Henrik Lundqvist is getting his first save-of-the-year-candidate save in early this season

Adam Proteau
Henrik Lundqvist (Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

Goaltending is about technique, but it’s also about knowing where the game is headed – and Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist illustrated that with a stupendous save Sunday night against Edmonton.

Lundqvist’s Blueshirts were trailing the visiting Oilers 2-1 midway through regulation time when Edmonton winger Benoit Pouliot made a beautiful move before passing to teammate Justin Schultz for what looked to be a sure goal. Emphasis on “looked to be”: Read more

Does Taylor Hall need to change his approach to the game?

Ken Campbell
Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

As Taylor Hall sits on the sidelines for the next two-to-four weeks with a knee injury, the fourth significant wound of his young career, the time off might give him some time to reflect on his approach to the game. After all, Hall turns 23 next week and has a lot of productive NHL years ahead of him, assuming of course his aggressive approach to the game doesn’t cut his career short.

And therein lies the quandary for both Hall and his team. The Edmonton Oilers need Hall to be in their lineup every game, not three-quarters of them. He is emerging as the go-to offensive player and a leader on this young team and having him out of the lineup is an enormous blow. In fact, if this injury goes the distance or beyond, it’s not a stretch to suggest any hopes the Oilers have of making the playoffs this season will die.

But on the other hand, Hall’s devil-may-care attitude is part of what makes him such a great player and you don’t want to tame that. How do you tell a guy to stop going to the net so hard when going to the net and using his size is what makes him one of the best left wingers in the league today? (With Alex Ovechkin moving back to the right side, it’s a toss-up between Hall and Jamie Benn at the moment.)

Hall has been besieged by injuries, the latest of which came Saturday night when Chris Tanev of the Vancouver Canucks bowled Hall over on the way to the net before Hall’s right knee collided with the goal post. Some of Hall’s injuries have been because of youthful foolishness – his rookie season ended eight weeks early with a high ankle sprain he sustained in a fight with Derek Dorsett and he received a 30-stitch laceration because he wasn’t wearing his helmet during a warm-up. But it’s hard to blame Hall for the concussion he got when he fell and was accidentally kneed in the head by Cory Sarich or for needing shoulder surgery after being catapulted into the boards by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson.

Perhaps Hall might want to have a conversation with a guy like Wendel Clark. The Toronto Maple Leafs icon established himself as a fan favorite and NHL star by adopting a take-no-prisoners attitude, but it was also that approach to the game that wore his body down badly, caused him to miss enormous amounts of time and put a premature end to what might have been a Hall of Fame career had he stayed healthy and productive. The thing about playing that way is it’s very, very hard and it gets more difficult to endure it with every passing year. Peter Forsberg is another example of a player who found himself in the same conundrum as Hall in terms of finding a balance between playing with passion and disregard for his health and not being available to his team.

The Oilers will say they don’t mind seeing Hall fighting and driving to the net the way he does, but you’d think that privately it has to have them a little nervous. If this franchise is going to ever take a step forward, it’s clear it will have to be with Hall leading the way. And he can’t do that if he’s on the mend. As great a player as Forsberg was, later in his career his teams could not count on him being in the lineup from one game to the next.

Hall is nearly 23 years old and going into this season he had already missed 48 of a possible 294 games, which is about a quarter of his career so far. That might not seem like a lot, but as Hall gets older, those injuries and the residual effects from them are going to start piling up. It will take longer to get healthy and each one will have a more significant toll on his body.

For Hall, this is not about becoming more sheepish on the ice and shying away from contact. To ask him to do that would take away a major component to his game and make him far less effective. It would also amount to throwing out the baby with the bath water. What it is about, though, is playing with a little more regard for his health. Perhaps he doesn’t have to make himself so vulnerable when he carries the puck or goes into the corner, or maybe he takes an extra split second to figure out that he can’t drive to the net without a major collision and he looks for another option.

It’s definitely a fine line, but it’s one Taylor Hall is going to have to learn to toe if he and the Oilers have any hopes of becoming everything they want to be.

Five NHL coaches on the hot seat after one month

Edmonton's upcoming road trip will put Dallas Eakins' job security to the test. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

What does a slow start mean in the NHL? In some cases, it’s a harbinger of more poor play. Other times, it’s bad puck luck, which is correctable. Regardless of the cause, however, poor starts make heads roll every year. The advanced stats tell us GMs are often too hasty to axe their coaches, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The most common victims are bench bosses who ended the season prior on thin ice. They often get the boot as soon as they give their GMs an excuse to do so.

Here are five coaches who have to think about updating their resumes in the near future.

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Taylor Hall injured, Andrew Ference could be suspended; Oilers need an exorcism

Adam Proteau
Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers began the year looking painfully inept, but had recently saved face (and perhaps the employment of coach Dallas Eakins) with a four-game win streak. However, because no good news seems to go unpunished with this franchise of late, that positivity was soon to disappear: the first sign of trouble’s return came when goalie Ben Scrivens made a sub-par clearing attempt that led to the game-winning, shorthanded goal in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Vancouver; and in the same game, they lost star winger Taylor Hall for 2-4 weeks with a sprained knee. Hall is Edmonton’s leading scorer (six goals and 10 points in 11 games) and his absence on a team that’s mediocre on offense (a 16th-best 2.64 goals-for per game average) could devastate any hope the Oilers have of climbing out of the depths of the Western Conference.

It’s easy to say Edmonton will have to tighten up on defense, but that might also be a little more difficult after Saturday: captain and veteran defenseman Andrew Ference is facing a possible suspension for attempting to de-head Canucks agitator Zack Kassian.

If you’re an Oilers fan, aren’t you asking yourself if the fates are conspiring against your favorite players and the larger management team owner Daryl Katz has assembled? Read more

Rumor Roundup: Defensemen at a premium in trade market

Tyler Myers

SI.com columnist Allan Muir observes it was around this time a year ago the first significant trades of 2013-14 took place, most notably the Buffalo Sabres shipping Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders for Matt Moulson and two draft picks. Muir, Sarah Kwak and Brian Cazeneuve speculated about which NHL teams could be the first to swing a significant trade this season.

Cazeneuve notes “a lot of teams” would love to land Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. Though he doesn’t recommend it, he believes moving Myers could fetch a return to address several areas on the Sabres requiring short-term help. Kwak points out injuries to the respective defense corps of the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers could force them into the trade market, though the market is currently thin for blueliners. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Stars may be aligning for Martin Brodeur

MartinBrodeur

It appears the Boston Bruins could look elsewhere for help at right wing. While they reportedly had interest in Buffalo Sabres winger Chris Stewart, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claims it doesn’t appear a deal can be made at this time.

Friedman claims the asking price was either two young players or a young player and a draft pick. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty commended Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli for walking away, noting Chiarelli is pleased with the improved stability his forward lines have shown in recent games. Read more

Nashville’s Ryan Ellis absolutely trucked old buddy Taylor Hall in Edmonton

Ryan Kennedy
Ryan Ellis (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/ Getty Images)

When Edmonton’s Taylor Hall and Nashville’s Ryan Ellis were in junior, they played for some of the most dominant Ontario League teams in recent history, winning back-to-back Memorial Cups with the Windsor Spitfires in 2009 and 2010. And while those squads also featured Adam Henrique, Zack Kassian and Cam Fowler, it was Hall and Ellis that stirred the drink.

The pair reunited in Edmonton last night and despite giving up three inches and almost 25 pounds to Hall, Ellis destroyed his old buddy with an open-ice hit as the Oilers winger tried to break past him on the rush:

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Rumor Roundup: Mike Green could be perfect fit for Colorado

Mike Green

Nearly a month into this season, the Colorado Avalanche stumbled from the gate with a 2-4-4 record. Poor defensive play is a significant factor behind their sputtering start, as they rank among the worst teams in shots-against and goals-against per game.

This poor start is a far cry from last season, when they topped the Central Division with 112 points and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years. With their depth in young talent and 2013-14 Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy behind the bench, the Avs entered this season seemingly poised to build upon that success. Read more