Taylor Hall’s production through the first half of the season has not been close to how he produced the previous two years. In 2013 and 2014 he had 130 points in 120 games. He produced the 6th most points in the entire NHL during that span, but so far this season he has struggled.
He has 25 points in 35 games thus far, but Hall told me that his health is not the reason his numbers have dipped.
“My health is not an issue at all,” said Hall. “This hasn’t been the greatest season for me, and I know that, but there is a lot of hockey left. I’m confident that my game is turning around. I’m doing things that I wasn’t comfortable doing early in the season, and I feel that with 40 games left I’m going to come on,” he continued.
He has tried to adjust his play away from the puck, and at times he feels it has hindered his overall game. Many have wondered if Hall is playing banged up because we haven’t seen his blazing speed as often this year, but he explained that is not the case.
“I haven’t put myself in positions to use my speed as much. I feel the past few games I’m starting to get back to that, and I’m confident that I’m starting to find the right balance between reading the play properly and then being in a position to use my speed,” Hall said candidly.
He also pointed out that he feels Nelson’s emphasis on pace and tempo in practice has helped his overall game, because Nelson wants everything done quickly and the flow in practice is continuous with fewer stoppages.
“They’ve been great. I can appreciate the tempo we are playing with in practice because it is helping us in games. To be honest, I’ve never been a guy who believed in going 100% in every drill in every practice, but I’m starting to believe that because it does make you a better player. I went hard most practices, but since Todd’s come in, he wants every drill to be up-tempo and I think it really helps,” Hall said.
It can’t just be practices of course, because Hall tallied 130 points in 120 games the past two years, but this year he has tried adjusting his play away from the puck, and he hasn’t found that comfort zone that will allow him to be productive offensively, defensively and away from the puck.
Based on our conversation yesterday, he feels he is much closer and is hoping to show that in the second half of the season. He knows his job is to produce points, and after the last two seasons he knows he can score with the best in the NHL, and if he can return to being a point-a-game player his team should win more games.
Nelson switched Teddy Purcell and Nail Yakupov last game and he’ll keep with those combinations tonight. He mentioned he was hoping that Purcell could help get Anton Lander going offensively.
Scrivens returns to the net. Viktor Fasth played well vs. Detroit, but it seems obvious the Oilers feel Scrivens is their starter.
The Oilers have allowed 47 more goals than they’ve scored, (89-136), while the Blackhawks are +35 in goal differential (123-88). But there are some other major differences between these teams.
- Chicago leads the NHL with 1,455 shots on goal. Los Angeles is second with 1,303. The Oilers are 24th with 1,139.
- The Oilers are actually very close in shots against to the Hawks. Chicago sits 15th in the NHL with 1,203, while Edmonton is 22nd allowing 1,234. The difference is the Hawks have allowed the fewest goals in the league at 88, while Edmonton sits 29th having let in 136.
- Edmonton’s goalies need to be better, there is no debate, but the Oilers allow way more odd man rushes than the Hawks. Every team gives up grade A chances in their own zone, but the Oilers allow far too many odd man rushes every game.
- The chart below shows team’s standings for goals against (I didn’t include empty net goals), and then on the right side I added how many shots against they allow and where that ranks in the league. Minnesota for example, if they were getting solid goaltending, would be a much better team. They allow the fewest shots in the league, but they are 21st in goals allowed. The Islanders surrender the 3rd fewest shots, but have given up the 20th most goals. The Islanders do give up more odd man rushes, but they need more saves from their goalies.
The bottom nine teams in goals against are also the bottom nine in allowing shots.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
From the Committed Indian:
The Hawks will continue what is now their last place tour of the West, yes Virginia the Wild have slipped behind the Avs, and see the last place team in the other division which would be the kabuki theater for and by monkeys that is the Edmonton Oilers. And while I know these guys fly on charter jets and stay in five-star hotels and all that, a back-to-back in St. Paul and then Edmonton seems a bit over the top. So I wouldn’t be shocked if the Hawks’ legs just aren’t there tonight. Hell, they haven’t always been there when they’ve had optimum rest. But thankfully, you don’t have to be all there when playing the Oil.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hawks have three times as many wins as the Oilers, 27 to 9 in 41 games. That is ridiculous. Hawks win 5-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Benoit Pouliot will not spear someone in the offensive zone.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Anton Lander scores his first goal of the season, giving him three points in five games.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
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- Matt Fraser: Wise beyond his years
- GDB 41.0 Halfway to where?
- GDB 39.0: Another re-tooling begins, Perron traded.
- GDB 38.0: Good Riddance 2014
- Thank you, thank you.
- The Nelson factor