“Dynamic is the word that comes to mind,” goaltender Cory Schneider said when The Hockey Writers asked him what makes his new New Jersey Devils teammate Taylor Hall such a great goal scorer. Schneider would certainly be one to know as he saw plenty of Hall’s abilities on display when they played out west for Vancouver and Edmonton respectively. “There are only a handful of players in the league who are truly dynamic with the puck and I think he’s one of them.”
“He can carry it, he can make the sauce pass and find open men, he can take it hard to the net. We’ve seen him score every way so far: deflection, rebound, a shot; he’s got a good nose for the net. He’s one of these guys that likes to be around the net and likes to score goals – those are important guys to have and obviously he’s scored some big ones for us already this year.” Through the first five games of the season, Hall has three goals, two of them via the power play and he has both of New Jersey’s game-winning goals.
Taylor Hall introduced himself to the Devils fans with authority —a two-goal performance at the home opener:
So naturally we had to ask the Devils netminder if he thinks that Hall is Taylor-Made for this team. “Yeah, if you want to use that,” Schneider replied with a chuckle, “you said it, not me.” Hall possesses all of the abilities that head coach John Hynes wanted to be the DNA of the team they are building here in New Jersey: Fast. Attacking. Supportive.
“He drives territory. He drives possession. He brings energy to your team. He brings energy to your building,” said Hynes about Hall. “He fills all of those qualities. I think when you look at the league today, it’s about establishing and playing a territorial game. Having the opportunity to play a lot on the offensive side of the red line, put teams on their heels, be able to have a high shot volume, a high shot total. The game is fast.”
Hall says he feels really comfortable in New Jersey, where the spotlight is on him, but nowhere near as much as it was in Edmonton where every move he made was documented by the Canadian media. There is some pressure on him, to be sort of a scoring savior for the Devils, but his presence alone is making the players around him better too.
“Hynes stressed in the second intermission (of game vs. Wild) that we have to trust the process, and not focus on the results,” explained Hall. “We had to start winning battles, we had to start getting chances, Grade-A chances – and eventually they’re going to go in. You can’t just go out and say you want to score goals you have to focus on the process of getting there.”
Devilish Dynamic Duo
“We played a couple of shifts in the preseason, and now a couple of games too so, it’s great,” Devils rookie center Pavel Zacha said of Hall after their home opener while grinning. “He’s a fast player, we just had some shifts in their zone and some scoring chances. He played great tonight, two goals.”
“Not every chance you get is going to go in in this league. Sometimes you can’t miss and sometimes, you can’t score. He’s going to have a long career,” Hall said regarding Zacha. “I think we’ve seen him get better each and every game this year to the point where he had the puck a lot tonight, he had some great chances. Eventually, those are going to go in, there’s going to be goals that he’ll score where he doesn’t even need to shoot. He just has to stay focused on the process, just like everyone else.”
“We’re happy, for the most part, where we’re at on the defensive side and obviously our goaltending has been phenomenal. It’s a long season, there are going to be ups and downs, there’s going to be times where we score six goals on 24 shots in a game. It’s about the process, it’s about our structure and the way that we can play, the way that we can consistently play every night. In saying that you want to score more than two goals a game.”
“You almost rely on him too much,” Hall said of Schneider. “He’s so good in there. When I’m sitting on the bench and I can’t really see the end result of a shot, I don’t even panic because I know that he is going to make the saves. He’s been our backbone. He’s the best player on our team. The way that he’s able to just give us stability back there has been awesome.”
“It’s good to get a win no matter what the situation is. I think we see that if we just keep plugging away and playing the way that we want, goals are going to start going in; and if we have a goalie playing like that back there, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
“Adam made a great saucer pass over to me and I saw Devan (Dubnyk)…I’ve played with Devan before (in Edmonton), I’ve shot on him a lot, he’s a big goalie and he played awesome tonight — but I saw a little spot in the five-hole when he was transferring over and I was able to put it in. It’s fun to score anytime, but certainly at home, in overtime, on a Saturday night where we struggled to score. It’s a good feeling.”
Taylor Hall OT winner for the Devils. This play is filthy. pic.twitter.com/7k2Mx9GdGe
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 23, 2016
“Usually in three-on-three overtime you’re playing against two forwards and one D. I got caught on a rush where I was playing defense and that’s an unfamiliar spot for a guy like me — I think that’s what happened with them.
“I feel comfortable here, it’s a fun team to play on and it’s a great group of guys. I think that we have the ability to surprise a lot of people this year with how we play; not just winning games that we’re not dictating. I think for a lot of this year we’ve controlled games and we’ve deserved the points that we’ve gotten. I think this is going to be a fun year.”
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.