Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall Renewing Rivalry With First Meeting in NHL

Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall Renewing Rivalry With First Meeting in NHL It's the matchup NHL fans, draftniks and even Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin themselves have been waiting for since June 25.

That was when Hall and Seguin were taken first and second respectively in the NHL draft, finally settling a year-long debate over who would be the top pick after the pair of teenaged stars dueled throughout the season in the Ontario Hockey League.

Now, almost eight months to the day later, Hall and Seguin will finally meet for the first time as pros as Hall's Oilers host Seguin and the Bruins in Edmonton on Sunday night.

Three-quarters of the way through their rookie seasons, it certainly appears that Edmonton made the right choice, but both players have long careers ahead of them and it will take many more years before the final verdict can be reached.

Still, there's no denying that Hall is putting together a special season in Edmonton. Through 62 games, he has 21-19-40 totals in 62 games. Four of those goals have come in his last four games, including a natural hat trick against Atlanta on Feb. 19. That turned a 3-1 deficit into a 4-3 lead in the third period of an eventual 5-3 win for the Oilers.

"That ranks right up there with my first NHL game and Memorial Cups and stuff like that," Hall told the Edmonton Journal after that game. "Getting a hat trick is a little bit of a different feeling. You get a sense of accomplishment. You get to feel good about yourself, skating over the bench while everyone's cheering your name. It's a special feeling."

Those special moments have been harder to come by for Seguin, though he does have 3-2-5 totals in his last eight games, responding well to being made a healthy scratch in back-to-back games earlier this month. That still puts his season totals at a modest 10-11-21 line through 57 games, but he's also averaging just 12:18 of ice time a game, compared to 17:56 for Hall.

With the Bruins in the thick of a playoff race and points at a premium, don't expect Seguin's ice time to increase any time soon. In fact, he's now playing on the fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Greg Campbell after the addition of Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, who are playing together on the third line with Michael Ryder

The Bruins are content with bringing Seguin along more slowly, and insist they're satisfied with the progress he's shown.

"Again for people who have heard me say it a million times, he has a ton of talent," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Seguin prior to the start of their current six-game road trip. "Maybe he hasn't had the benefit of other players such as a Hall in Edmonton, who has played for Memorial Cup teams and so on so forth. We all know that his skill set is high and his potential is also very high. He's developed with us. I think he's made some great strides.

"His game may have slipped a little bit lately, he doesn't have the privilege of playing on a rebuilding team where you keep throwing guys like that out. He's on a team that aspires to bigger and better things and probably a team that has a lot more experience. He has that time to be patient with that. Other than that I think he's a guy who has a great attitude, he's a guy that understands he has to do what it takes to get himself to be a better player. That's all you can ask from him."

The Oilers have asked for more of Hall, and he's delivered with a 20-goal campaign that's included eight power-play goals and four game-winners.

"At the start of the year, you don't really set any goals for yourself, especially as a young kid coming in because you don't know what to expect or how the league is going to treat you," hall told the Edmonton Journal. "To get 20 goals is a pretty good accomplishment."

Hall has also been a physical presence with 48 hits and 36 blocked shots, and hasn't been shy offensively with a team-leading 183 shots. That's 36 more shots than any other Oiler this season and 47 more than any other forward.

Seguin, by contrast, has just 10 hits, 16 blocked shots and 105 shots this season.

It's not the first time the statistical comparison has been tilted in Hall's favor. This might be their first professional matchup, but they went head to head 11 times in the regular season and twice in postseason series in the OHL.

Hall's Windsor squad went 7-4 against Seguin's Plymouth Whalers in the regular season, and won both playoff series en route to a pair of OHL championships and Memorial Cup titles. Hall had 7-9-16 totals and was a plus-3 in the 11 regular-season meetings, and had another 5-11-16 and was a plus-7 in 10 playoff games.

Seguin had some success as well, going 7-4-11 and a minus-4 in the regular season, but just 3-2-5 and a minus-9 on the playoffs. That includes no points and a minus-6 while Hall had eight points and a plus-6 in a four-game sweep in the second round last spring.

But Seguin still felt he benefited from the competition, as he and Hall each finished with 106 points to pace the OHL.

"On on the ice throughout the year I think we pushed each other," Seguin said during training camp. "We were chasing each other for the [OHL] scoring championship and the top pick, but in the end we made each other better players and off the ice we became decent friends."

Now they get to see if they can push each other to further heights in the pro ranks as they clash in the NHL for the first time on Sunday.

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