Oilers' Hall shines on road swing

Edmonton Oilers Taylor Hall had five goals and two assists in the seven consecutive games away from...

Edmonton Oilers Taylor Hall had five goals and two assists in the seven consecutive games away from Rexall Place. (PERRY MAH/QMI Agency Files)

Derek Van Diest, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:07 PM ET

DALLAS - The Edmonton Oilers were far from their best, but it’s tough to imagine Taylor Hall playing much better.

The Oilers winger was one of the lone bright spots in what could turn out to be the end of a playoff-contending road trip.

Hall had five goals and two assists in the seven consecutive games away from Rexall Place. He also hit three goalposts in the game against the New York Islanders where he failed to collect a point.

“I thought I played well and I tried to contribute as best I could,” said Hall. “I think that obviously I’m still doing something wrong, because we’re not winning. That needs to be the focal point for everybody in this room and that’s what I’m going to get back to, is playing as well defensively as I can to contribute to wins.”

Hall’s goal in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday afternoon extended his goal streak to four games.

He also scored in losses to the St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres and in a victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Hall currently has 14 goals and 15 assists in 33 games this season.

“He was excellent, we really missed him last year when we were on a stretch like this,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “I thought he was on a mission, he played really well and showed the passion that you have to have in order to win.”

The first overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Hall is no stranger to starting out on a last place team and leading them to a championship.

The Windsor Spitfires were a bottom feeder before Hall arrived to lead them to consecutive Memorial Cup championships.

The Oilers are hoping the Calgary native is able to do the same at the NHL level, and at no other point in his brief professional career has he looked more determined to do so.

“He wanted the puck all the time,” Renney said. “He wanted the responsibilities of his team’s performance, never mind his own. That’s where champions start.”

Having won just once on this latest road swing, the Oilers are nowhere near a championship and, in fact, are unlikely to play any meaningful games towards the end of the season, which was the team’s goal heading into the year.

But Hall’s play since returning from a shoulder injury, in general, and on this latest road trip in particular, is cause for optimism.

The Oilers just need to surround him and their other young stars with an adequate supporting cast.

This current edition plays well in spurts, but has trouble elevating their game when it’s on the line.

The Oilers have been tied going into the third period nine times this season and have yet to pull out a victory.

“We have to be a better team at closing games out,” Hall said. “I’m not sure if that’s maturity or whatever. We need to be a lot better in the third period of games. We score the first goal a lot in games, but we don’t seem to win them.”

In time, the Oilers hope they will, and if Hall continues his development at this pace, there’s little doubt he’ll be at the forefront.

The 20-year-old is already showing some of the leadership abilities demonstrated by another physically dominant player who went on to win six Stanley Cups and is in the Hall of Fame.

Assessing the road trip, Hall is not happy with the results, but knows his club is heading in the right direction.

“Well, 1-6 isn’t the result we were looking for,” he said. “But we did a lot of good things. I’m not trying to sugar coat it, I’m not trying to find a silver lining, but it’s true and anyone that watched the games saw that we competed with the best of them.

“We had a lot of really good efforts. It didn’t go our way, but we need to stay positive as a group, we need to stay together as a group, which is the main thing and try to turn it around.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNdvandiest


Videos

Photos