It’s been a long road to recovery for Taylor Hall, and the Devils’ winger appears more determined than ever to claim Lord Stanley this season after a less-than-ideal end to the last.
Hall missed the last 47 games of the 2018-19 season for New Jersey after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in February. The Devils (72 points) finished 29th in the NHL out of 31 teams ahead of only the Los Angeles Kings (71 points) and the Ottowa Senators (64 points).
So this time around, Hall said New Jersey is going for broke.
“I think if we don’t make the (playoffs), that’s a huge disappointment for everyone,” Hall said, per NHL.com. “That’s a spot we don’t want to envision ourselves in and with the talent we brought in, the upgrades and the growth of our team, I think it’s playoffs or bust.”
It’s been a busy summer for the Devils. New Jersey made a number of acquisitions during the offseason, adding key players like defenseman P.K. Subban and forwards Wayne Simmonds and Nikita Gusev to the squad.
Hall hopes this will give the team a little extra edge.
“It was a great summer for us, there’s no doubt about it,” Hall said. “We finished 29th (in the NHL), so there were some upgrades that needed to happen, and I think they’ve all been filled. Now we see how everything fits, how guys can play in our system, and who surprises. That’s really what you’re looking for, is guys that come in and play better than you think, or you guys think they will, and I’m excited to see that.”
In fact, the 27-year-old has plenty of optimism to go around.
“This year is probably going to be a different feel. It’s expected of us, from outside and inside. But there’s a ton of growth that can happen over the course of the season when your team is competing for a playoff spot. You really see what players and your team (are) made of.”
The Devils kick off the regular season on Oct. 4 against the Winnipeg Jets.
Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images