It’s arguably difficult to get pumped about a hockey team that’s 2-6-2 in its last 10, unless that team is the Edmonton Oilers.
Fresh off a 5-2 road victory over the San Jose Sharks, a game in which they literally ran the struggling Sharks’ show in their own building, Edmonton head coach Tom Renney is hanging his proverbial coaching hat on a few bright spots.
Rookie phenom Taylor Hall is Renney’s latest “centre of attention”, so to speak. The Edmonton bench boss met with curious criticism after Hall was moved from the wing to centre the club’s top line.
The experiment, thus far, has been a pleasant surprise for the organization. Not only has Hall continued to light the red lamp, scoring a pair of goals against San Jose to bring his season total to a respectable 14 (14-12-26), three of which have been game winners, his defensive responsibilities have been equally impressive.
Perhaps most importantly, his face-off success rate (40% vs. San Jose), isn’t dominant, yet ironically strong on a team weak up the middle.
Hall will look to improve on his numbers in the circle when the Oil visit the Staples Centre tonight, against the struggling L.A. Kings (3-7-0 in last 10). Former Oiler Jarrett Stoll scored in the sixth round of the shootout to earn the Kings a hard-fought two points vs. Edmonton Dec. 23 in L.A.
Physical play, not exactly Edmonton’s calling card the past few seasons, was key in the Oilers’ victory over San Jose earlier this week, with hard-hitting blueliner Theo Peckham pasting several unassuming Shark forwards to the boards.
They will need a similar effort against Kopitar, Stoll, Johnson and company tonight if they hope to head into Anaheim Sunday riding a two-game winning streak.
In the meantime Oiler fans, chins up…sticks down.
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.