Balanced Devils Attack Allowing Hall to Flourish

Taylor Hall continues to rack up the points. What’s been driving his good play recently? Ken Daneyko provides an explanation. Taylor Hall had another terrific game in Chicago, posting a goal and two assists in the win [Sunday night]. With the added firepower the team has this season, is there less pressure on him to produce and, in the process, allowing him to play better without that pressure?

Ken Daneyko: Well, I think there’s less pressure for a lot of guys on the team. Every team wants to have balance and your top guys can’t produce for 82 games straight. There are going to be nights where it’s just not working for them and a lot of scorers are just really streaky.

Taylor has been real consistent this year and he wants to be a go-to guy. He certainly has been in the past. I think, undoubtedly, there’s less pressure on the top guys and they’re just allowed to play their game. It’s certainly nice that he’s got a lot of support around him.

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I still preface that it’s still early in the season, but you can tell that this Devils team has a lot of character right now which was evident in the comeback in Chicago. And it’s not just Taylor Hall that’s giving you something. It’s veterans like Kyle Palmieri, who is such a key guy. He’s such a heartbeat type of a guy for this team. When he’s in the lineup, the team has such a different dynamic because of his work, his offensive ability and the way he plays the game.

All these leaders, and the guys that have been around this team for a while, are leading the charge. They’ve got a great supporting cast right now and that’s a recipe for success. We know that guys like Hall and Palmieri are extremely important to the Devils’ offense. Surprisingly, it’s Brian Gibbons leading the team in goals scored this season with eight. What have you seen from Gibbons that has allowed him to be such a scoring threat?

Ken Daneyko: It’s simple: he’s making the most of his opportunity. He’s had to work for everything he’s got and he’s had to pay his dues in the minors before getting this chance. He’s had some stints in the National Hockey League as a veteran guy and he wasn’t a guarantee to make the team.

All he did was work hard and the coaching staff saw that he can add an element to the team. Obviously, [general manager] Ray [Shero] and [coach] John [Hynes] had a good rapport with him from their time in Pittsburgh. They felt like he was a guy who can help the team and he’s got a lot of skill. Sometimes it’s just getting the right opportunity at the right time. The other part is making the most of it and he certainly has. He’s got the coach’s confidence.

His career high was five goals in 41 games for Pittsburgh during the 2013-14 season, but you’d imagine he wouldn’t get much of an opportunity behind guys like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. In New Jersey, he’s taking advantage of everything. At the start of the season, would you have expected eight goals from him? Probably not. But that’s why the team is so much more improved, getting contributions from guys like Gibbons and others. He works his tail off and there’s no substitute for hard work.

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