We are fortunate, my fellow New Jersey Devils fans. Taylor Hall had one of the best seasons ever in a Devil uniform in 2017-18. He did not just lead the team in scoring, he put the offense on his back and was a scoring machine throughout the campaign. Production may not be everything, but 93 points in 76 regular season games plus six in five playoff games says a whole lot about how astounding it was to see Hall make things happen over and over for the good of the team. This has not gone unnoticed either as he is a finalist for both the Ted Lindsay and the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHLPA’s most outstanding player and the NHL most valuable player, respectively. What better way to celebrate what Hall did then to look back at what he did? For the next weeks, I will be reviewing every single point given to Hall. We will begin with October.
Amazingly, Hall was slow to start in the goal scoring department. He finished the season with 39 but he ended the first month with only three. Of course, Hall found his way on the scoresheet by racking up assists. Ten, to be precise, with a four-assist game on October 19. This means that Hall finished October with 13 points, a very fine start to what would become a historic season for this franchise.
Hall was held pointless in only three out of the team’s ten games in October: October 11 at Toronto (a 6-3 win), October 14 at Our Hated Rivals (a 3-2 win), and October 20 against San Jose (a 0-3 loss). Let’s look at what he did in the other seven games. First, the goals.
The October Goals of Taylor Hall
October 13 - vs. Washington - 16:28 into 2nd - PP Goal - Assisted by Palmieri, Butcher - NHL.com Video Link
Hall’s first of the season was a power play goal and it was a beautfiul one. Will Butcher drew coverage at the blueline before he moved the puck down low to Kyle Palmieri. As is the plan in their 1-3-1 set up, Palmieri looked for Hall across the slot. He found a seam through the coverage for a great cross-ice pass to Hall. Hall collected the shot and fired one past Holtby’s blocker for a goal. The goal was New Jersey’s first of the game; made it 1-2 at the time.
October 28 - vs. Arizona - 11:09 into 2nd - 5-on-5 Goal - Assisted by Bratt - NHL.com Video Link
It took ten games, but Hall scored his first 5-on-5 goal of the season to put the Devils up 2-1 at the time over Arizona. This is a goal in transition in that it occurred as the play was getting into Arizona’s end of the rink but nothing was really set-up. Jesper Bratt dumped the puck into the corner left of the goalie after a clear in New Jersey’s end. Kevin Connauton looked to pass the puck behind the net - only for Bratt to pick it off. A second later, Bratt saw Hall streaking into the slot; pass, shot, and celebrate.
October 28 - vs. Arizona - 4:30 into 3rd - PP Goal - Assisted by Henrique, Bratt - NHL.com Video Link
At 4:40 into the third period, the Devils began a 5-on-4 power play. Ten seconds later, Hall converted it. Adam Henrique won the draw. Jesper Bratt had the puck, went under pressure, lost the puck, but the clearing attempt off the boards was easily kept in the zone by Butcher. Butcher passed the puck back to Bratt at the left sideboards. Bratt made one backhand pass towards the middle to Henrique to escape the pressure. Henrique took a touch and then made another backhand pass to the goalie’s right side of the ice. Hall was all alone. Thanks to screens by Jimmy Hayes and Niklas Hjarmalsson, Hall ripped one to the top corner above Louis Domingue’s glove. This goal tied up the game 3-3; the Devils went on to win 4-3. More on that game winner in this post.
An Arbitrarily Decided Goal of the Month: Not much in the way of selection, but all three were pretty in their own way. I will give this one to the second Hall goal on October 28 because it was not just a great finish, it was a great finish after two successive backhand passes.
The October Assists of Taylor Hall
Before jumping into the assists, the main thing I’m looking for is legitimacy. Was the assist off an intentional play? Did it direct contribute to the goal? Yes, sometimes assists are handed out easily to plays that are not intentional or directly contributing to goal. No, I do not think all secondary assists are noise and only primary assists are signals. The only way to confirm, in my view, is to watch the assists and come to your own conclusion. Also: this is another reason to enjoy Hall putting in the work. Ten assists in October, let’s do it.
October 7 - vs. Colorado - 19:32 into 2nd - PP Primary Assist - Goal: Bratt - NHL.com Video Link
On opening day, the Devils decisively beat Colorado. With a late power play in the second period, the Devils were set-up. Butcher showed shot but made a pass to Hall. From above the dot and inside the circle to the goalie’s right, Hall saw Jesper Bratt wide open across the slot. Bratt took a touch and ripped one to the corner for his first ever NHL goal in his first ever NHL game. It was a great pass and a great moment for the rookie. It also converted the power play and put the Devils up 3-1.
October 9 - at Buffalo - 7:49 into 2nd - Primary Assist - Goal: Johansson - NHL.com Video Link
After a defensive zone faceoff, the puck gets launched (by Hall?) and Hall chases Nathan Beaulieu to the puck. The Sabre gets to the puck and promptly Hall swipes it. Hall almost lost the puck trying to get it on his forehand, but it bounced off his skate enough to make a backhanded touch. Marcus Johansson, who was following Hall, took that feed and buried it with one-touch of his backhanded blade for his first goal as a Devil and put New Jersey up by three.
October 9 - at Buffalo - 12:19 into 2nd - Primary Assist - Goal: Bratt - NHL.com Video Link
From the sideboards to the goalie’s right, Andy Greene attempted a pass across. It ended up going to Hall, narrowly missing Bratt (I think Bratt missed it). On the far side and above the dot to the goalie’s left, Hall wound up for a slapshot with a defender closing in. The defender went for a block. Seeing Bratt coming down the slot with inside position on his defender, Hall changed course and made a pass to Bratt. The rookie re-directed the pass past Chad Johnson to make it 5-1 New Jersey. The shot-pass created a successful deflection.
October 17 - vs. Tampa Bay - 16:19 into 1st - PP Primary Assist - Goal: Palmieri - NHL.com Video Link
Yes, it took three games before Hall earned another apple. On the power play, Hall collected the puck from the right corner. He went up the boards, looking across for a lane to pass it to a wide-open Kyle Palmieri. Hall smartly used Henrique as a kind of pick. Once Hall carried the puck ahead of where Henrique was, there was a gap between a Lightning player ahead of Henrique and the two defenders behind Henrique. Hall sent a great cross-ice pass to Palmieri above the left circle. Palmieri fired a fantastic slapshot to convert the power play and make it 2-2. The Devils went on to win that game 5-4 through a shootout.
October 19 - at Ottawa - 2:30 into 1st - Secondary Assist - Primary Assist: Stafford, Goal: Hischier - NHL.com Video Link
Hall’s first secondary assist came on Nico Hischier’s first ever NHL goal. Hall received the puck behind the goal line and skated along the boards to the outside hashmark of the left circle. Hall turned around and fired a pass or a shot. Call it a shot-pass? It was legitimate, though, as it made the play possible. Drew Stafford took that puck, went around the left of net, and found the rookie open with a wide open net on the other side of the net. Stafford made a good little pass while falling and Hischier roofed it to open the game’s scoring and to score the first of what would be 20 NHL goals of his rookie season.
October 19 - at Ottawa - 4:21 into 1st - Primary Assist - Goal: Hischier - NHL.com Video Link
This was a primary assist but this was not a real legitimate assist. The Devils won an offensive zone faceoff and John Moore took a shot. The shot missed. It bounced such that Hall seemingly got a piece of it as the puck ended up hitting off the outside of the net and ending up at the corner of the crease by the goal post. Hischier jammed the puck in to make it 2-1 New Jersey. Hall did not really make an intentional pass. He just got this assist by touching the puck before Hischier poked it in past Craig Anderson.
October 19 - at Ottawa - 4:03 into 3rd - Primary Assist - Goal: Palmieri - NHL.com Video Link
This primary assist was more intentional but not quite. After Damon Severson denied Mark Stone (or Stone lost it) in the neutral zone, Hall recovered the puck. He turned (so did Stone) and started carrying the puck in through the middle of the blueline. Stone caught him with a hit and Hall lost control. But the puck went forward and Palmieri picked it up. He went in all alone on Anderson and roofed it to make it 3-4 for New Jersey. Hall took some pain and it appeared he tried to make the pass. Unfortunately, I can’t call it legitimate since Hall didn’t make a pass or intentionally create the opportunity. He took a hit, yes, but the puck just went in a fortunate direction. Had it gone behind Palmieri or in a different direction, then there’s no play. It still looked cool and Palmieri’s shot was 1,000% real.
October 19 - at Ottawa - 1:20 into OT - Primary Assist - Goal: Moore - NHL.com Video Link
Ah, Mooreovertime. That was a fun meme for a few weeks. At the time, this was awesome. The clip at NHL.com still is in May 2018. The Devils were changing and Hall had the puck back in his own end of the rink. Justin-Gabriel Pageau was forechecking. Before Pageau could get in range, Hall made a pass to John Moore. Moore was coming across the middle point in a big turn. With the puck, he ended up streaking down the left side of the ice. With no real passing option and a wide open lane, he took the puck to the left dot and fired one off Anderson and into the net. The pass was an actual, direct pass so this assist was legit. That said, the goal was all Moore (with some assistance from Anderson).
October 27 - vs. Ottawa - 14:10 into 3rd - Primary Assist - Goal: Severson - NHL.com Video Link
The clip begins with Hall controlling the puck. One attempt at a pass from the right point to Moore is blocked. Hall does well to not only recover the puck but keep it in the offensive zone. Hall moves to the area above the left circle and looks across. He fired a saucer pass that eluded Ryan Dzingel and went right to Damon Severson. Severson moved up to the left circle - just outside of the dot - and fired a beautiful wrist shot to put the Devils up 4-2. It was a bold, if not risky, pass from Hall. It paid off.
October 28 - vs. Ottawa - 15:47 into 3rd - PP Primary Assist - Goal: Bratt - NHL.com Video Link
After a zone entry by the Devils, Bratt makes a pass to Henrique to split two penalty killers. Henrique immediately moved the puck to Butcher at the blueline. Butcher drew a PK’er before passing the puck across to Hall. Hall skated to the upper part of the circle to the goalie’s right and drew the attention of two Coyotes. When that happened, Hall made a cross-ice pass past Richardson to the left circle. Bratt hammered that puck perfectly with a one-timer from the left dot. Domingue had no chance. The Devils converted the power play and went up 4-3 in the game (and went on to win 4-3).
In total, that’s eight legitimate assists out of ten. Though I would not blame you if you want to call that October 20 assist to Palmieri a legitimate assist for the price Hall paid on that play.
An Arbitrarily Decided Assist of the Month: Despite the four-assist game in Ottawa, the other games had better assists. The one that impressed me the most was the cross-ice pass on October 17. The Devils’ power play sometimes attempt these cross-ice passes in their 1-3-1 to a fault. When it works, it’s really easy to see why they keep trying. Hall made an excellent read to use Henrique to open up a large enough passing lane to a wide open Palmieri. The pass to Palmieri had the right placement and velocity. It didn’t hurt that Palmieri’s slapshot was picture-perfect.
I was surprised to see that two of Hall’s assists in the four-assist game in Ottawa on October 20 weren’t really passes or intentional plays that led to a goal. Based on what I think a legitimate assist, two were not. But that’s OK. I’m not advocating that points be taken away. I’m just pointing out that Hall benefited there. It is what it is.
Still, Hall’s production was impressive both from a numbers and a visual perspective. I could have told you that the man had nine primary assists out of ten to go with three goals. But re-watching the video of each point showed off some impressive aspects not so easily ascertained from Corsica or Natural Stat Trick or even the stats at NHL.com. All three goals by Hall were in the scoring chance “homeplate.” Nine of Hall’s ten assists led to goals in that same “homeplate” with Severson being a foot or two away from it from being 10 out of 10. Hall kept his legitimate assists direct, but they did include a backhander, a saucer pass, a faked shot, and a shot-pass. It was more than just eight direct, on-ice, bread-and-butter passes to a teammate. Additionally, Hall was involved with a lot of firsts: Bratt’s first goal, Bratt’s first 5-on-5 goal, Marcus Johansson’s first goal as a Devil, Hischier’s first two goals, Damon Severson’s first goal, and Moore’s and the team’s first overtime win of the season. When you’re the main man on offense, that’ll happen but it still struck me as I was re-watching these scoring videos.
It’s too early to see if there are any location tendencies with where Hall is picking up assists or scoring goals. An early leader in the biggest beneficiary from Hall’s point is Bratt. The rookie had three goals, each with Hall primary assists, and the rookie assisted on two of Hall’s goals. Five points together with the one who put up 13 all month long is a good
From a personal perspective, the points were mostly beautiful ones. The only “garbage goal” of the bunch was Hischier jamming in a puck in Ottawa on October 20. This is not meant to disrespect those kinds of goals. I like a good jam play like anyone else. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, quite frankly, all goals are beautiful in their own way. If you think it was lovely, then great. That said, the goals Hall scored and nine out of the ten assists he picked up just had great finishes and great looking shots.
I enjoyed reviewing Hall’s production. It’s a lot of fun to watch these plays again and to learn more about what happened. I plan on continuing the series through the next several Sundays. November’s production will be looked at for next week. What did you think of this? What would you like to see added for coming months? I am tracking things like location, shot/assist type, and other determinations (was it a fluke, was it a scoring chance). I plan on keeping those for a final summary post. Or do you like the format as-is? What impressed you the most about the goals and assists by Hall in October 2017? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Hall’s points in October. Thank you for reading.