a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Monday, 16 January 2012

01/16/12 Hall Heating Up

Taylor Hall is like a freight train. He had a bit of a slow start to the season with 11 points in his first 17 games, but ever since the blowout in Chicago where he scored his second career hat trick he's been gathering momentum. Now that he's moving, he's really moving.

Before his injury, Hall had 7-11-18 in 22 games, and 60 shots on goal (2.7 per game). Since returning, he's put up 8-6-14 in 14 games and has 57 shots on goal (4.1 shots per game).

Including the 9-2 drubbing of the Hawks, Hall has scored 12 goals in his last 19 games played and collected 20 points.

Hall has only been held without a shot on goal three times all year. In fact, November 26th was the last time Hall didn't register a shot in a game, which was when he was felled by his shoulder injury and only played 7 shifts. When he's in for the entire game, he shoots. Under those circumstances he hasn't been held without a shot since November 8th, which is a stretch of more than two months and 22 games. He's leading the team in shots on goal as well, despite the fact that the next-closest Oiler (Ryan Smyth) has played eight more games than Hall has.

Early in the season in seemed that Tyler Seguin had ended the debate about which of the two players was better, as he was absolutely lighting up the league. But Hall is quickly closing the gap on the young man who went directly after him in the 2010 draft. Seguin has 17-21-38 in 40 games this season (0.43 goals per game and 0.95 points per game). Hall has improved to 15-16-31 in 36 games (0.42 goals per game and 0.86 points per game), and he's doing it all on one of the worst teams in the NHL, which has also been ravaged by injuries.

After a hot start, Seguin has got 6 goals and 17 points in his last 25 games, while Hall has been moving in the opposite direction. Both are great players and well deserving of their draft position, but determining which is best isn't as clear as it was earlier this year.

Without a doubt, Taylor Hall has been the Oilers' best player for quite some time, and definitely since Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle went down with injuries. He's taken control of this team and his passion is on display every night. Hall is coming into his own.

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