes, works just fine as long as the power-play clicks as Edmonton’s has this season.

. . . That said, ready and willing and Mike Brown again showed that there’s value in having a physical element. While he got his nose bent in a scrap with Steve Begin, his willingness to pay the price early when the game could have got away from the Oilers helped turned the tide.

Buckle up. Helluva ride to come.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Ok. Lets just check the scoring race before hitting the hay …..

    Hmm. 7th place T. Hall. 33 GP 41 points. WTF?

    N. Kadri 36 GP 39 pts

    Z. Parise 36 GP 31 pts

    T. Seguin 35 GP 26 pts

    M. Granlund ……. M. Granlund …. should be here somewhere ???

    This just Doesn’t Seem (to) Figure.


  • I'm a Scientist!


    My name is Gavin and I have a confession. I was a Seguin-ite. Yes, i know…it all looked so clear – a future center that would dominate the play and didn’t have the reckless/dangerous attitude of Hall? Slam Dunk right? I thought taking Taylor was a mistake and that Tyler would be the better player. Those of us in the Seguin camp felt superior to the ‘low brow’ Hall fans.

    I have now seen the error in my ways. I apologize to any Hall supporters at the time for calling you such things as ‘ignorant’, ‘neadertholic’, ‘off your rocker’ etc. I was wrong and I hang my head in shame.

    Taylor Hall is a champion. A goddamn champion.

    And he is ours.

    That is all.


    I’m a Scientist!

      • Word to the Bird

        Yet again, it is totally premature to start saying people were wrong about Seguin vs. Hall. While Hall is lighting it up this year, Seguin was lighting it up last year. You can argue Seguin was playing on a better team but Hall isn’t playing with bit players either. If it wasn’t for Hopkins we still wouldn’t have a #1 center. If Hall is way better than Seguin we should have drafted Hall. But thats the problem, he isn’t. They are and will be very close for their entire careers and when its that close you go with need. Seguin was also projected to be the better player long term, not in 2-3 years. As people have said, you have to wait until the careers are over until you can assess these players.

        Both players are great, but when they are that close you go with the center.

        • bored


          Hall has an intangible that very few player will ever possess, he’s a warrior and a winner, this quality can only be identified by watching him and not focusing on stats. Seguin can be an elite player along the lines of Ryan Getzlaf, Jason Spezza, Doug Gilmour, etc.

          Hall has the ability to be a great player along the lines of Messier, Yzerman, Sakic…not so much in style, but in impact. I would happily build a team around Taylor Hall, more importantly, a championship team can be built around Taylor Hall as the centerpiece.

          The Oilers drafted the right players. We are going to be very good.

          • StHenriOilBomb

            woah there. Hall’s on a hell of a roll, but let’s wait a little while before making these kind of comparisons. It would be awesome, and isn’t impossible, but give the kid at least a full season of success first.

        • The Soup Fascist

          There would be some consideration (maybe) if Seguin was playing center but he is a center in name only and has played wing for the bulk of his career. I am not putting down Seguin – would love to have him here – just saying in my estimation I think Hall is a much more valuable and dynamic player. I think (assuming no major injuries), the gap will continue to widen. Feel free to disagree.

  • Boourns99

    Amazing crowd in cowtown…1/3 blue in the so called C of red and LOUD. Lets go Oilers drowned out anything the poor, defeated and downtrodden flames fans could muster.

    Well played fine sirs!

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Mr. Brownlee, you almost sound like a fan – except for the fact that you are bang on. In times like this it is to be forgiven. Hall has been an absolute beast, and the rest of the team seams to be responding to him. If this kid keeps it up he may just interest the rest of his team enough to pull themselves out of irrelevancy.

    I realized tonight while trash talking my misguided Flames fan buddies that it is a terrible thing when you see that your team has come to the point that no one cares about you. This, outside of the insane faithful, has been the plight of the Oilers for way too many years. Watching the Flames feed on Centre Ice (no longer live in AB ), I was surprised that all of their coverage centered around the Oilers, their youth, their offence, the re-build, and how they were coming out of that phase and into another. Flames have entered the point where it is more interesting to talk about the visitors – I remember that, is less than fun.

    Anyway, the initial point is, even though we’re not used to it and we’re accustomed to putting every movement under a microscope, make sure to enjoy the wins. Improvement was the point this season, victories are the icing. Playoffs?? C’mon, maybe, probably?. Either way, great job Oil, I have thoroughly enjoyed the wins!!

  • G Money

    Taylor Hall is pretty decent for a marginal second liner.

    All Hail Hall, but let us not forget – All Hail Horcoff. He seems to be the steady defensive yin to Hall’s supersonic cannonball yang.

    • Rocket

      Remember in “Oil Change” when Taylor & Tyler walked the red carpet for a Twilight movie before the draft?

      I think Hall was angry at how terrible those movies are & decided to take it out on other NHL teams.

      Bella who?

      (Sorry Twilight fans)

      • Spydyr

        (Sorry Twilight fans)

        Yeah I’m sorry too. for their obvious mental health issues.

        That 6 million a year is already starting to look like a bargain contract.

  • OutDoorRink

    I have to laugh at ‘fans’ who are still doubting what Tambellini has done for our team.

    I would have gone ballistic if he would have made a trade simply to make a trade on deadline day just to make the whiners happy. We have a plan and throwing that out the window now would be Feaster-Grade madness.

    I’m sure that when we’re challenging for the Cup there will still be armchair GM’s lamenting the fact that we took Taylor over Tyler and Yak over Murray etc etc etc.

    Tambellini appears to have made mostly the right moves all along.