Rested Hall says playoffs possible
DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
|Oilers forward Taylor Hall says his ankle has recovered during the off-season. (CODIE McLACHLAN/QMI Agency)
EDMONTON - It’s been a longer off-season than usual for Taylor Hall.
Prior to joining the Edmonton Oilers as the first overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Hall had been accustomed to extended playoff runs that left him little time to re-energize during the summer.
However, his season-ending ankle injury — and the Oilers failure once again to qualify for the playoffs — left the Calgary native plenty to time to recover this off-season.
“It’s been a good summer, although it was a little too long for my liking,” said Hall, currently taking part in Perry Pearn’s three-on-three camp at the K of C Twin Arenas. “Hopefully this year is a little bit shorter and we can make the playoffs and can do some damage. But it was good for my body. I got a lot of work done in that aspect and my ankle is all healed up, so it’s all good.”
Hall, 19, finished with 22 goals and 20 assists in 65 games with the Oilers last season.
He was one of the few bright spots in what turned out to be another frustrating year for the club.
However, Hall’s year came to a premature end when he twisted his ankle in a fight with Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett.
“The ankle is good,” Hall said. “I haven’t had a problem with it. After the season, I rehabbed it for another month and a half, so I did three and a half months of rehab for the injury. It was kind of a tough time, but I’m glad I worked as hard as I could on it. I haven’t even tweaked it yet, so it feels very good.”
The fight was Hall’s first in the NHL, and even though it proved costly in his quest for league rookie of-the-year honours, he doesn’t expect it to change his approach when it comes to fighting.
“I don’t think it would really cross my mind. If anything, maybe I would focus on going down shoulder first and not twisting my ankle,” Hall said. “It was just a freak injury, something I’ve never seen before, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to fight ever again. Whatever happens, will happen.”
Regardless, the injury allowed Hall to take an extended break between seasons for the first time since his minor hockey days.
He twice led the Windsor Spitfires to the Memorial Cup championship before joining the Oilers.
“It was a good off-season, I was able to get the proper amount of rest, but was also able to work hard when I should have been,” Hall said. “I feel better than I have going into previous seasons. Whether that translates into better play or not I’m not sure yet, but I hope it will.”
Heading into the season, Hall is hoping the Oilers are able to be able to climb out of basement and challenge for a playoff spot for the first time since going to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final in 2006.
Some hockey pundits have picked the team to finish last in their conference for a third consecutive year.
“I don’t think we’re going to finish last,” said Hall. “I honestly think the playoffs are a realistic goal for us. A lot of things are going to have to happen for that. Hopefully we can stay injury-free for a good portion of the season. I think just the overall improvement of the players from last season to this is going to be vast and we’re looking forward to it.”