So there’s some uproar that Lindy Ruff unfairly benched an offensive weapon in Taylor Hall against a team that has a stifling defense. The thought was that Canada needed a guy like Hall who such a penchant for generating scoring chances. Hall’s line seemingly saw some decreased ice time in the 2nd. In the 3rd, it was clear that Hall played his last shift of the game with 14:54 remaining in the 3rd period.
So.. was he unfairly benched?
I would like to break down the first half of the game more.. I didn’t start really paying attention until the 2nd, so I’ll probably come back to this. But here’s a quick breakdown of the mid 2nd and early 3rd:
1st: 18:40 remaining – uneventful, up and down shift
1st: 15:40 remaining – soft pass through neutral zone results in a turn over more the fault of Duchene though for a poorly played effort to get to it). This resulted in a couple of weak shots against.
1st: 12:00 remaining – Uneventful shift that ends in Robidas taking a bad 4-min high sticking penalty.
1st: 5:49 remaining – very uneventful, slow paced shift that ends with Eberle going offside as Duchene carries it in.
1st: 2:26 reamining – defensive zone start.. ends quick with a puck over the glass. Next faceoff, Hall carries it up
ice with speed then dumps it in safely. He gets the puck back, and tries to get it to Duchene with a short pass, but it’s chipped away by the Swiss and they carry it back up ice. The Canadians recover the puck, get it back in the Swiss zone where they’ll cycle it up a bit until the Swiss get it back up ice. Fairly uneventful shift, although Canada looked a little better here.
2nd period, Hall loses some ice time early on here for two reasons: 1, bad luck with timing of line changes.. he would have just been out when a penalty was called, and 2, powerplay time, which he seems to have no part in. The team is stacked.. it is what it is. You can’t play all your weapons, but granted, what the Canadians did today didn’t work.
2nd: 9:52 remaining – Hall quickly goes offside to start this shift. On the same shift, Hall and his linemates try to work a cycle. Hall carries it in the offense zone too long. He skates in the O zone in front of the blueline crossing with a Canada player, and when pressed, throws the puck back to that player, who was open when they crossed, but became quickly covered. This leads to a turn over.
2nd: 5:26 remaining – Hall gets the puck from Eberle, as he’s skating back through the zone, he tries to give and go it back to Eberle, who’s still in coverage. Eberle loses it and hauls his cover down, earning a penalty. There is a case for saying it was a bad shift, although it wasn’t too bad (his play did lead to a penalty, but it wasn’t a boneheaded play or anything).
2nd: 1:49 remaining – makes a nice attempt to tip a puck in off a Luke Schenn shot. He makes a hit on Suri to end his shift. Looks much better here.
3rd: 18:20 remaining – gets the puck on the boards from the d in defensive zone and just chips it out to the neutral zone (presumably hoping to hit Duchene with a pass?). Could have been more patient there. Generates one scoring chance with Duchene/Eberle. Swiss get it out and dump it in, line changes. Not a bad shift, not a great shift.
3rd: 14:54 remaining – Hall gets puck on the fly at center ice, skates into Swiss zone. Tries to beat a Swiss D one on one with Dillon driving to the net, but turns it over. Later on, and towards the end of the shift, Canada turns it over in offensive zone and it winds up on Hall’s stick at center ice. He tries to spin and send it back up ice, but he loses it when he’s double teamed by the Swiss. He falls down and swipes at the puck carrier’s stick, but misses. The Swiss get a solid shot on net. This happens right in front of Canada’s bench, ona shift where Ruff already probably has a hate on for him turning it over with an individual effort.
3rd: 12:25 remaining – Hall clearly loses a shift. On that shift, Eberle, Duchene play with Read. Eberle gets a free assist here as he loses the puck behind the net and it bounces to Read, who puts it away from a bad angle.
With about 5 minutes left, you know for sure Hall is benched, still nothing, and Eberle is back out.
A little over 3 mins left, and Eberle and Duchene are back out with Read.
So.. those were probably the circumstances that led to the benching. Was it warranted? Possibly not. Was it crazy, horrible coaching? Probably not. It probably is the outcome of a guy who is still feeling his players out.
So we know Hall isn’t a selfish player, but he loves the puck on his stick, and he wants to beat guys 1 on 1. Most coaches aren’t going to like this. Hall’s individual plays led to two glaring turnovers. My guess is it amplified to Ruff who doesn’t know him well. Also note, the Oilers are in a development stage. Team Canada is not. Krueger is expected to be patient with Hall and the other kids to see what they can do. Ruff and Team Canada need instant results. I think Ruff could be more patient with Hall. I think he can get more out of him… but I don’t think there’s enough to say Hall was unfairly benched (although there were cases for other players to be benched to).
The bottom line is, if a coach doesn’t know a lot about you… one mistake could amplify a pre-determined opinion of you. Two is asking for trouble… three… well… that’s not good. Ruff hasn’t seen a lot of Hall, that’s clear. So it’s also clear that he’s had to learn about him pretty quickly. Hall’s got to show why he deserves the ice time. We’ll see how Hall bounces back from this and if he can earn Ruff’s trust.
I’m going to analyze the first half of the game a bit closer too, later on.
EDIT: Updated the shift information with all Hall’s shifts that I could find. Also, I will note that Giroux made a similar neutral zone turnover as Hall in the 1st:
1st: 6:49 remaining – 1st Swiss goal, Giroux gets a bit too cutesy at center and is stripped of the puck which leads to a 2-on-2 in which the Swiss score.
So Giroux also makes a big mistake, and it lead to no drop in ice time. So I guess that would be some reason to say that Ruff did go with what he knew at times.