Hall makes statement for Oilers

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:59 AM ET

Somebody had do it.

Somebody needed to make a statement.

It took until the second period for someone to step up and stand out. But when it happened, there was a whale of a statement made for the future in the final game of 2010 for the Edmonton Oilers.

And it was Taylor Hall who finally did it.

It was Hall who got physical. He crashed the net. He drew a penalty. He scored the goal which changed the body language for the period, the game and maybe, to some degree, for the season.

“He’s certainly capable of that. He’s shown clearly that he can grab hold of a game and start to make a difference,” said coach Tom Renney.

“The beauty of it is that it comes so natural to him. It’s not something you have to try to pull out of him. He sees what’s required and does it.

“It’s just innate. That’s not really something you can teach. If you don’t have that character in your DNA ...

“I can’t encourage it out of anybody. The beauty of it is that he and some others got us going. And the team did respond to that,” said Renney.

It didn’t make much difference to the standings. But it made a lot of difference about how this hockey club and the people who pay to watch them play, will be able to look at the Oilers going into the New Year.

“It’s huge,” said Renney. “We can’t disintegrate here.

“We’re an NHL team. These guys are under contract and in the National Hockey League for a reason. They have the ability to play. They have the ability to cope and deal with things. They have demonstrated that, not necessarily for all of them at this level, but they are showing that. That’s what we’re here to deal with.

“We can’t start feeling sorry for ourselves. Every team has injuries and troubles of some sort. That’s the way it is.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity to man up and learn more about themselves as players and ourselves as a team. Even as an organization.

“A game like tonight illuminates a lot of things. I’m hoping it illuminates what we are capable of in respect to our character and ability to push back.”

The minute it became obvious that Ryan Whitney was going to miss maybe months instead of weeks, it was obvious a statement had to be made in this game. The young Oilers needed to show up and try to show the league they weren’t going to roll over and play dead like the guys here last year.

Would losing their top point-getter, with the most minutes played and the highest plus-minus, result in an empty effort to telegraph a long second half of the season? Were they willing to wave the white flag?

A 3-0 early deficit seemed to say that.

They showed up soft, didn’t hit anybody, didn’t compete and didn’t skate against a team with speed to burn.

But Hall basically took the ice in the second period and seemed to say, “Would everybody here kindly step to the rear and let a winner lead the way.”

Hall said there are times to take the bull by the horns and that’s what he tried to do, despite the fact he’s the youngest guy on the team.

“Sometimes when the game isn’t going your way, the best way to change it is just to get physical and go to the net.”

He said it was important, not just for the game, but for a team in a four-game losing streak, which had lost six of the last seven and had only won six out of 18 home games all season.

“We definitely needed a really strong effort. I think it was really important for the young guys to just go out there and just do whatever we could do to help win the second period. I think there were two or three shifts there by our line that turned the game around for us.”

Indeed. And all of a sudden, Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner got it going and Andrew Cogliano ended up playing one of the best games of his NHL career.

It wasn’t a win as the Oilers, without Linus Omark in the lineup, lost 4-3 to the Colorado Avalanche in a shootout.

But ...

“We’ll take that point,” said Hall.

“That’s a really good character win,” he said of the loss.

“We didn’t get the two points but it feels really good in here.”

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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