Sonny Sachdeva |@sachdevasonny
We’re a long way from that 2018 Hart Trophy.
Eighteen months after Taylor Hall took to the stage to enjoy the pinnacle of his decade-long career in the big leagues, he and his New Jersey Devils find themselves mired in a disastrous campaign.
It’s been a series of unfortunate circumstances for Hall since earning that MVP nod. First came a disappointing 2018-19 where he started strong – 37 points through 31 games and a four-point night in one of his last appearances of the season – before suffering a knee injury that sidelined him for the majority of the season.
Coming into 2019-20, there was a sense the Devils could be flirting with greatness – adding the likes of P.K. Subban through trade and Jack Hughes with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. And, of course, having the quick-footed Hall back into an intriguing lineup after an arthroscopic knee surgery and lengthy rehabilitation process.
But 26 games into the new season, that promise hasn’t materialized.
The Devils sit second-last in the league with just 22 points to their name. A full 10 points separate them from a wild-card berth, and as we looked at last week, teams sitting outside the playoff picture by the end of November historically have the odds stacked against any hopes of clawing their way back in.
It’s possible, as the St. Louis Blues made clear last season, but after a 7-1 shellacking at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night – not exactly a league powerhouse – rocketing up the standings in the new year looks like anything but a certainty for Hall’s Devils.
And the former league MVP’s frustration is palpable.
“I’m running out of things to say as to why we’re playing like that,” Hall said post-game Monday. “It’s hard. It’s a tough pill to swallow and it’s everyone in here.
“It’s too bad. We have the players in here to play a lot better than that. We’ve got to step it up.”
The 28-year-old wasn’t exactly a force himself in the loss, going pointless and finishing as a minus-three while putting four shots on net.
With the loss to the Sabres in tow, New Jersey has dropped three of its past four. Looking further back through their season, it’s been as tumultuous a campaign as you could get. Bouncing between wins and losses after starting the year on a six-game losing streak, the club has yet to string together more than two wins at a time. They’ve given up five goals or more on eight different occasions already this season.
A catastrophic season like this one could have hefty implications for GM Ray Shero and the Devils. Heading into 2019-20, Hall – an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season – made clear his desire to suit up for a winner as his career winds down.
“You want to play on the best team possible,” Hall said at the NHLPA Golf Classic in June. “I’ve played nine seasons in the NHL and only won one …read more
Source:: Daily times