SUN Hockey Pool

Hall hits the ice

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:19 AM ET

EDMONTON - The ice was right there, so whats Taylor Hall going to do? Not skate?

Fat chance.

When you were born to be a hockey player, a fresh, empty sheet is almost impossible to resist.

So, with the rest of the Edmonton Oilers working out in the team gym, and with the blessing of the training staff, the injured winger went for his first twirl since banging up his shoulder in Denver last Saturday.

Its a good feeling to be out there and doing things that I didnt think Id be doing this far ahead, said the 20-year-old sophomore. Im not sure if they thought I was going to be out there as soon as this. It feels good to be out so fast and a little bit ahead of schedule.

To be out there shooting pucks, feeling the puck again feels nice.

Hall didnt take any slap shots (have to take it easy on the shoulder), just a few soft wristers.

I actually wasnt supposed to take any shots at all, he said.

But the pucks were right there, whats he supposed to do not shoot?

Sometimes its just natural, he grinned. I took a couple and it felt good, it felt strong. Ive very happy with how it went.

What were doing right now is getting it as strong as possible and making it as durable as possible. With any injury there are always going to be some lingering effects but as far as it goes right now, its pretty promising.

With back-to-back games Friday and Saturday the available ice time will dry up for him, which is fine by everyone.

Im sure in the next couple of days theyre going to be holding me back a little bit, making sure I come back when Im really good, he said. The biggest test will be when I get some contact in and get some bumps. Without contact you cant really tell.

ALSO ON THE MEND

Defenceman Corey Potter also took advantage of the open ice, skating for the first time since his sprained ankle two weeks ago.

It seems like its going pretty good, said one of the biggest surprises of the season. I think Im on track. Its two weeks in now and doctors were saying about four. So I still have to heal up and get better and get back in shape.

Ive talked to some guys and they say its a pain threshold that you have to get through and its going to re-occur throughout the season, so its just going to be something I have to deal with.

There is never a good time to get injured, but it is particularly frustrating for Potter, who, after five years in the minors, had finally been given a shot and was making the very best of it.

Definitely bad timing, for sure, he said. I felt like I was starting to get comfortable and getting in the groove of things. Its unfortunate that it had to happen at that time but its part of the game and Ill deal with it.

CLOSING IN

Sam Gagner scored a beauty on Wednesday night, but is still stuck on zero goals for the season.

His shootout marker against the Minnesota Wild doesnt count towards his total, but its another sign that hes closing in on his game.

I feel like Ive been playing better the last little while and Im gaining confidence from that, said the 22-year-old forward. You have to gain confidence from every thing, whether its a blocked shot or a good little play, so a shootout goal definitely helps that.

Gagner had really good jump in training camp before a high ankle sprain shut him down for the first six games of the season. He came back, but just wasnt as quick and sharp with the puck as before and found himself playing third-line winger.

There was a stretch there where I wasnt playing my best hockey and I knew that, he said. I wanted to get back to the way I know I can play. I feel the last few games Ive been there. Im moving my feet more I have the puck on my stick more, Im making plays.

I have to be happy with that. There has to be a level of urgency to try and produce and score goals but at the same time I just have to relax a little bit and know its going to come.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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