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Principe's Blog: Hall-lacious Hits

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall (Photo by Getty Images)

Taylor Hall plays one way. In fact it's the only way he knows how to play. If you are looking for words that closely describe his style one would be reckless. Unpredictable is another one. Dynamic, powerful and electrifying would be a few more. There aren't many players who have that combination of characteristics but also have the skill to go with it. That's makes him dangerous. The problem is does Taylor Hall make himself dangerous to himself? It's the question that's being asked once again around the Edmonton Oilers winger.

The reason is Saturday night and the game against Colorado when Hall got hammered by Ryan Wilson. He left the game and came back but only temporarily. Another hit or, better put, crosscheck by Kyle Quincey and that was it for Hall. An appointment with an MRI will reveal the damage. That will determine how long the former #1 pick is out of the lineup. For Hall's sake and the Oilers the hope is that it's a minor problem but it's a major issue. With all the characteristics he has Hall, in my mind, is becoming one of those players you will pay to see. An edge-of-your-seat kind of player who makes the fans edgy as well as they await his next move.

I'm not saying he is Alexander Ovechkin but I will say he reminds of the great 8. They play the game in similar fashions. While Alexander the Great may not be the game's greatest player he has the greatest aura about him. He might not be better than Sidney Crosby but he just has something about him that makes you want to watch and Taylor Hall has some of that too. However here's where the differences between Ovechkin and Hall become notable. Size would be one thing. Alex is a good 3-4 inches taller and about 30 pounds heavier. That allows Ovechkin to play his style. The other thing is that he's also doing the hitting instead of being hit. The Capitals winger has laid out more people then have done that to him. Where for Hall, unfortunately, the trend is the opposite.

There's the hit by Ryan Wilson on the weekend. In the pre-season Alex Edler hit Hall and then did it again in the regular season. Remember last season when Drew Doughty came across the blueline and stapled Hall into the side boards. Almost always afterwards Taylor is mad at himself for putting himself in a vulnerable position. Then when opponents aren't trying to track down the 20 year old and knock him out he's nearly doing it himself. For example running into the post against Chicago. What you love about Taylor Hall also scares you to death about him. I believe that Hall is destined for greatness and that as the team grows he's a 50 goal scorer waiting to happen. I don't want him to change his style but instead just manage it better. Understanding danger before it's too late will be a skill that he needs to develop. It's something Eric Lindros never figured out but something Taylor Hall will and the Oilers will make sure of that.


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