Taylor Hall: The Red Hot Devil
By Patrick Hoffman
When current New Jersey Devil forward Taylor Hall was an Edmonton Oiler, things were quite awful.
While Hall, 26, played well with the Oilers, the rest of his team did not. The team constantly struggled, finished at or near the bottom of the division and the league, and never made the postseason.
When he was traded to the Devils prior to the 2016-17 season, things began to shift. Yes, the team was considered a rebuilding hockey club, but things were at least trending in the right direction.
Fast forward to today (February 19, 2018) and not only are the Devils in a playoff spot with 70 points, which is 6 points ahead of the second wild card spot, but they are only four points behind the Metropolitan leading Pittsburgh Penguins (As of February 19, 2018).
Leading it all for the Devils is Hall, who currently (As of February 19, 2018) has an 18-game point streak. As of this writing (February 19, 2018), Hall leads the team in goals (24), assists (38), and points (62) and is the team's best player on the ice night in and night out.
There are probably several reasons why Hall is playing so well. For starters, he IS the guy when it comes to the team's offense.
When he was on the Oilers, he was never the real offensive focal point. He was constantly grouped with the likes of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Connor McDavid.
On the Devils, he has stepped out of the shadows and has been the team's star. He has taken that responsibility on and has made it his own and has not only done everything that has been asked of him, but he has gone above and beyond to make this team more than competitive game in and game out.
Secondly, Hall really wants to play in the playoffs. He has been in the league for over seven years and has yet to even taste what it is like to be a part of postseason hockey.
While there is still over a month of hockey left to play, the Devils certainly have a chance to change that for Hall. Should the Devils manage to get into the playoffs, I would be willing to bet that Hall will raise his game another level, making him an even more dangerous player than he is right now.
Lastly, it is clear that Hall is having fun, The Devils are a team with a lot of youngsters who play an up tempo game with lots of energy, speed, and skill, all traits that fit Hall perfectly.
Should the Devils get into the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season, Hall will certainly be the main reason why.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.