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A Long December And There's Reason To Believe

December 1, 2020, 6:58 PM ET [18 Comments]
NHL news by Garth • RSSArchiveCONTACT

U.S. Thanksgiving has long been the mile marker in the NHL season where GM and head coaches assess their individual players and contemplate roster additions and subtractions.

Not this year. Not now.

With COVID19 outbreaks ravaging the United States and Canada at alarming rates, the NHL players and owners are hunkered down as they work together to formulate a mutually beneficial economic and safety strategy for the return to play. The majority of NHL players are skating in their respective home towns and franchise cities to keep the moving parts clean and the rust off their wheels.

While we sit here on pause, I remain confident that the 2021 NHL season will begin on February 1.

A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin'
Now the days go by so fast
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California I think you should
Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean I guess I should
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Buffalo Sabres fans should be enthralled by what they can see in the below video (courtesy Dan Ninkovich, BTNL).

The stud in the royal blue pants with gold strip down the side is newly minted Sabres power forward Taylor Hall, who has been working out in earnest with other NHL players in Toronto.

This is our first official glimpse of Taylor Hall in Buffalo Sabres colors, albeit just the pants.
That's Sabres forward Jeff Skinner on the ice as well. Hall and Skinner have been friends since they played together on Team Canada at the World Championships. Hall holds onto the puck like he's carrying a a shop vac around the ice with him. Marvel at his power game below the dots, behind the net and in the corners. Taylor Hall dominates from the dots down.

Sabres fans have a lot to be thankful for in this the season of giving. Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula shocked the hockey world when they gave their blessings to their rookie general manager Kevyn Adams to sign rock star free agent Taylor Hall to a one-year contract with an $8 million annual average value.

High tide is about to float all boats in Buffalo's inner harbor on Lake Erie.

Captain Jack Eichel has never played with a dominating all star power winger like Hall.

During the long COVID19 layoff from hockey, Eichel and hockey hall of famer Adam Oates have been working on the sniper's shot accuracy, selection and repetition.

It will be commonplace for Hall and Eichel to play pitch and catch with one another and drive opposing defensemen and goalies absolutely insane with their laser-like passing and lightning fast releases. Hall and Eichel will force defensemen to break their contain and chase the puck in their end of the rink. Victor Olofsson need only drive the net with his stick on the ice because Hall and Eichel will command double teams while creating chaos in the O-zone and will be feeding the Swede the puck early and often in games.

It will not surprise me in the list when, not if, when Hall, Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Victor Olofsson and Samson Reinhart all score 30 plus goals apiece this season. I'm calling my shot now. The Sabres will get a minimum of 150 goals , and a minimum of 100 goals at even strength this season, from the quality quintet of Hall-Eichel-Skinner-Olofsson-Reinhart.

Last season, Eichel tucked a career high 36 goals. Reinhart scored 22 and Olofsson 20. Skinner had a disappointing 2019-20 campaign by scoring only 14 goals after potting 40 goals in 2018-19. Hall scored 16 goals last season after scoring 11 goals in just 33 games in 2018-19. Hall won the Hart Trophy in 2018 after leading the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup playoffs with career-high totals in goals (39), assists (54) and points (93).

I believe that healthy and motivated Taylor Hall will be the agent of change for the Sabres. Hall can go a long way to pumping up the Buffalo offense that struggled to find its consistency last season.

Adding Hall to the Eichel-Olofsson duo will allow Samson Reinhart and Jeff Skinner to roll with newly acquired second line center Eric Staal, who is still very the very productive at age 36. while with the Minnesota Wild, Staal scored 19 goals last season, 22 goals in 2018-19 and 42 goals in 2017-18.

Hall is no wait and see free agent signee. To the contrary. Hall is a bona fide MVP candidate that can drive his line and elevate the play of his unit of five at even strength. Hall also kills opponents with his fast hands and fast feet on the power play.

Hall's 1.05 points per game in the last three seasons ranks him 17th in the NHL.

Hall been selected to four NHL All-Star Games in his career.

Ralph Krueger has ample horse power and enough elite level skill to drive his Sabres to their first playoff appearance since 2011.

A long December and there's reason to believe.

Maybe this year will be better than the last.

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