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.

  • Muji

    It ended in a laugher, but the Oilers were very close to losing this game before it was even 10 minutes old. The Brown fight and especially the Gagner goal (did you see how pumped he was after he scored?) was HUGE.

  • 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.

  • treblecharger

    “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.”

    Robin: Do you think Smithson is a guy who can “handle the physicality of teams like the Flames”?

    • Smithson is big but isn’t considered a physical player. Despite failing to stretch the tape to six feet, guys like Brown and Begin are. You can’t measure willingness to engage and compete physically based on size alone.

        • jadeddog

          Exactly. I’ll take 2 Gagner’s any day of the week, no matter their size. Gagner is a gamer, always willing to give it his all. He’ll never be big and never knock others off the puck, but his “compete level” is exceedingly high – and it always has been.

          I sure hope we can lock him up for around 4-4.5 million for 4-5 years.

      • Phixieus666

        Ya I don’t know about that I was watching some videos on Smithson and he seems to really enjoy throwing his weight around and finishing his checks. He doesn’t need to fight to be a physical players.

  • A-Mc

    Its been so long since the Oilers have been in this position. Im so nervous about the last 12 games, i literally feel sick.

    If the Oil make it into the playoffs, i think itll be because we chased down detroit, not St.Lou (St.L has 2 games in hand and is 1 pt back).

    The insane run has to end sometime and the final stretch looks tough!

  • 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.


  • 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!

  • DonovanMD

    I don’t mind Brown or Smithson (Jerred more so as he brings nice defensive intangibles) and I’m happy with a fourth line made up of these types as opposed to pure knuckle draggers, but the price for both was slightly too high. But why complain about it, or who the Oilers didn’t send away today. If they make the playoffs it will go a long way for fans after this scorched earth we’d have to endure for nearly a decade.

    But on topic: ALL HAIL HALL! Guy was amazing. What I love about him (and Yak for that matter) is he has a motor that never quits, that drive every shift. Love it.

    The important thing for them is not to follow up with a dud tomorrow night. Coming off 5 wins, coming off a 4-0 shutout last time they met Van, this is the sort of game the Oilers would find a way to lose the last 10 years. Hopefully they come out strong and not hungover from this win. Even if they lose tomorrow, they need to come out of the gate strong.

  • 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!!

  • A-Mc

    “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”

    Really good line there, Robin.

    • 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.

  • KatzKidsJewFro

    I have sat through so many bad losses in that barn over the years. Must say after it was 0-2 I was getting a familiar sinking feeling. I really felt that Brown’s fight brought the Oilers heads back into the game, even if it didn’t translate onto the scoreboard right away. By the end of the night all was well and a row full of Oilers fans were sharing some big old hand slaps. Long live the Oil. Lets keep rolling. Damn what a beautiful night.

    • wiseguy

      The awesome thing is they’re each blossoming in the order of their draft year. Ebs last year, Hall this year. Imagine by the time Nuge and Yak hit their stride while Ebs and Hall are already there. The fun is just beginning.

  • Phixieus666

    15 points in 6 games. Just taking the team by its proverbial ass and dragging it into the playoffs. Hall is willing this team into the playoffs. You don’t do that by being a follower. You do that by being a leader. You do that by paying the price on and off the ice. You do that and you earn the respect of your teammates.It is going to be a wild ride of emotion these next 2 weeks.I for one look forward to the tide of emotions that we are going to see from not only the fans but from the team.


  • Phixieus666

    1. Hall is having a good – bordering on great season. He seems to be on track to being one of the very elite.

    2. The oil is NOT in eighth using proper – read baseball-style metrics. They are ninth behind St. Louis as they are just one point back with two games at hand.

    3. Last night they beat what was arguably the worst team ever put on the ice in the entire history of the Calgary flames. Several AHL teams could have thumped them.

    4. Tambellini admitted on Tuesday that he did nothing of substance at the deadline because he doesn’t want to upset a run for the playoffs. Naturally this also serves his passive personality perfectly and will also blind many of the fans to the opportunity Lost and buy him more time.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      WOW! I thought I was going to get through ONE article without DSF but then ……Mini Me shows up!

      I like to think of DSF as Dr. Evil, and that would make not so serious Gord his son…..Scott Evil!

      How tall are you Gord? Which one is more representative Mini or Scott?

      • StHenriOilBomb

        Serious Gord speaks the truth. Let him be a pessimist, it’ll keep the rest of us a little more honest.

        Back to the article…

        Punishing teams with the power-play can be extremely effective. Where I worry about it working is late in the playoffs when penalties become a rarity. Vancouver’s 2010 outlook was very much this way, and it worked beautifully until the finals when the only penalties called were of the blatant sort. Their opponents smartly played right up to that line, and never allowed Van’s PP to gain any momentum. They were a more skilled team who got beat up over the course of the playoffs to a point where they had no way to counter Boston’s punishing style.

        I worry about the Oilers in this regard.

        Although Ebs and Hall are big game scorers…

        we’ll see.

        • oilerjed

          I disagree with you to the extent that penalties dried up, but alot of it had to do with the CanTnucks being unable to push the other team back for a period of time, forcing them to do something stupid. Whether we can is still to be seen but the CanTnucks window has closed and ours is opening just a wee bit. We are a much faster team as well IMO.

    • Carlos Danger

      I know it has been a while but the whole fun of a playoff run is the ups and downs. You need to live in the highs so you don’t kill yourself with the lows.

      Note: Disregard this message if you grew up in the Great Depression. For some reason my grandfather also revels in misery and gets a great deal of pleasure in complaining. If your balls are rusty and dragging on the ground then I am sorry for telling you how to act, sir.

  • oilerjed

    I love it! Oil fans feeling pretty freaking good today. Props being handed out like candy all over the ON. I cant wait to see how they show up for the Van game tonight. Its about time I can tell all of my “We are all Canuck” neighbours to shut the HAll up!

    Where’s is Fistric by the way? I know we are on a winning streak but figured he would play last night in case Brown needed some backup.

  • oilerjed

    “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”

    Hordichuk, Eager, Brown, Fistric, and Peckham all exist for this reason, and they all played (or are playing) their way right out of the lineup.

    Smyth has always been my model for how to play tough. Ignore the BS of tough guys. If someone hassles you bad enough, unless it is a goon, crosscheck them in the face as hard as possible when they come in at you. If it is a goon, take a dive, draw a penalty, and watch them not make it back on the ice all game.

    IMO, the Oilers aren’t small and weak on the whole. They aren’t intimidated, and fighting back with more goons doesn’t deter anything, which is demonstrably obvious.

    And they have a goon dressed in the lineup already.

  • oilerjed


    The only thing I care about – the only thing oil mgmt should care about – is winning the cup as quickly and as often as possible. PERIOD. They should be tormented – like Harry sinden and Steinbrenner and belichek were/is when they see that mission frustrated or deflected off course. KL&T – as their lack of action and their statements demonstrate do not share that goal.

    Rindog: the NHL has THE most jackass point system in all of professional sport. Ballyhooing that the oil is in eighth shows mathematical ignorance and makes one look silly. With that kind of math skill i would advise you to stay away from casinos and racetracks and bourses.

    • oilerjed

      “Rindog: the NHL has THE most jackass point system in all of professional sport. Ballyhooing that the oil is in eighth shows mathematical ignorance and makes one look silly. With that kind of math skill i would advise you to stay away from casinos and racetracks and bourses.”

      With there next five games against CHI CLB DET MIN and NAS between now and next Thurs, they are not sitting too pretty either. And however you do the math 39 is more then 38. Thats not bad math thats fact.
      Go OIL!

        • oilerjed


          If the oil was one point ahead and the blues had ten games in hand you would say that the oil is ahead?

          That’s like betting on a horse that has won more races yet had finishing times that were far inferior to the other horses in the race.

          • OutDoorRink

            Show me when there has ever been a time when another team has had 10 games in hand???

            Fact of the matter is that until another team has more points than the Oilers, the Oilers are ahead of them in the standings.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Due to force of habit, as an oil fan I need something to agonize over and complain about. I just know those eastern-based media types are going to ignore Hall when it comes to Hart trophy voting. Jerks. But lets see them cry when Hall wins the Art Ross. With Crosby out, it could happen.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Good game for a team that is looking the part of playoff contender………..could the Oilers bring Hordi or Eager up without having them to clear waivers?

    It would be nice to have a couple of physical options against the Flames or team that play a more physical game.

  • oilerjed

    Rindog I’m pretty sure we are in agreement that was pointed at serious gord’s reply to you.
    One thing I’ll add is that STL is on the road for 4 of the next 5, downside they are 3 games over .500 on the road.

  • 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.