Taylor Hall wasn’t bluffing when he said — repeatedly, I should note — that he’s wanted to be in Boston for a long time.
It’s been an almost perfect fit for both Hall and the Bruins, and it’s left Hall with a smile and energy he’s rarely felt in a career that’s come with stops with Edmonton, New Jersey, Arizona, and Buffalo before Boston.
“It’s been 16 games [and] it’s probably been some of the most enjoyable hockey I’ve ever played in my career,” Hall, who scored two goals in a 3-2 overtime win Monday, said of his B’s run to date. “And I really hope that there’s more to come.
“I know the Bruins’ history and just the aura around the team has been a lot of fun to play for. I love my time here, the city is amazing just walking around and the energy in this area for the team, just in general, has been really fun to be a part of.”
First of all, to say that this is some of the most enjoyable hockey of his career is downright wild when you consider that Hall is a former MVP winner, and had an insane 26-game point streak during that run. I mean, he straight-up dragged that Devils squad kicking and screaming to the postseason, and had the accolades to go with it.
Speaking from a recent scope, however, Hall’s enjoyment as a secondary-but-valuable piece of the operation almost certainly comes back to the complete 180 from Hall’s brief-and-brutal stretch in Buffalo. And he’d be the first to tell you that.
Hall, who did not play in front of fans in Buffalo due to the city’s restrictions on capacity and gatherings, admitted that there was some “dark days” during his Buffalo run. He wasn’t sure exactly what happened, noting that the team had good chemistry and got along within in the locker room, but that it just never clicked on the ice. Hall didn’t write off the Buffalo experience entirely, of course, and said that the failures to produce were indeed his own fault and took responsibility for his on-ice woes.
But they’ve also been smashed to bits in Boston, with eight goals and 14 points in 16 games in town, and Hall looking every bit like the player who won the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP back in 2017-18. And the return of that confidence has come with daily viewings of a 2021 Hart Trophy contender skating on a line above him.
“I mean, confidence is such a special thing in sports, and when you have it, you don’t really even know you have it,” Hall offered. “But when you don’t have confidence, it’s certainly apparent and I can’t really say what the turning point was or anything. But when I watch a guy like [Brad] Marchand play and the things that he does out there, I think that was a really good thing for me to watch him play, to see how hard he is on pucks, to see how many times he gives a second effort to to get a puck back or make a play on D or on offense. And he’s been a guy that I think our whole roster feeds off of.
“But to see how he plays, I know I can play a similar style, and it’s almost like you just kind of you watch someone do it and you’re like, ‘OK, I can do that.’ But that was a little thing. And then playing with Krej and Smitty, I think right off the bat we had a lot of chemistry. It helped that some goals went in to start my my time here. Sometimes that’s all you need.”
Hall isn’t going to settle for a strong first impression though, as he knows that his time (and perhaps his future) in Boston will be judged by his performance in the postseason, and whether or not he can be the piece to help push the Bruins to the top.
“Obviously, the playoffs and winning in the playoffs is something that you can’t really replicate in the regular season,” Hall acknowledged. “And that’s what we’ve been building for. Whatever you’ve done in the regular season, it kind of goes out the window and it’s time to perform and play well and ultimately help your team win in the playoffs.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.