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.