There are certain plays that live on, following a player long after the final horn blows, long after the nightly highlight show rolls on to the next Toronto Maple Leafs discussion. Taylor Hall made one of those plays yesterday afternoon, a twisting, falling, full-speed trapeze act that ended in a contortion demonstration and a goal. Hall immediately sprung to his feet and celebrated like a Timbit scoring his first. Mike Haynes and Peter McNab, the Avalanche broadcast crew on The Altitude Network were nonplussed upon their initial viewing. It wasn't until a second and third look at the replay that they realized the full scope of what Hall had done.
Hall's goal was a breathtaking display of all of his physical attributes and abilities. It's why we call him Cannonball, it why some fans hold their breath every time he winds up in the neutral zone. Though the Oilers went on to lose to the Avs in a post-overtime series of coin flips, Hall's goal will outlive the loss and outlive a third consecutive bottom-of-the-league finish.
- Ryan Whitney led all Oilers in even strength ice time at 21:15. Since the Tom Gilbert trade, Tom Renney's defensive management has been curious. Dennis explained it in his last column: Schultz has been a decidely third pairing defenseman and on some occasions has played less than four min a game then Corey Potter. So, what are we missing? Or, what’s Schultz missing?
- While the playing time yesterday was more balanced, Ryan Whitney's one-legged defense, regardless of power play time is an odd thing to put out in front as your number one option. Even with the rise of Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry, Renney has made it clear that he misses Tom Gilbert.
- The refereeing was abysmal. Linus Omark was pitchfork/can opened in the first period and couldn't draw a call. Ales Hemsky's game-tying goal was disallowed in one of the worst calls I've seen since...last week. I wonder if it's time the league started a public explanation of referee demerits to make it clear to the fans how refs are managed and punished and eventually selected for the playoffs.
- More to the handling of the defense: Nick Schultz led the Oilers in offensive zonestart percentage. Schultz is supposed to be a shutdown defense-first, defense-only defenseman, yet he's fifth in ES TOI and he's being deployed in the offensive zone.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins only took one defensive zone draw, but went 0-6 in the offensive zone and was 2-11 in the faceoff circle overall. His faceoff percentage dropped to 36.8%, and now he's got serious work to avoid the bottom of the barrel.