New Jersey Devils: Taylor Hall Is Not The Problem

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 03: Yanni Gourde #37 of the Tampa Bay Lightning (l) celebrates his goal at 12:39 of the second period and is joined by Steven Stamkos #91 (r) as Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils reacts at the Prudential Center on December 03, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 03: Yanni Gourde #37 of the Tampa Bay Lightning (l) celebrates his goal at 12:39 of the second period and is joined by Steven Stamkos #91 (r) as Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils reacts at the Prudential Center on December 03, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The New Jersey Devils have been in a tailspin, and head coach John Hynes tried to send a message to his team by sitting his best player. The process makes sense on paper, but punishing Taylor Hall is not good in the long run.

The New Jersey Devils have been the worst team in the entire league over the past month. They only won four games in all of November, and they’ve lost the first two games of December. Things are going about as badly as possible for the Devils, and there are no signs the team will stop the bleeding.

Once teams end up in this position, they end up getting desperate. Head coaches will do just about anything to get a spark from their team. That means going to the very top of the food chain, and going after their star.

That’s exactly what John Hynes did when he sat Taylor Hall for the last 7:21 of the second period for the Devils game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a move that worried Devils fans, as they thought Hall might be hurt. That wasn’t the case. Hynes was having Hall ride the pine because that’s what he felt was right.

Now, I will admit that Hall had a very bad night. His Corsi rating to that point was the worst on the team. He was allowing more shots than he was taking, and the reigning MVP was losing the puck way too often.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about how that was a terrible decision. Did I mention that Hall is the reigning MVP? I did? And John Hynes still took him off the ice when the Devils needed a goal to get back into this game.

The Devils were down 4-1 after Yanni Gourde scored with the aforementioned 7:21 left in the period. Being down three seems almost insurmountable in one period. Being down two, however, seems like a climbable mountain. If Hall was on the ice, who knows, maybe he makes something happen and brings the Devils within two.

Hall has been trying to do too much. He’s playing like he’s all by himself, and that needs to be fixed. He isn’t trusting his linemates like he did last season. That’s strange, but it’s something he could work through quickly.

If Hynes thought Hall needed to clear his head, that’s one thing, but that’s not what this what. Based on his comments postgame, this was clearly a punishment.

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For one, if you’re punishing players by forcing them to sit, then why is Andy Greene on the ice? The team had seven defensemen dressed, so if someone needed to sit, wouldn’t it be the under performing captain? Greene has not been good at all this season, and his faults are more closely directed to the team’s losses.

Hall, on the other hand, has been on a point-per-game pace. He’s on pace to score the second most points in his career. He’s still a superstar, he’s just trying to be Superman.

Hall needs to have the reigns pulled back, not be punished. Yes, this season has gone horribly. Hall isn’t the same player he was at his peak last season. That player is hard to replicate. That doesn’t mean you take him off the ice. There was a better way to fix Hall’s issues.

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The solution to any of Hynes problems should never be to take Hall off the ice. He’s the best player on the ice in 99 percent of situations. There is no scenario where I will believe that pulling Hall from the lineup will benefit the team. It didn’t seem to work on Monday night, and it likely would never work in the future. The downfall of the Devils is in spite of Taylor Hall, not because of him.