ALL HAIL HALL

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.

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.

WHILE I’M AT IT

. . . 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.

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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

    ;>)

  • 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!

  • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.