You won’t find many people in the hockey world who were surprised that Taylor Hall was the number one pick, but he was still shaken up when he heard the announcement.
“I was so shocked,” Hall said. “I was shaking in my seat. I got up to the podium, or whatever it is, and I was shaking so much I couldn’t even put my jersey on. I’m just so happy. My whole family’s so happy. It means a lot to us.”
It also means a lot to the future of the Edmonton Oilers. The team suffered from an absolutely atrocious 2009-10 season, one that I’ve often called “Murphy’s Law on ice.” They were – by far – the worst team in the NHL. High-level winger Ales Hemsky’s season ended abruptly due to injury while Nikolai Khabibulin’s nightmares only began on the ice (and in his surgeon’s room). Really – aside from the unexpectedly productive Dustin Penner – there weren’t many bright sides to look at in a dismal season for the struggling Canadian franchise.
Although the team has some nice prospects, much of the weight of a battered fan base will be placed on Hall’s shoulders. Does the young rookie-to-be feel burdened by the pressure?
“Not really. I thought about that. There are always expectations no matter what you do.” Hall said. “Obviously being a number one pick, I have to go in there and have a job to do, and I think I have the tools to do it. I know I have the confidence and the drive, so that’s what’s going to push me every day to be a better player and help the team out.”
Hall seems like he’s accustomed to the attention and spotlight of being a highly sought after prospect. It’s difficult to argue with his results up to this point, either, as he earned two straight tournament MVPs and two Memorial Cups in a row as part of the incredible Windsor Spitfires. (The Spitfires also featured No. 12 pick Cam Fowler, among other quality players.)
The 18-year-old future of the Oilers franchise must go a long way before he can justify all the hype. But on some level, Hall has already been on quite the journey.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.