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Breaking up the top line: Hall at Center

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01-23-2013, 10:07 AM
  #1
Giggli G
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Breaking up the top line: Hall at Center

Last night (edit: when combined with viewings from last year), it became apparent to me that the top line is not an optimal arrangement, and that Hall should probably be tried at center, as was suggested by the coaching staff in the offseason.

All three players on that line want to be the go-to player, and only really RNH plays a style that can be seen as complimentary. Most of all, Hall sticks out like a sore thumb and I can't see chemistry developing due to the difference in play styles. He looked a lot better last night when placed on Smyth and Horcoff's line where he could be the go-to guy to rush and control the pace.

Hall is a natural center. He covers a ton of ground already. He likes to wind up off the breakout. He also has (or at least will have) size and strength, which we could use up the middle. In the defensive zone, when on wing, he's of almost no use; meanwhile, Gagner gets the tough assignments he can't handle down low. Hall has much more ability to win puck battles, and he skates like a friggin demon.

I see Hall at center as a cross between Eric and Jordan Staal (in the future).

I know people say that his skillset is suited for the wing, but I disagree. His skill set is completely reflective of a centerman. He has worked on his passing as well and it is at least above average.

I could see lines like:

Yakupov-RNH-Eberle
Jones-Hall-Gagner
Smyth-Horcoff-Hemsky
Hartikainen-Belanger-Petrell

However, many other iterations could work so don't focus on these lines. A second line with hall on it would be much more difficult to shut down than one centered by Gagner.

Don't take this a panic suggestion from me. I think the game last night will be very good for this club going forward. It's nice to get a reality check this early in the season. Same thing happened to Vancouver against Anaheim, and they bounced back with a much better defensive effort against us.

Of course, if we do trade Gagner for Luongo, this might be more likely to become a reality.


Last edited by Giggli G: 01-23-2013 at 10:34 AM.
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01-23-2013, 10:10 AM
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OilerTyler
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Can we please let the idea of playing Hall at centre die?

It shouldn't happen and isn't going to happen. Hall said himself that he is better suited for the wing.

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01-23-2013, 10:11 AM
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I asked the mods last week as Hall had a quote saying he is a winger and that's where he fits the best. It really needs to be a sticky.

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01-23-2013, 10:12 AM
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Johnny Bravo
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Hall at center never has, and never will work. His game is tailored for the wing.

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01-23-2013, 10:17 AM
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Giggli G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Bravo View Post
Hall at center never has, and never will work. His game is tailored for the wing.
Never has? The last time he played center was when he was ripping up the OHL.

Everyone states 'his game is tailored for the wing' like it is dogma. I disagree completely with that sentiment, even if Hall says as much.

He can do so much more for this team in the defensive zone at center, and can use his skating ability much more effectively. Everyone focuses only on offense. Clearly that is not the issue with this team.


Last edited by Giggli G: 01-23-2013 at 10:24 AM.
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01-23-2013, 10:21 AM
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I think it'd be worth a try to split them for sure, but Hall should not be moved to C. Just not a good fit IMO.

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01-23-2013, 10:25 AM
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joestevens29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giggli G View Post
Never has? The last time he played center was when he was ripping up the OHL.

Everyone states 'his game is tailored for the wing' like it is dogma. I disagree completely with that sentiment, even if Hall says as much.

He can do so much more for this team in the defensive zone at center, and can use his skating ability much more effectively. Everyone focuses only on offense. Clearly that is not the issue with this team.
You really want to see Hall trying to split the d all night? The guy has enough issues with one d-man trying to take his head off on the wing.

What can he do in the defensive zone at center? He does nothing as a winger, so what makes you think he'd know what to do as the center?

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01-23-2013, 10:28 AM
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So 1 bad game (game 2 no less), against an experienced team that is going on all cylinders, and it's time to break up the #1 line?

OK, if you say so.

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01-23-2013, 10:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giggli G View Post
Last night, it became apparent to me that the top line is not an optimal arrangement,
Incorrect, nothing last night showed that.

And even if it was true, "Hall at center" is far from a good solution when we lack LWers and already have two top-two centers.

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01-23-2013, 10:32 AM
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I agree the lines should be shuffled a bit however Hall should not be moved to center

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01-23-2013, 10:33 AM
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Giggli G
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Originally Posted by Dorian2 View Post
So 1 bad game (game 2 no less), against an experienced team that is going on all cylinders, and it's time to break up the #1 line?

OK, if you say so.
This line existed last year as well and didn't work very well then. This is not a panic response on my part, last night doesn't particularly concern me. The ongoing lack of chemistry when all three of those guys are together does.

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01-23-2013, 10:35 AM
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We lost last night because of bad defensive lapses and suspect goaltending. Until we can't score, I don't think massive line juggling is required.

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01-23-2013, 10:38 AM
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Didn't Hartikainen sometimes played on the 1st line in OKC? The Oilers need some size on the Top 2 lines, some bangers. Switch him with Hemsky.

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01-23-2013, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Bravo View Post
Hall at center never has, and never will work. His game is tailored for the wing.
I see what you did there

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01-23-2013, 10:48 AM
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I think we need Eager in the lineup to be the crash and bang guy who can also skate. While he may not have the best hands, he does wear down the opposition, and that I think is what we are lacking. Nobody on the team really forechecked anywhere close to the intensity Eager did against Vancouver.

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01-23-2013, 10:49 AM
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Giggli G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joestevens29 View Post
You really want to see Hall trying to split the d all night? The guy has enough issues with one d-man trying to take his head off on the wing.

What can he do in the defensive zone at center? He does nothing as a winger, so what makes you think he'd know what to do as the center?
He can get back from deep in the o-zone faster than almost any other player, and can rush the puck out of the zone by himself. He accelerates quickly and can take a breakout pass with great speed. He's better along the boards than gagner, he's bigger and stronger, and can do a better job helping the defense move players off the puck in cycling / corner battles. In my opinion would be very very good defensively once he was readjusted. He has all the tools to be a two way offensive center. His natural and developed skills are wasted at the wing, where he just sits on the boards in the defensive zone or covers a defenseman in the high slot. He's ready to take on more responsibility and put his skating to use. Right now at EV he just goes up and down the wing like a Magnus Paajarvi who can score.

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01-23-2013, 10:51 AM
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Hall at center makes no sense to me. He's your prototypical winger. Nothing about his game makes me believe he should be moved to center at all, especially considering his defensive game.

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01-23-2013, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitchslap View Post
Hall at center makes no sense to me. He's your prototypical winger. Nothing about his game makes me believe he should be moved to center at all, especially considering his defensive game.
It's tough to directly compare how he plays defensively as winger to how he would play as a center. Centers play near the puck so much more in the defensive zone. He has exactly the drive and skill set needed to be put to use in this position, as mentioned above.

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01-23-2013, 10:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giggli G View Post
He can get back from deep in the o-zone faster than almost any other player, and can rush the puck out of the zone by himself. He accelerates quickly and can take a breakout pass with great speed. He's better along the boards than gagner, he's bigger and stronger, and can do a better job helping the defense move players off the puck in cycling / corner battles. In my opinion would be very very good defensively once he was readjusted. He has all the tools to be a two way offensive center. His natural and developed skills are wasted at the wing, where he just sits on the boards in the defensive zone or covers a defenseman in the high slot. He's ready to take on more responsibility and put his skating to use. Right now at EV he just goes up and down the wing like a Magnus Paajarvi who can score.
You want your best offensive threat to be given more defensive responsibilities and play deeper in his own zone? That's like turning Secretariat into a plough horse.

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01-23-2013, 11:03 AM
  #20
Giggli G
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Originally Posted by Moose Coleman View Post
You want your best offensive threat to be given more defensive responsibilities and play deeper in his own zone? That's like turning Secretariat into a plough horse.
All of the top 4 scoring players in the NHL last year were centermen, and 6 of the top 10. Being a centerman doesn't automatically result in less offensive production. In fact, it can often help.

One of the points of this is that he has the speed to be everywhere on the ice.

So, respectfully, your analogy is incorrect.

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01-23-2013, 11:11 AM
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Moose Coleman
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Originally Posted by Giggli G View Post
All of the top 4 scoring players in the NHL last year were centermen, and 6 of the top 10. Being a centerman doesn't automatically result in less offensive production. In fact, it can often help.

One of the points of this is that he has the speed to be everywhere on the ice.

So, respectfully, your analogy is incorrect.
And how many of those top scoring centres are guys who you would classify as "two-way" players? You specifically mention putting Hall in a role where he has to shoulder more defensive responsibility, so I'm sure you can understand why I don't have him pegged as a Stamkos or Malkin type.

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01-23-2013, 11:18 AM
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NAF
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I think we should also consider putting MPS at center, or perhaps defence. J Schultz could play LW on Hall's line, maybe with Belanger switching back to D to take his spot. Actually, what about Eager? Can he skate backwards? If so, he'd be a great offensive defenceman owing to his unique skillset of having legs and both arms. Dubnyk as a crashing offensive winger would really give us some size on our top two offensive lines, plus he has a corporeal form, instead of being an ethereal cloud of protoplasm in a non-gas permeable containment suit, like so many other hockey players these days.


Last edited by NAF: 01-23-2013 at 11:23 AM.
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01-23-2013, 11:20 AM
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Giggli G
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Originally Posted by Moose Coleman View Post
And how many of those top scoring centres are guys who you would classify as "two-way" players? You specifically mention putting Hall in a role where he has to shoulder more defensive responsibility, so I'm sure you can understand why I don't have him pegged as a Stamkos or Malkin type.
Stamkos is the only one in the top ten who is not great defensively.

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01-23-2013, 11:22 AM
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Giggli G
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Originally Posted by NAF View Post
I think we should also consider putting MPS at center, or perhaps defence. J Schultz could play LW on Hall's line, maybe with Belanger switching back to D to take his spot. Actually, what about Eager? Can he skate backwards? If so, he'd be a great offensive defence men owing to his great skillset of having legs and both arms. Dubnyk as a crashing offensive winger would really give us some size on our top two offensive lines, plus he has a corporeal form, instead of being an ethereal cloud of protoplasm in a non-gas permeable containment suit, like so many other hockey players these days.
Good one. Because moving from wing to center when you played center for most of your life is such an insurmountable change. People get moved around from wing to center and center to wing all the time in the NHL.

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01-23-2013, 11:23 AM
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I am not totally against the idea of Hall at center. I think it would be good for him even if he does not think so. (obviously I dont know better than he does but sometimes a person needs to actually try something to see if it will work for them)
That having been said it should have been tried when he was in the Ahl. It was the perfect opportunity to experiment a little. It is not something you do in the Nhl in a shortened season.

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