After 26 Straight Games Played With At Least A Point, It's Time To Fully Appreciate Both Taylor Hall And His Streak
What a ride. What a fucking ride. Let us, for the sake of the journey's significance, forget that it carries an asinine asterisk, endured more valleys than peaks, and came to an abrupt halt in a head-on collision with the drunken, swerving reality that is the Devils' dwindling playoff aspirations. What Taylor Hall has done all season, and specifically since the turn of the calendar, is thrown a young, inexperienced team on his back and dragged them to the doorstep of the postseason in a way that not only makes me question how much he can squat, but also a way that has never been seen before in New Jersey. Of all banners that hang amongst the Prudential Center, I can comfortably say that none of them are the result of such an extensive period of heavy lifting by one player, and that's why said player is the first in franchise history to have a legitimate shot at winning the Hart Trophy.
Now, the fact that it took something as fragile as a historic point streak (blow me, Bettman) - that he was about a half inch away from continuing - for his name to get legitimately included in the conversation probably says a lot about how much emphasis the simple-minded voters put on statistics. Regardless, whether or not he wins it, the man that leads the Devils in scoring by a margin that's so laughably large that tears would form in your eyes before you were able to double check it has been as/or more important to his team's unexpected success than anyone in the league since the first puck drop of opening night. If numbers are the barometer then consider that throughout the streak Taylor Hall had a hand in 38 of the 77 (an outrageous 49.3%) goals the Devils scored. That would be impressive enough, if - and only if - it didn't include the three games in which he wasn't even dressed.
But, you know what, fuck the numbers. That's a weird thing to say about a run that was contingent on them, but there's been nights where that 50% figure felt like a disservice to the Taylor Hall's relative value to his team. The more eyes that have been on him as he's dominated alongside a teenager - and for a majority of the time, two - the more often he's left them clouded with dust from the wheels of a one man breakout. Every time he's taken the ice he's been the best player on it, and he's needed to be for a group that often doesn't know it's ass from it's elbow without him.
If I absolutely had to offer an analogy, I would say that Taylor Hall taking it upon himself to go streaking saved the rest of his teammates from looking more hopelessly vulnerable than 'Frank the Tank' trying to hunt down a 24-hour KFC with his dick flapping in the early morning winds. The only difference is that most of them have been a bit more noticeably cold, if you know what I mean.
Tallying thirty-eight points (18 goals, 20 assists) in twenty-six games - with no shortage of those games ending in a way that left even the most agnostic of Devils' fans saying "thank fucking heaven for Taylor Hall" and the most god-fearing of Oilers fans burning crosses while tearing into an empty tub of ice cream - is unreal. What they have meant to an organization that's trying desperately to put an end to a five year playoff drought, however, is truly something that can't even be quantified.