Hall's first comeback

Thursday marks the first time in Taylor Hall’s career that he will return to the lineup after...

Thursday marks the first time in Taylor Hall’s career that he will return to the lineup after injury.(PERRY MAH/QMI Agency)

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

It’s surprising, considering the reckless abandon with which he plays the game, but Thursday marks the first time in Taylor Hall’s career that he will return to the lineup after injury.

The sophomore winger is expected to play when the Edmonton Oilers travel to Phoenix to face the Coyotes.

“Last year I didn’t get to come back, this is kind of new territory for me,” said Hall. “I’m just working as hard as I can in practice to get the timing back that’s going to help me out.

“I have to do a test (Wednesday) just to see if my fitness is at par. I have a feeling it will be and if it’s good on that front, then I think I’ll be ready.”

Hall has been out since Dec. 9, after suffering a shoulder injury against the Colorado Avalanche.

The Oilers winger sustained the injury when he was hammered into the boards by Avalanche defenceman Ryan Wilson.

He returned to the contest, but a subsequent crosscheck by Kyle Quincey put Hall out for the remainder of the game.

“I’m excited to get back in the lineup, it’s been a long time,” Hall said. “Seven games has felt like an eternity and I want to get back out there, help the guys as much as I can and get back to finding my game.”

Hall had seven goals and 11 assists in 22 games prior to getting hurt.

The Oilers, meanwhile, have gone on to lose five of the seven games he’s been out of the lineup.

“He helps give us attack depth,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “I think that if you look at the way the lines are set up right now, each one is different from the others in terms of how they can be effective offensively.

“Taylor happens to work hard both ways and we need that part of the game as well in terms of coming back to his own end.”

Hall has been working out hard to try and rehab his shoulder and get back into the lineup. On Tuesday he was involved in a spirited practice with the club.

The Oilers have had the benefit of four days between games after losing 3-0 to the Calgary Flames Saturday.

“There were a couple of instances (Monday) and today where I was really battling and felt good,” said Hall. “It held up and it feels strong, so I’m pretty confident that I’m going to be feeling good.”

Last year, Hall suffered a season-ending ankle injury when he got tangled up after a fight with Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett.

He had the entire off-season to recover and didn’t have to worry about trying to regain his timing when returning at training camp.

Such won’t be the case this time around as Hall will find himself playing catchup trying to make up for lost time.

“I think timing is probably the biggest part of it,” Hall said. “In practice I’ve tried to work as hard as I can to simulate a game-type atmosphere. To be honest, in my whole junior career, in my NHL career, I’ve never come back from an injury.”

Skating on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky on Tuesday, Hall will probably start with the pair against the Coyotes.

It’s a good fit for the former first overall pick who was developing a good rapport with the veterans prior to getting hurt.

“I like playing with Horc and Hemmer,” Hall said. “Before I got hurt, I was really feeling good with those two guys and they’re guys that I’ve played with for the last year and-a-half now so we kind of have some chemistry.

“I like playing with Horc because he’s really good in his own end, he wins a lot of face-offs and that means we start out with the puck a lot. Hemmer is so skilled and so creative that you have to be ready at all times and over time, I’ve gotten used to that and I love playing with him now.”

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The Oilers record with him in the lineup was 12-8-2, not counting the game in Colorado where he was hurt.

They’ve gone 2-5-1 without him, which includes the Colorado game which they were winning before he left.

I can give you the results of the Oilers last eight games, starting in Colorado if that would work.

EDM 2 - COL 5

NSH 2 - EDM 1

MIN 3- EDM 3 (SO)

CBJ 3 - EDM 6

CAL 5 - EDM 3

CAR 5 - EDM 3

COL 1 - EDM 4

EDM 0 - CAL 3


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