When people see a hard knee-to-knee collision, the general reaction is to a) wince at the possibility for something serious and b) debate the dirtiness of said check, if you’re into that sort of discussion.
New Jersey Devils fans must have grimaced last night, as Taylor Hall had a real scare in a collision with Kurtis MacDermid of the Los Angeles Kings, which you can witness in the video above this post’s headline.
There may have been extra grunts as this was arguably garbage time in the game, as the Devils were up 4-0 in a game they would eventually win 5-1, and Hall put on a show, including scoring this goal:
Well, Hall and the Devils didn’t go totally unscathed, but most N.J. fans will breathe sighs of relief at today’s update. Head coach John Hynes labels Hall day-to-day, with Thursday’s game at Montreal being ruled out, but there’s no structural damage to the prolific forward’s knee. The injury is considered a contusion.
So, a mostly dodged bullet there, and while the Devils are a little damaged, the injury news is generally heartening.
Like Hall, Kyle Palmieri has been ruled out for Thursday’s contest against the Habs. The Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross reports that Palmieri is in a walking boot and will probably miss a week of action. With Marcus Johansson also a little banged-up, the Devils must show some resiliency, yet the bounces go their way to some extent even here, as other teams are missing key players for longer spans of time.
This injury update seems like a worthwhile excuse to exalt Hall’s fantastic 2017-18 season, so let’s take a quick look at how special he’s been.
Hall of a time
The 26-year-old (yes, he’s still that young, and his birthday came on Nov. 14) had a perfectly fine first season with New Jersey, scoring 20 goals and 53 points in 72 games. It was the third straight season in which Hall scored on fewer than 10 percent of his shots on goal, connecting on 8.4 percent. He was an impressive possession factor, as he’s been for much of his career.
In 2017-18, he’s producing some of the best work of his woefully underrated career.
Hall has 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 30 contests, leading the Devils by 11 points. With a 1.03 points-per-game average, he’s on one of the best paces of his career, and if this knee issue is truly minor, he could set some career-highs. Sadly, inopportune injuries have been almost as much of an unfortunate theme for Hall as has been “lottery luck.”
It will be tough for Hall to top his best-ever work in 2013-14, when he scored 27 goals and 80 points in 75 contests, but perhaps he’ll finish closer to 80 GP and match at least one of those marks?
Of course, Hall likely values a possible first playoff run more than any individual milestones.
You hear that sort of talk quite frequently with players, yet that cliche is virtually guaranteed to be the honest truth for Hall. If anyone deserves the sort of bounces that have been going the Devils’ way so far this season, it’s this long-suffering left winger.
So here’s hoping that his knee issue really is minor, and he can get back to reminding observers that he’s one of the best wingers in the NHL.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.