Last week, I began a point-by-point review of every one of Taylor Hall’s points with the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18. In October, Hall got off to a surprisingly slow start with goal scoring. At least, surprisingly slow for someone who finished the regular season with 39 goals.. He had three goals and two came in one game. They were at least very pretty goals. Hall racked up ten assists, including four in Ottawa on October 19. However, not all of those assists were legit; but most of those ten assists (eight to be precise) were appropriate assists.
Today’s post will focus on the points he put up in November. Hall scored two more goals than October and picked up two fewer assists for a total of five goals and eight assists. Let’s re-visit what happened on each of them.
By the way, as suggested by reader Devils_from_Seattle, I’m including which number game it was for Hall. It raises something very interesting in this month’s points. Keep in mind that the October 28 game was Hall’s tenth of the season and the last one before this month.
The November Goals of Taylor Hall
Game #12, November 3 - at Edmonton - 15:00 into 1st - Assisted by Wood - NHL.com Video Link
It is a question whether a rebound is really a legitimate assist. It’s not a pass. It is not always intentional. But it does create a scoring opportunity. In this case, I’d count it. Miles Wood gained the zone, used his speed to beat his defender, and put a low shot on net. Cam Talbot stopped it and Taylor Hall backhanded it in for a score. This put the Devils on the board in Edmonton, making it 1-2 at the time. The trade remains one-for-one (Note: It is tradition to mention the trade anytime Hall and Edmonton are mentioned within a thought.)
Game #13, November 5 - at Calgary - 1:34 into 1st - Assisted by Hischier - NHL.com Video Link
In Edmonton, Calgary is the hated rival and Hall got up for those games. Here, he put one on the Flames early thanks to Nico Hischier. Hischier wins a puck from Mark Giordano in the neutral zone while still able to go forward. The rookie gets ahead of Giordano for an open shot on Mike Smith. Smith makes a right pad stop and Hall buries the rebound. Simple stuff and a legit assist as the shot created a nigh-impossible situation for the goalie. This goal opened up the game’s scoring in Calgary, which ended 4-5 through a shootout.
Game #17, November 12 - at Chicago - 12:15 into 2nd - Assisted by Hischier, Greene - NHL.com Video Link
Ah, November 12 in Chicago. This was the 7-5 win featuring Miles Wood scoring the Devils’ only hat trick of the season. Hall only scored once - three games since his last goal, so a small drought of sorts ended - but it turned out to be a crucial goal that put the Devils up one in the middle period. This was kind of a broken play. Andy Greene chipped at a puck at the sideboards to keep the offense going. Nico Hischier is credited for an assist but it looks like he just banged the puck off the boards such that it popped up and away from the pressure. Neither were passes that created the situation, so the assists weren’t legit. But Hall absolutely was on this play. The puck dropped into a spot where Hall could collect it. He warded off Jan Rutta like he was a nobody as Hall went to the net. Hall got the puck on his backhand, went to his forehand, and then backhanded the puck through Corey Crawford’s legs in one swift motion. It was a very slick goal and it put the Devils 5-4 at the time.
This goal also a milestone. It was Hall’s 400th career regular season point. By the way, it’s very likely we’ll see him get 500 next season in NJ.
Game #22, November 24 - vs. Vancouver - 2:15 into 2nd - Unassisted - NHL.com Video Link
After 5-holing Crawford, Hall went four games without a goal. That ended on November 24 at the Rock against Vancouver. No assist was given on this play and I think that is the right call. This was a sort-of transition play as it started with a dump-in by John Moore and Stefan Noesen firing the puck back. Hischier may have touched it off to have it go behind the net. Hall went down the zone and was open for a pass. Nobody on Vancouver picked him up and they paid for it. Coming around the net, Hischier tried to feed him, but Alex Edler tried to win the puck back from Hischier and knocked it away. Only he knocked it right to Hall. Hischier didn’t actually set this up, even though he was about to. In any case, the giveaway is the only fluke. The puck was wobbling, but Hall fired a laser to the far post (past/over the goalie’s left shoulder) to make it 1-0. That shot was anything but a fluke.
Game #23, November 25 - at Detroit - 13:21 into 1st - Assisted by Butcher - NHL.com Video Link
The only power play goal of the month came on this night and on the linked play. Will Butcher gained the zone and made a pass to his left to Hall. Hall briefly loses the puck going past a defending Red Wing, retrieves the loose puck, carries it to the slot, and ripped a low one past Petr Mrazek. Jensen and Henrique were battling the slot and Jensen happened to be right in the goalie’s line of sight. Hall recognized it and fired a low wrister before Mrazek could react to what was coming. This put the Devils up by one, 2-1, in what would end with a 4-3 OT win.
An Arbitrarily Decided Goal of the Month: I’m going to give it to the last one, Hall’s eight of the season in Detroit. While assisted with a legitimate pass, Hall took the puck and just powered his way to go by a defender and recognize an opportunity to beat the goalie with that read on Jensen. The shot was excellent; a lovely finish after a quick little sequence.
The November Assists of Taylor Hall
Before jumping into assists, a reminder that when I’m looking for a legitimate assist, I’m looking for something that directly created a goal. Usually, this is a pass but I can accept shots that were re-directed or tipped by someone else or most rebounds. This first assist is not one of those rebound plays.
Game #11, November 1 - at Vancouver - 10:09 into 2nd - Primary Assist - Goal: Hayes - NHL.com Video Link
Most remember this game as one where Cory Schneider was seemingly unbeatable. This was also the apex of Jimmy Hayes’ time with the Devils in 2017-18. Hall gets the primary assist on this one, but I don’t think it’s legitimate. Hall did indeed come down the left side of the ice and fired a good, low shot on Jakob Markstrom from the inside of the (goalie’s) right circle. Markstrom makes a right pad stop and the rebound goes to and off the left sideboards. Hayes gets to it along the boards and has a go at firing the puck on net. He ends up beating the goalie. Mostly, rebounds are challenges for goalies because they have to react almost instantly to a second shot coming at them from close distance and possibly from another angle. In this case, Markstrom had more than enough time to re-set himself and be prepared for a shot. So while Hall created the rebound, this was not your traditional rebound play. As such, I can’t call it a legit assist. Hayes’ wonder-shot made it 1-0 in what would end up a 2-0 game. Thanks to another assist from Hall.
Game #11, November 1 - at Vancouver - 19:44 into 3rd - Primary Assist - Goal: Stafford - NHL.com Video Link
Drew Stafford sealed this win with an empty net goal. Here, Hall contributed with a pass. He actually contributed earlier as he took a loose puck in his own zone and skated the puck out in a 5-on-6 situation. From the right side of the neutral zone, he made a clean pass to Stafford, who was heading up ice down the middle of the neutral zone. Stafford gained the zone and fired in an empty netter. Legit assist by Hall on what would be a rare ENG for the 2017-18 Devils.
Game #17, November 12 - at Chicago - 3:40 into 1st - Secondary Assist - Primary Assist: Stafford, Goal: Wood - NHL.com Video Link
It would be five games before Hall would register his next assist. It would come in what became a high-scoring affair in Chicago. Hall collected a puck in the right corner and fed a pass to Miles Wood, who was at the crease. There was a passing lane and Wood collected it easily. Instead of firing the puck or trying to jam it, Wood one-touched the puck to Stafford, who was behind the goal line. Stafford gave the puck back to Wood at the crease, who proceeded to fire it in low on Crawford for a PPG. While Hall did not make the second pass prior to this goal,he was involved on the play. The NHL (and I suppose other leagues) don’t erase that potential assist on a give-and-go. I can respect it here because Hall made a direct, intentional pass to Wood that led to the quick back-and-forth. The goal converted a power play, the game was tied up at the time, and it would be the first of three goals by Wood in this game.
Also, in November 2017, Hall was on a power play unit with Stafford and Wood. Note that.
Game #19, November 18- at Winnipeg - 7:14 into 3rd - Secondary Assist - Primary Assist: Hischier, Goal: Butcher - NHL.com Video Link
This could have been a primary assist for Hall if it was not for friction and Will Butcher. The Devils were attacking while down by four goals. Hall fired a pass of sorts - maybe it was a shot? It didn’t seem to be intended for the net - to the crease. Hischier re-directed the puck past Connor Hellebuyck. The goalie was beat but the puck slowly trickled towards the goal line. The puck was on edge and with the game being the third period in the game and the crease, the ice may have had additional shavings or marks that would help slow a puck down. Rather than hope it would slide in, Butcher swooped in and poked the puck in the net. That would be Butcher’s first NHL goal. Because Butcher got that touch, Hischier gets a primary assist even though he didn’t intend to, and Hall gets a secondary assist that was legitimate because he did intend to create a play and succeeded. This put the Devils down three goals, where they ultimately lost 2-5.
Game #20, November 20 - at Minnesota - 0:52 into Overtime - Secondary Assist - Primary Assist: Henrique, Goal: Moore - NHL.com Video Link
Moore-vertime was a thing for a bit as John Moore scored an overtime goal in October and in November. This all started with Hall carrying the puck out of the Minnesota zone as the Devils were changing. Hall did make an intentional pass to Moore, who was back at the blueline. He was under pressure and needed to move the puck to someone who was at least facing the right direction. Moore passed it up to Henrique. Henrique went down towards the right corner as Moore streaked down towards the post to the goalie’s left. Henrique made an awesome cross-ice pass to Moore, who one-timed it past Devan Dubnyk for a beautiful game-winner in OT. Was Hall’s assist legitimate? I’m edging on “no” because while he got Moore the puck, it wasn’t necessarily to create a goal. It was not on offense. It led to one, but that was all due to Henrique and Moore. I may change my mind and you can help me change my mind, but I have it as a “no” for now. The goal was still wonderful to watch.
Game #22, November 24 - at Vancouver - 10:17 into 2nd - PP Secondary Assist - Primary Assist: Butcher, Goal: Boyle - NHL.com Video Link
Hall’s pass is legitimate and functional. He made a drop pass to Will Butcher in the neutral zone. A diagonal one. Butcher took that puck and went off. He darted through the Vancouver penalty killers, made Ben Hutton look silly as Butcher went past him, and got ahead going towards the circle left of the goalie. At the bottom of the circle, Butcher made a great backhand pass to the slot right to Brian Boyle. Boyle, who followed Butcher’s zone entry by going towards the net, one-timed it for a power play goal. This happened on the Devils’ Hockey Fights Cancer Night. It was special for Boyle, who is currently fighting leukemia, to score that goal and the Rock erupted in joy. It was a beautiful movement and pass by Butcher to create a great finish for Boyle (that also put the Devils up one). Hall’s secondary assist was just that.
Game #22, November 24 - at Vancouver - 15:45 into 2nd - Primary Assist - Secondary Assist: Hischier, Goal: Severson - NHL.com Video Link
Hall enjoyed putting up points against Vancouver this month: one goal and four assists in two games. This assist is a primary assist that almost became a goal. Hischier sprung Hall with a pass across the neutral zone. Hall collected the pass, he was already ahead of Chris Tanev, and he was one-on-one with Markstrom. Hall beat Markstrom with a low shot to the goalie’s right. The post saved him. Damon Severson, who charged up ice after Hall collected the pass, was able to get to the loose puck and put it home for a goal. As with rebounds, I have to call it legitimate. Hall created the goal even though he was denied by iron. I have to call it a fluke because it is nowhere close to repeatable. The puck hit off the post such that Severson, who really hustled to get to the puck, was able to get to it first. It could have bounced towards the goalie, away from the net, or closer to where a Canuck would be going. Count the assist as real because it did make the goal possible; but it was still a fluke of a play. It put the Devils up two in the game all of the same.
Game #23, November 25 - at Detroit - 15:45 into 2nd - Primary Assist - Secondary Assist: Henrique, Goal: Hischier - NHL.com Video Link
This pass by Hall was anything but a fluke. This all starts with Adam Henrique stealing a puck at Detroit’s blueline. It was an excellent forecheck; he came from behind the Red Wing and won the puck without fouling him. He passed the puck down the (goalie’s) right side to Hall. Hall was on the outside of the right circle, facing towards the net, and with a defender in his face. He delays a bit, hoping for some help, and he recognizes Hischier coming down the middle of the zone. Hall attempts a saucer pass to get the puck over the defender’s stick and hopefully drop on the ice such that Hischier to pick up. It worked perfectly. While not flat, Hischier took the puck in stride on his backhand and quickly beat Jimmy Howard on his forehand. This was a great pass by Hall and a great finish by the rookie.
An Arbitrarily Decided Assist of the Month: How can I not go with that saucer pass on November 25? It was visually appealing. It was well-weighted for Hischier to take it on the first touch and score on the second touch. It was clearly very effective. In a month where not all of the assists were memorable, this one absolutely was.
What you did not see in this post stood out. Hall had some goal and assist droughts in the month. There were five games between his two-assist night on November 1 and picking up a secondary in that 7-5 win in Chicago. There were three goalless games before scoring on November 12 in Chicago and four goal-less games after that night. Hall was held pointless in six games in November and three in a row: November 7 vs. St. Louis, November 9 vs. Edmonton, and November 11 vs. Florida. However, players who score 93 in 76 games cannot afford to be pointless for too many games in a row. As it turned out, those three pointless games in a row was the longest streak that Hall went without registering a single point in a game all season long. Amid that run of one goal in eight games, Hall picked up assists here and there. Amid that five-game period of no assists, Hall had two goals. That his longest pointless streak happened was just three games and in November is truly remarkable.
In the goal scoring department, all five goals were off scoring chances. Hall had some lucky bounces in terms of how they were created. The puck popping up and dropping where it did in Chicago on November 12 counts as one. Ditto the November 24 goal where a Vancouver defender knocked the puck to him in an attempt to deny Hischier setting up Hall. But the shots themselves were all killer with no filler.
As for assists, I counted two as not being legit assists. While his shot created a rebound, the rebound was long, it hit off the boards without going astray, and allowed time for Markstrom to recover before Hayes fired off what is likely one of the best shots of his career on November 1 in Vancouver. Fortunate, yes. Legitimate, not so much. The other one was the pass to Moore in overtime against Minnesota on November 20. While it was a pass, the real work of the goal was by Henrique and Moore; Hall’s pass was only to keep the puck in Devils possession and it was not even in an offensive moment. That is more borderline, but for now I’m keeping it as such. I counted his second assist against Vancouver on November 24 as a fluke but legitimate in that it created the goal and the rebound off the post provided little chance for the goalie to recover as you would expect from a rebound play. It’s a fluke based on the fact it is a rebound off a post. Still, the majority of Hall’s eight assists were legit and without fluke, culminating with a superb one in Detroit on November 25.
What’s amazing is that December was not that productive for Hall, he apparently torn ligaments in his left hand late in the month, and then went on to have one of the greatest runs of production in 2018 in the entire NHL.
I continue to enjoy reviewing Hall’s production and I hope you are as well. What did you think of Hall’s goals and assists in November? What impressed you the most about the goals and assists by Hall in November 2017? Would you call rebounds legitimate assists? What about that one off the post; is that a fluke or should it be classified otherwise? What would you like to see added for coming months? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Hall’s points in November. Thank you for reading.