So here it is… the first “real” game situation for Taylor Hall in an Oilers uniform, vs. another NHL team. The fans should be pretty jacked up about this one, and those of us at home can all have the luxury of being able to watch this one on TSN.
No word on lines or anything just yet, but I’m hoping to see Hall with Horcoff and Hemsky again tonight, as that line looked pretty good in the Joey Moss Cup, and Hall and Horcoff seem to have a bit of chemistry. I even wouldn’t mind seeing someone else on that right wing, and have Hemsky instead playing with Pääjärvi. I won’t hold my breath on that one. I love it when we play teams in the East though… Hemsky seems to come alive, so I’m looking for a big game from him and whomever is lucky enough to play with him.
EDIT: Lines are up now… here they are…
Edmonton Oilers Lineup
Hall – Gagner – Hemsky
Paajarvi – Cogliano – Penner
Reddox – Fraser – Brule
MacIntyre – Pitlick – Omark
Smid – Foster
Petiot – Gilbert
Belle – Plante
Tampa Bay Lightning Lineup
Harju – Persson – Purcell
Ashton – Wright – Connolly
Tryell – B. Jones – Hall
Malone – Pouliot – Downie
Ohlund – Clark
Vernace – R. Jones
Mihalik – Gudas
Wow, what a game. Let me first qualify this by reminding everyone (including myself) that this was a pretty poor Lightning lineup. They dressed the scraps tonight. So I’m trying to quell my own excitement, but man is Paajarvi good, or what?? I’d call him Hemsky light, but at 19 he seems to be far ahead of the Hemsky development curve (I’m not saying better than Hemsky today, but better than Hemsky at 19).
So my 3 stars for tonight (tip of the hat to Zack) are: Paajarvi, Paajarvi, Paajarvi.
Paajarvi’s first goal was a beauty. Well, up until the finish. They don’t remember how, they just remember how many. He picked up the puck leaving the Oilers zone, cut through a line of defence at the blue line in alone on Elli$, and whiffed on a wrister. But somehow it slid under Elli$.
On his second goal, Penner threaded a pass through a seam from the corner to the top of the other faceoff circle where Paajarvi hammered a one timer past Elli$.
On his third goal, it was probably another one he didn’t have business scoring, but it was a good individual effort to carry it in the zone, open up the defender and fire it through his legs past a screened Elli$ who watched it cruise past him.
On his assist, he made a good seam pass to Foster, at the blueline who wristed a hard pass on net to a fast approaching Cogliano, who tipped it in.
Aside from Paajarvi, Petiot was also a standout player tonight. He ate up nearly 20 minutes. I had no clue about this guy, to be honest. But I thought he played a very solid game that didn’t contain too many mistakes, if any. He even got over 6 mins of PK time with which he had no goals scored on his watch. He also looked very cool and collected on the powerplay, even bailing out Gilbert who got beat pinching in (wasn’t a bad play by Gilbert though). He seems to have a good set of wheels too.. very fluid skater. He probably will stay the year in Oklahoma City, but I think he is a great pickup for the Barons and may even get some call ups in which he can be counted on.
What about Taylor Hall?
He had a pretty good game tonight. Hemsky and him work well together. Hemsky was doing everything in his power to try and set the kid up. Hall scored a goal, much to the fans delight, in the 3rd period, short handed when Elli$ took matters into his own hands trying to clear it. Elli$ attempted to flip the puck out of the zone, but couldn’t get it past Hall as he knocked it down, carried it in and went around Elli$.
He also rang one off the post in the first on a hard wrister from the top of the circle and had another quality chance as well. I’d say he had a good game that drew compliments from the TSN staff.