Now that it’s official that Edmonton Oilers star forward Taylor Hall will miss the next month with an ACL injury to his left knee, the opportunity for other players to step up has presented itself. The Oilers are widely considered to be Hall’s team given his leadership skills on the ice in more of a ‘lead by example’ type.
But now that Hall won’t be playing his reckless style anytime soon, is this now Jordan Eberle‘s moment to grab the reins and temporarily declare that the Oilers are his team? At least until his roommate returns?
Eberle is tied with the surprising Mark Arcobello for the team lead with 10 points in 10 games, 3 of them goals. Love it or hate it, he is a team best plus-7 on the year and when he’s playing his flashy game accompanied with his dazzling stick handling, he makes things happen in the offensive zone.
Lats night in Montreal, Eberle helped set up two goals and while he was the second assist on both, it was his inital pass that set up the snipe. The first of his helpers came on the Oilers second and game-tying goal. His second helped set up the beautiful game-winning goal by Jeff Petry that was largely orchestrated by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Regardless, Eberle has that knack of knowing what to do with the puck at the right moment and more often than not it leads to a scoring chance.
Aside from one shift where Eberle was pinned up in his own end along with the other four Oilers on the ice, number 14 had a solid defensive game in Montreal; an area that everyone on the Oilers can improve on.
There has been talk of players like Nail Yakupov needing to step up his game and start scoring while Hall is sidelined to help this team continue to win. A great read today from Gene Principe focuses on Ales Hemsky, who was his usual flashy self last night and not to mention his two huge blocked shots (somewhat un-Hemsky like) that helped secure the win. No doubt Hemsky will be required to continue to produce in the offensive zone if the Oilers look to bridge the gap until Hall can return but his time has passed to be this team’s leader.
More important than both Yakupov and Hemsky is the play of Jordan Eberle. He not only creates scoring chances, seemingly out of nowehere, but he makes his linemates better, much like Hemsky does.
It’s already been documented that Eberle wants the responsibility to help Yakupov break out of his goalless drought, stating he wants to be the “catalyst” to help the Russian sniper rekindle his game. And it’s not ‘if’ that happens, it’s just a matter of when. At that time, the Oilers will become that much more lethal with the puck which could lead to more victories.
So while Hall is considered to be the straw that stirs the drink in Edmonton and Hemsky is a key piece to this club’s success, it’s Eberle who could be deemed the so-called leader of the Oilers, even if it is on an interim basis.
It’s worth noting that of the three games in which Eberle has had multi-point games this season, the Oilers are 2-0-1. Not to mention that of the three wins Edmonton has secured so far this season, Eberle has at least one point in each of them. Subsequently, the Oilers have lost all three games when he was held pointless. Hemsky on the other hand only has one multi-point game so far this year.
As Eberle goes, so too go the Oilers? That could be the case and we’re about to find out over the course of the next month or so.