While the Edmonton Oilers haven’t been good lately — they’ve lost 15 of their last 19 games — the same cannot be said of sophomore sensation Taylor Hall. The 20-year-old notched seven points during Edmonton’s recent seven-game road trip and is riding a four-game goalscoring streak.
His play caught the eye of many, including head coach Tom Renney.
“He was on a mission this trip, showing the passion you need in order to win in this league,” Renney told the Edmonton Journal. It seems the Oilers bench boss not only recognized Hall’s level of play — he milked it for all it was worth. Renney played Hall 20:16 in New York, 21:37 in Buffalo, 22:33 against Dallas and a season-high 24:18 in Vancouver.
“Taylor wanted the puck all the time,” Renney continued. “He wanted the responsibility of his team’s performance, never mind his own. That’s where champions start.”
A big part of this recent success was avoiding injury and playing through pain. Hall missed 25 games in his first season-and-a-half at the NHL level but was a warrior on the trip, shrugging off a high stick to the face from Minnesota’s Nate Prosser (“looked like he’d been stung by a bee, his lip swelled so badly,” wrote the Journal’s Jim Matheson) and another errant stick from St. Louis’ Roman Polak. The latter cost Hall two shifts and 10 stitches on his earlobe, yet he still managed to score his 13th goal of the season.
All told, Hall now has 29 points in 32 games and had it not been for November’s shoulder injury, would be in the neighborhood of 40 points. Considering fellow sophomore Jordan Eberle is already there (he leads the Oilers with 43 points) and rookie phenom Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn’t far behind (35 points in 38 games),Edmonton’s woes should be put in perspective. Sure, the Oilers are losing now…but if the big three keep progressing like this, the future will be filled with wins.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi ranks among the NHL’s most outspoken executives. Even so, his discussion of what he calls Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.” (Bold claim: the production part was probably the bigger sticking point.)
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the Lombardi and the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.