How Taylor Hall will benefit from not being focal point of Bruins' offense

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Nick Goss
·4 min read
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How Hall will benefit from not being focal point of Bruins' offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The biggest move the Boston Bruins made before Monday's NHL trade deadline was acquiring Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres in a deal that also sent fourth-line center Curtis Lazar to the B's.

Hall is a former Hart Trophy winner and the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick. He's not producing at an elite level -- two goals and 19 points in 37 games for the Sabres this season -- but he's still a quality winger who will bring much-needed scoring depth, puck-carrying skill, speed and energy to the lineup.

The veteran left winger is going to start playing alongside Bruins center David Krejci on the second line. It's a natural fit for Hall, given Krejci's excellent playmaking ability. 

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It's also a new scenario for Hall because he won't be playing every shift against the opponent's top defensive players. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney touched on this subject during Monday's availability with reporters.

"And let's be honest -- he's going to be playing behind Brad Marchand. He's rarely had that in opportunities at other places to play behind a guy like Brad, who sees all the tough matchups every given night," Sweeney explained. "Hopefully, Taylor can use his speed and gain some separation and push defensemen back, he can certainly prove he's gotten around defensemen to get pucks to the net.

"And obviously having the chance to play with either Charlie to play off of that or possibly (Krejci) who can get him the puck in those areas while he's in motion. He's gotten scoring chances, he just hasn't finished at the same level as he's had in previous years. And you never know — I mean, you pointed out, that's obviously what we're hoping for. He's motivated to do that. We're going to give him an opportunity and see if he can ride with it."

Taylor Hall: 'I'd love to be a Bruin for a few years'

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Hall was usually the best forward on his Oilers, Devils and Coyotes teams over the last 10 years. He consistently faced tough defensive matchups against the opposing team's top shutdown forward line and No. 1 defense pairing. 

He isn't going to be facing that same level of competition on a consistent basis in Boston. The Bruins' first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak most often gets those difficult matchups, and rightly so, considering it's arguably the most dangerous trio in the league.

Hall will get more favorable matchups, and this should help him establish chemistry with his new teammates and boost his confidence before the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He’s been a highly successful player at the highest of levels. If he has a little bit of success, I think he could get a snowball affect associated with that," Sweeney said. "The pressure is not on only Taylor. I know our leadership group will let him know that. He just needs to come in and fit in and does what he does well and complement the group. He’s excited to try and do that.

"Again, I think the fact that he’s playing behind Brad, in that sense. He’s playing with really good centers. And a motivated team that plays with structure and wants to win. Those are all the recipes. He won a Memorial Cup. It hasn’t happened for him at the NHL level to be in that situation and he dearly wants that opportunity and that’s why he chose to come with us.

"We’re just going to try to put him in roles and situations he can take advantage of his skillset and complement our group.

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Hall's previous teams reached the postseason in just two of his first 10 years as a pro, so the opportunity to make a deep run for the first time has to be pretty exciting for him. And, as Sweeney noted, Hall has all the motivation he could possibly need to succeed with the Bruins.

Boston, at least on paper, is an excellent fit for Hall as he tries to rebuild himself at a critical point in his career.

“I’ve been the focal point on a lot of teams,” Hall said in a Zoom call Monday. “I never made myself the focal point, that’s just the situations I was in. The first chance I got in free agency, I went to Buffalo, a team that had Jack Eichel, a player that I think is better than myself. I just wanted to be one of the guys. I wanted to be on a successful team.

"Ultimately it didn’t work out in Buffalo, but going to Boston, there’s so many great players on that team — Hall of Famers — guys that have had just amazing careers, careers that if I had anything like that at the end of my career I’d be super happy with.”