There is no denying the offensive abilities of Taylor Hall. The Oilers forward has 25 points (11-14-25) in 24 games this season. Today, he was named the NHL's 2nd Star of the week for the period ending December 8. During that span, Hall scored four goals and added two assists.
"It's good," said Hall. "I feel like I've been playing pretty well lately. I've definitely improved in my own end since the start of the year, and I feel like I'm trending upward. I hope that continues."
Hall has shown his ability to put the team on his back and lift them up offensively, but now his focus has turned to the defensive part of his game.
"Taylor Hall is always going to get his offence, he is," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "He's strong, he has speed, he's got good vision and he has good hands. The place that Taylor is improving, not only from the eyes of the coaches but our people upstairs, is his defensive play. It's small, little things that we have been promoting with him and he's taken to heart and he's getting better at. He's turning into a much more rounded player and he's a horse. When he's on, he carries our team. He gives us energy and he's a guy that we look to, to produce in a number of different situations. He's been very good as of late."
Sometimes improving defence has everything to do with slowing things down.
Eakins said, "It's awareness, it's what's going on around him, it's protecting the 'good ice'. We call it the 'good ice' all the time. Taylor's about speed and he's about momentum. Speed is your friend until it isn't. Coming back into our zone, talking about protecting that 'good ice', a lot of times you have to stop in it. It was one thing that was not there at all in his game early, but he's taken the necessary strides to get better at it. He still has work to go, he knows that, but he's taking great notice of how important the defensive game is…"
Hall is happy with his improvement defensively and says that team success has been a factor.
"I like the way that I'm playing defensively and obviously, our team is scoring a lot of goals lately and that's helping," said Hall. "We're winning games and in turn, that's going to create some individual success. I've been shooting the puck a lot lately, I've been getting shots to the net and whoever I am playing with, we seem to have some good chemistry. Like I said, I hope that continues and it has to. It's fun to win. Even though we're not winning every game, I feel like we're doing the right things and we're on the right track."