If early indications mean anything, the leg injury sustained by Taylor Hall in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks could fall on the good side of bad as opposed to the line-up-on-the-ledge side of bad for the Edmonton Oilers as they embark on a five-game road trip.
Hall, the proverbial straw that stirs the drink in Edmonton, was lost early in the second period when he went hard to the net, was knocked off balance and slammed into the goal post, dislodging the net. Hall remained on the bench for a few moments, in obvious pain, then hobbled down the tunnel favoring his right side and didn’t return.
Coach Dallas Eakins was quick to say there was no update on Hall, who won’t accompany the Oilers to Philadelphia to begin the annual rodeo road trip, to open his post-game media availability. We do, however, have these snippets until a firmer update is provided.
Early indication is #Oilers Hall injury might be longer than day to day but isn’t a serious one. Team will know more today with follow up.
— Nick Kypreos (@RealKyper) November 2, 2014
Initial reports on Taylor Hall were good last night, but additional testing today will give them more information. Team is optimistic.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) November 2, 2014
ON THE ROAD
We’ll see how that optimism plays out. Hall is scheduled to have an MRI in Edmonton in the next day or so. At best, you’d think the Oilers will play without their leading scorer for some or all of a swing that takes them to Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo, New York and Nashville. At worst?
The obvious challenge facing Eakins now is to put together a reasonable facsimile of a first line without Hall, who had scored 6-4-10 before limping to the dressing room. There’s no replacing Hall’s production on the left side. In terms of pushing the attack, it will be equally difficult for Eakins to find anybody who adds the kind of net-charging pace Hall does.
Any way you spin it, this trip just got a whole lot tougher. The Oilers dropped to 4-6-1 with the loss to Vancouver. They were 3-7-1 through 11 games last season, then skidded to a 4-15-2 mark with a 1-8-1 stretch, essentially ending any hope of pushing for a playoff spot.
A more favorable schedule to open this season was supposed to give the Oilers a leg up on avoiding another disastrous start, but with just one more win than a year ago as they blow town, how much better can you reasonably expect they’ll be if Hall is lost for any length of time? After the road trip, the Oilers close-out their first 21 games against Ottawa, Phoenix, Vancouver, New Jersey and Chicago.
What they need is good news in the form of that MRI.
UPDATE: Word from the Oilers this afternoon is Hall will be lost from two to four weeks with a sprained MCL, meaning he’ll miss the entire road trip and at least the first game of the following home stand.
WHILE I’M AT IT
- Lots of comment last night about Andrew Ference’s hit on bad guy Zack Kassian – not surprising most Oiler fans enjoyed it, given that the big lug busted Sam Gagner’s jaw during the 2013 pre-season and essentially laughed about it without retribution. That said, “It’s only Kassian” won’t stand up with NHL player safety and it seems likely Ference will be suspended for a game or two.
- With an eye to Ference’s situation and Nikita Nikitin being put on IR, the Oilers have recalled Oscar Klefbom from the OKC Barons and he will join the team to start the trip in Philadelphia. Klefbom reports with 1-6-7 in six games with OKC. Reports are he’s been very good. Brad Hunt is on waivers.
- For what it’s worth, I’d like to see Nail Yakupov get a shot on the top line, as he did last night when Hall went down. Yakupov played a season-high 20:25. He brings the kind of dash and ability to take it to the net with speed no other Oiler forward does.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.