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Hall Focused On ‘Being Best Player I Can Be’ In Breakout Bruins Game

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BOSTON – Taylor Hall understood that he shouldered heavy responsibilities for the Boston Bruins in the opening few months of the regular season.

With Brad Marchand missing from the lineup while recovering from double hip surgery, Hall was the top left winger on the roster and a player capable of providing the same kind of elite top-6 offense that would be missing in Marchand’s absence. Then Hall got hurt in the preseason and played just eight minutes of game action, a development that put him behind everybody else while readying for the start of the regular season.

To nobody’s surprise then, Hall took a few games to find his way before stepping up and leading the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night while scoring both goals for the Black and Gold. It was a giant step in the right direction toward exactly the kind of impactful player the 30-year-old Hall wants to be for the Boston Bruins coming off an invisible game in Boston’s rough loss in Ottawa where they gave up seven even-strength goals.

Hall looked locked in against the Ducks and was one of the two biggest reasons they came away victorious along with goalie Linus Ullmark.

“I hadn’t played well the last couple games, and it was important for me personally to, whether I got on the board or not, find my game and [play] the way that I have to play all season long. Tonight was a decent start forward,” said Hall, who has two goals in five games for the B’s this season. “We needed that. Those points are huge. There’s a big difference between 3-1 and 4-1, especially with the guys that we’re missing as we’re trying to bank points moving forward.

“The preseason wasn’t what I wanted. I got hurt eight minutes into it and I hadn’t played well in those eight minutes, I get injured and then I’m off the ice. I play in the first game and those are always weird for everyone, and they can go either way. I needed some game reps and some puck time and some touches, and to make plays in speed. That’s how you get your brain going. Tonight was a good start for me. I feel like I have a lot to give and I’m not going to be complacent with a one-point night. It’s important to this team that I can be the best player that I can be and drive a line the best I can.”

The regulation goal was a nice example of the way Hall was being hard on the Ducks all night as he battled close to the Anaheim net and then was in the right place to knock down a clearing attempt from Ducks goaltender John Gibson. Hall didn’t waste any time quickly spinning and firing on the net to give the Boston Bruins a 1-0 lead in the second period before Frank Vatrano’s 2-on-1 score evened things up in the game.

That’s the way it stayed until Hall beat Gibson in the shootout with a five-hole attempt, but in between he was strong and fast with an aggressive approach running left wing on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk. He even played the physical role as well knocking Cam Fowler out of the game with a thunderous hit behind the Ducks net that leveled the Anaheim defenseman before he retreated to the Ducks dressing room.

“I thought Taylor Hall was our best skater. Linus [Ullmark] was our best player. But I thought [Hall] was hard on it and he protected pucks. I’ll bet you he had the puck on his stick for 45 seconds tonight,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. “When a gifted offensive player like Taylor Hall has the puck on his stick a lot, he feels better about himself.

“You saw the rest of his game. He made some good defensive plays, and he had that hit [on Fowler]. He was really involved in the game.”

When Hall plays like he did on Thursday night, he’s a game-changer for the Boston Bruins. It’s similar to the show he put on after arriving from Buffalo when he scored eight goals and 14 points in 16 games while teaming up with David Krejci.

Montgomery said before the game he wanted to see more “speed, pace and putting people on their heels” from Hall as he worked his way back up to his level, and everybody could see much more of that in a determined effort in the win over Anaheim.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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JustJim

Keep up the good work, Hall! Thank you, Ullmark, best game yet as a Bruin! You kept the game from a loss.

Clickclack

Totally agree! Not a great performance and if it wasn’t for Ullmark, “L” for the Bruins.

Madalton

He had a great game too in Colorado last season. The Av’s scored the tying goal in the last minute et won in OT.

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