Wherever he plays, Hall adds a lot to the Oilers lineup.
“He’s definitely a big part of our team,” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “He’s a driving force out there for sure. He makes defencemen think twice about a lot of things. When he’s driving the puck wide he’s creating a lot of space for everybody else on the ice. If we get him back it’s going to be great for us and we look forward to getting him back into the lineup as soon as possible.”
Hall has missed 23 of the last 24 games with an ankle injury, and yet he still holds the third spot in Oilers scoring with 11 goals and 19 assists for 30 points.
“It’s huge for us. You bring a guy like Taylor Hall in the lineup and it’s always a positive,” Benoit Pouliot said of Hall closing in on a return. “He was pretty fast out there today. You could see him and he didn’t really seem to be hurting too much so he’s been out quite a while now. It’s obviously tough to come back, in the first few games, to get back into it. He looks pretty good so hopefully he gets back in there and helps us out.”
The Oilers will meet tomorrow morning to decide if Hall is ready to return to game action, as the Oilers host the Flyers.
Taylor Hall skated today in light blue colours today at practice, as opposed to his recent yellow non-contact jersey. Logic dictates that he is getting closer to his return to game action, coming off his ankle injury.
“In the case of Taylor, we’re going to see how he is tomorrow morning and we’ll make a decision collectively as a staff and with Taylor to see what we’re going to do moving forward,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said.
“He has been out for a while,” Nelson said. “It’s one thing to skate in practice and it’s another thing to play a game where you are working the corners and that. Right now, we haven’t made a concrete decision of where he will play. He was playing with Anton today. That’s something we’ll discuss as a group. First and foremost, we have to make sure he’s 100% healthy.”
Hall has missed 23 of the last 24 games and says whenever he comes back, it may take a few shifts to get up to speed.
“It’s really tough to get 100% without playing games,” Hall said. “You can bag yourself as much as you want in practice. It just seems like you get in the game and you just can’t relax as easy and you don’t have those breaks like you do in practice. No matter if I practice for two weeks more, I think if I came back in a game I’d still be tired the first couple shifts.”
Senior University of Denver defenceman Joey LaLeggia was named a Top Ten Finalist for the 2015 Hobey Baker Award today. The award is presented annually to the top men’s college hockey player in the United States.
LaLeggia, 22, was drafted in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.
In 34 games this season, LaLeggia has 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points. He leads all NCHC defencemen in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals (3), power play goals (5) and shots on goal (129). He ranks third overall in the NCAA in scoring for a defenceman.
LaLeggia has been named the NCHC Defenceman of the Week five times this season, and was named the NCHC Player of the Month for both January and February.
LaLeggia is from Burnaby, B.C. and played for the Penticton Vees in the BCHL for three years before leaving for school at the University of Denver.
The Hobey Baker Hat Trick (top three) will be announced April 2, and the winner will be named on April 10, during the NCAA Frozen Four.
LaLeggia and the Pioneers play the University of Miami at Ohio in the Semifinal of the NCHC Tournament this Friday.
He has yet to sign his entry level contract.
VIDEO: PRACTICE: Tuesday at Rexall Place | RAW: Todd Nelson | RAW: Hamilton | RAW: Yakupov
AUDIO: Todd Nelson | Nail Yakupov | Ryan Hamilton
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at Rexall Place.
Line combinations based on jersey colour:
Last night, Oilers forward Matt Fraser was helped off the ice after a hit to the head by Leafs Nazem Kadri.
“You obviously don’t want to see that,” said Ryan Hamilton, Fraser’s linemate. “You always want to stick up (for) and protect your teammates. I didn’t really get a good view of it. I just saw kind of the aftermath so I just kind of got in there in the scrum. It was kind of a little hectic there. We didn’t know exactly what happened right away, then we saw the replay. Obviously, he took a pretty good one on the chin. I don’t know if it was incidental or not but he still made good contact on the chin. Obviously, it’s not fun watching one of your teammates get hit like that.”
There was no update after the game, but Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson provided one today after practice.
“He was concussed,” Nelson said. “We are going to follow protocol and we’ll reevaluate him again tomorrow, but I can say that he’s doing well.”
Nelson had a chance to watch the play and says it’s an unfortunate part of hockey.
“It was a play where (Fraser) was reaching, he was down a bit and we’ve seen those hits before where a player comes in and finishes his check,” Nelson said. “Sometimes, when the opposing player is bending over and trying to reach for the puck, those things happen. It’s the game of hockey. It happens.”
The Oilers may look to recall a player from Oklahoma City. The Barons play tonight at home against Milwaukee.
The Oilers are on the ice at Cosol Energy Center in Pittsburgh for practice.
Pouliot had maintenance day.
Todd Nelson was a Paul Coffey fan, watching him play for the Oilers and Penguins from his hometown of Prince Albert, SK.
“I enjoyed the way he played the game,” Nelson said. “Let’s face it, when he picked up the puck and got his feet moving, he was pretty to watch. He was the player I always wanted to be.”
Nelson was drafted by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of the 1989 NHL Draft. He’d get his first call up with the Penguins on November 23, 1991, filling in for an ill Ulf Samuelsson. And guess who was there to greet him when he walked through the door.
“As soon as I walked in, Paul Coffey came over to me and welcomed me to the team. Second guy was Mario (Lemieux).”
The Oilers interim coach only played one game for the Penguins in his career, but it was a good time to be a part of the organization. Being greeted by Coffey upon his arrival was just one of the moments from his stint with Pittsburgh Nelson will never forget.
“It was a time they were winning Stanley Cups and I was a young guy just trying to cut my teeth in pro hockey,” Nelson said. “It was quite a time for me because we had so many great players in the organization. Walking into that dressing room, you were somewhat starstruck because you had quite a few hall of famers there. It was a good two-year run for them and I was fortunate to play one game for them.”
Although he is having a promising season, 21-year-old Oscar Klefbom has had some downs to go with the ups. The last two games are a perfect example of a young defencemen experiencing the peaks and valleys of development.
Against Chicago, Klefbom was excellent. The blueliner played 26:23 against one of the best teams in the league, recording seven shots on goal, two hits and three blocked shots. The game against Carolina was a different story as Klefbom saw his minutes cut to 20:09 and he finished -3 with a couple giveaways and no shots on net.
The Oilers expect a bounce-back game from the young defender.
“We expect that with a young guy like Oscar,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said. “You’re going to have nights like Chicago and then last night was a little bit of a tough one, but we expect him to bounce back strong tonight. That’s the way it’s going to be, especially for young defencemen. I think it’s a hard position to establish yourself in the National Hockey League and there are always going to be ups and downs. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, you do have those tough nights. But just knowing the past experience of Oscar, he does bounce back.”
The Oilers have taken the ice in Raleigh for their practice ahead of tomorrow's game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Derek Roy is not on the ice. He is just out for a maintenance day.
Lander skated on 2nd line today w/ Roy out for a maintenance day. The #Oilers centre is getting closer to return, but will not play vs. CAR— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) March 7, 2015
The Oilers have taken the ice for practice at Rexall Place.
Hamilton-(Lander & Pitlick rotating)-Fraser