When the Boston Bruins acquired Taylor Hall at the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, he immediately became one of their best players. Paired alongside David Krejci on the team’s second line, the newly formed partners were able to dominate on the ice together in a way that the Bruins’ hadn’t seen since from their second line since the days of No. 46 center Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, and later Jarome Iginla.
There was immediate excitement for Bruins’ fans as this was exactly the type of move that many had been demanding for years; though also typically a playmaking forward similar to Krejci, Hall had an established pedigree and was a legitimate star who could play alongside him. Unfortunately, the excitement was short-lived as Krejci would return back to the Czech Republic to play in front of his family last season, leaving Hall to play primarily alongside Charlie Coyle and Erik Haula last season.
Though Hall had a slow start to the season, the new calendar year saw him turn things around after David Pastrnak was moved to Hall’s line. This change, coupled with Haula also being added to the line, changed the entire dynamic of the Bruins’ second line and allowed Hall to look like a rejuvenated player in the second half of the season. The veteran would score just five goals and 14 points in the first 26 games of the season, including just three even-strength markers and one at five-on-five play. The second half of the season, kicking off on Jan. 1, saw Hall score 15 goals and 47 points in 55 games with 10 of these goals coming at even strength. It was quite the turnaround for Hall and exactly the way the team expected him to play when signing him to a four-year, $24 million contract extension in the offseason.
Hall and Krejci Reunion Should Garner Results
With Hall proving he could still perform at a high level without Krejci at center, there should be palpable excitement for what he can do with Krejci opting to return to the Bruins on a one-year deal this offseason.
When Hall and Krejci last played together, Hall scored eight goals and 14 points in just 16 regular season games. This is notable not only because of the results but because of how quickly these results occurred when the duo was formed. Krejci and Hall have both been excellent throughout their respective careers so it’s not entirely surprising that they performed well together, but building chemistry often takes time; with this union, the chemistry was instant and the results were plentiful.
Another notable statistic that should be mentioned is that the Bruins outscored opponents at a 14-1 clip at five-on-five when Krejci and Hall were on the ice together.
The hope is that these two can recreate this magic again during the 2022-23 season, especially if Pastrnak remains on the opposite flank. This will be integral to the Bruins’ success early, especially with so many major offseason injuries creating reasonable concern among fans to start the season.
Hall Will Need to Excel While Marchand is Injured
Included in that list of injured players is the Bruins’ top left winger, Brad Marchand. With Marchand set to miss the first few months of the season, newly re-signed Patrice Bergeron will need to find instant chemistry with a new linemate for a fair chunk of time. If anyone can get the best out of another player, it’s Bergeron, and Pavel Zacha seems like the most likely player to earn that opportunity out of training camp. Bergeron alone shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the load, though, and Hall will have to continue to excel alongside Krejci and perhaps Pastrnak if the team is going to have any chance of wading water and perhaps competing in the early stages of the season.
It’s unclear exactly how the lines are going to be deployed in Marchand’s absence, but that doesn’t really change anything for Hall. Though no one player should be expected to take on the brunt of the work while No. 63 is out of action, Hall is a player who has proven capable of dominating and legitimately being the best player in the league in the past; he won’t need to play at a Hart Trophy level, but he’ll need to bring his A-game to start the season.
This will certainly be easier with Krejci down the middle, and Hall should be more than up for the challenge when push comes to shove. Hall was able to cap off an excellent second half of his season with an offseason wedding that was celebrated by many Bruins’ teammates, including Haula who had already been traded earlier in the offseason. All things considered, Hall should be feeling pretty good about himself heading into the season which bodes well for the Bruins.