Don’t look now but Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall is coming to life offensively at the heart of a goal-scoring surge up and down the lineup for the Black and Gold.
It’s all coincided with Hall partnering up with David Pastrnak on the second line as speedy, skilled bookend wingers capable of creating while centered by the equally speedy Erik Haula, who is playing the responsible 200-foot game required by his two wings. It’s translated into two goals and eight points along with a plus-3 for Hall in his best stretch of the season while Pastrnak has blown up with five goals in six games during the month of January as well.
Overall, the trio has chipped in for nine goals and 19 points during six games since being formed and are giving the B’s coaching staff little reason to even flirt with the notion of more changes.
Even Haula chipped in with a goal in Monday night’s 7-3 thrashing of the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena, and it has Hall and Pastrnak playing their best hockey of the season.
Great use of speed and drawing the defender by Taylor Hall here for Erik Haula to snipe one.
6-2 BOS. pic.twitter.com/PvDDHLW2fA
— Blake Thorne (@_BlakeThorne) January 11, 2022
It’s no coincidence that’s happened right alongside the Bruins winning five out of six games, pounding out 28 goals and coming up with plays like this where the combined speed and skill is stunning opponents.
Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak getting the chemistry going. Bruins looking a lot more dangerous these days, crushing the Capitals tonight pic.twitter.com/eukAZ4Ns3g
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) January 11, 2022
It’s interesting that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy even noted that Hall and Pastrnak were finding ways to take rushes together in past team practices even before they were slotted together on the same line, a harbinger of the chemistry we’re seeing begin to emerge.
“I think those are guys that get along well and they do practice drills together even when they weren’t on the same lines. I think [Hall] just enjoys Pasta’s style of play and he can read off him well,” said Cassidy. “There are still some rush situations they’ve got to sort out. The [speed] part should match up pretty well for them eventually, but I think it’s just a guy getting excited to play with an elite level player and it’s as simple as that. At the end of the day, we want Taylor to play hard and well no matter who is on his right wing, but I think it’s just human nature when you’ve got a guy like [Pastrnak] you’re going to find another gear and [Hall] has it.
“[Hall] is a pretty explosive player. He finds the ice and can finish plays and can pass as well as he shoots. [Hall and Pastrnak] is a good combination right now.”
Certainly, Hall looks as energized and engaged as he did when first paired up with David Krejci last season, a big key to spurring on the offense created by his elite set of skills. Hall says he “plays quick” with Pastrnak and they have success “opening up the ice” with quick passes and super-high pace through the neutral zone. That combined with the COVID/Holiday break allowed Hall to put a little less pressure on himself right along with fresh, new line grouping.
Hall compared it to playing with Kyle Palmieri as a shooter during his Hart Trophy days with the New Jersey Devils, but obviously Pastrnak is a step up offensively as a guy that’s approached 50 goals in a season before.
“We’re trying to find open guys and at the end of the day the puck has to get to the net,” said Hall, who is now on pace for 18 goals and 56 points this season after a slow start. “Pasta and I may have a tendency at times to overpass or turn down shots, but tonight we were getting it to the net at the right time and it’s fun playing that way.
“I love playing with Pasta. Last year getting to this team and getting a chance to play with him a little bit in practices, he’s such a great player and has a real good hockey sense, real good way of getting open and staying open. Obviously, Pasta is a Rocket Richard winner and a guy that’s put up a lot of points in this league so it’s been a lot of fun.”
The trick now, obviously, is to keep Hall at this level of play and production as the Boston Bruins continue to learn what makes him tick. The left winger is obviously much less of an offensive focal point or cycle kind of player in the offensive zone, and much more of a dangerous winger when using his tremendous, powerful skating speed to back off the defense.
The Bruins have unlocked Hall’s game while pairing him with a surging Pastrnak, and now it’s about keeping both scoring wingers that way through a long second half of the season.