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2022 Player Ratings: Taylor Hall finds a role in Boston

Strong play with Pasta covered up some suspect defense

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins - Game Three Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Taylor Hall in 2022

Key stats: 81 GP, 20G, 41A, 61PTS

Additional stats: 13 even strength goals, 15 PP points, 54.8 CF% (5v5), 29.23 xGF

Reader rating: 7.2

Writer rating: 7

Since Taylor Hall arrived in Boston at the 2021 trade deadline, he’s been as advertised: a skilled playmaker who can put the puck in the net when needed.

The tale of the 2021-22 season wasn’t so much about the comparison with his 27 games in the regular and postseason at the end of 2021; it was about the difference between his play in 2021-22 with David Pastrnak versus without.

If “the best ability is availability,” Hall had one of his most available seasons. He sat out only the final game of the season, which didn’t mean anything, to rest for the playoffs. That’s no small feat for a player who has missed more than 20 games in a season on three occasions.

Overall, Hall had one of the better offensive seasons of his career. He had his most productive season since his Hart Trophy-winning season with the New Jersey Devils in 2017-18, notching 61 points (20 goals, 41 assists).

Hall Loves Pasta

It’s hard to analyze Hall’s season without getting into Pastrnak’s, so this may be a bit repetitive, but it’s true.

When Cassidy took Pastrnak off the Boston Bruins’ first line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and played him on the second line with Hall, it sent the former first-overall pick into overdrive.

It makes sense. Being a world-class playmaker, Hall benefitted from having a world-class scorer to convert his playmaking or “play-driving” potential into actual goals.

His point production rose from a pace of .56 points per game to .85 points per game.

Before Pastrnak joined his line, Hall was on pace for a 46-point season through 82 games. He ended with 61. Had Hall scored at the same rate as he had with Pastrnak on his line throughout the season, he would’ve had 70 points.

Unrealized Power Play Potential

Though Hall is an accomplished playmaker at even strength, he’s always been disappointing when its come to his power play production.

Hall has only ever exceeded 20 power play points twice in his career, in 2017-18 with the New Jersey Devils and 2011-12 with the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s easy to understand his mediocre power play numbers (considering the caliber of player he is) when you remember how bad all of his Oiler teams were, but his numbers on the Bruins haven’t increased.

You would think the opportunity to play with a more potent power play, especially when Marchand was out with his suspensions and Pastrnak was injured, would allow him to be more successful on the power play.

It hasn’t. That lack of success really hurt the Bruins during those injuries and suspensions.

Playoff Ups and Downs

Hall’s effectiveness during the playoffs was mixed. During the Bruins’ first loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hall looked like the only player invested in the game. He scored the Bruins’ lone goal in their Game 1 loss to the Hurricanes. He had the second-best Corsi-for percentage at 5-on-5 at 63.64, just behind linemate Eric Haula’s at 66.67, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Though he didn’t score, Hall and his line also played a tremendous game in the Bruins’ series-extending Game 6 victory, dominating in the offense zone.

However, Hall struggled defensively against a Hurricanes offensive corps that might not have quite matched up to the Bruins’ top-end talent but had the depth and help on the blueline to make the Bruins’ life in the defensive zone difficult.

In spite of notching four points in the playoffs, Hall finished a whopping minus seven in the series. He was the Bruins worst player in plus/minus along with Jake DeBrusk.

Many people think that stat is misleading, but when you watch Hall’s play in the defensive zone during the series, you start to understand.

Game 2 was by far his worst. Hall was on the ice for the Hurricanes’ first two goals (both at even strength) and was a negative factor in both. The first resulted from a turnover inside the Bruins blueline that might have been negated had Hall engaged Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast rather than flying the zone looking for an odd man rush. Instead, Fast kicked the puck back into the zone to Jordan Staal who eventually got the puck back to Fast who scored.

A few minutes later, Hall weakly swiped at Jaccob Slavin and lost his stick behind his own net. While Hall chased his stick, Slavin passed the puck to Tony DeAngelo whose shot deflected off Sebastian Aho and past Linus Ullmark.

Hall was mostly beneficial to the Bruins in 2021-22, helping the Bruins field two solid forward lines, especially when combined with Pastrnak.

Unfortunately, his biggest struggles in the defensive zone and on the power play came in the worst possible moments.

It will be interesting to see if Hall can raise his game to help fill the gap that the Bruins will have on offense to start the season with Brad Marchand recovering from injury.