The incomparable Michael Jackson said it the best, “Wanna be startin’ somethin’, gotta be startin’ somethin’. A song about rumors and back stabbing, the legendary track represents a nice joining of 70’s disco and 80’s pop. It’s also a perfect metaphor for the beginning of the AHL season, and the Barons in particular.
Rumors. Pro sports are full of them. Sometimes they prove to be true, many times they are covered up, and often they are completely false. The rumored lineup in Oklahoma City this season was to be full of high end players with years of NHL experience under the belt. Nuge, Ebs, Schultz, and eventually Hall will be names that become synonomis with the 2012-2013 American Hockey League season. And what a glorious sight it will be to behold with my own eyes.
Rumors. Would this really be the most dominate team that the AHL has seen in years? Perhaps. And it will be hard to guage success early in the season, but the rumors all lead to the lack of imperfection that OKC will have if any. And so we embark, “starin’ somethin'” that likely proves the rumors of the almighty Barons to be 100% true. Even if Billie Jean says otherwise.
October 5th and October 6th vs. Houston Aeros
The Houston Aeros are going to land at the bottom of the heap in the Western Division this year. Their lack of young prospects at the top of the system will, in the end, be their downfall. But don’t count them out. After a hefty training camp, and a Western Conference playoff spot a season ago, they could weather a difficult storm amongst the Barons, Stars, Checkers, and Rampage. It will be a tough task, but it’s hard to overlook the coaching staff in Houston.
The team lost a 7-2 exhibition game only days ago at the hands of the Texas Stars. The full story is that the best-of-the-best on this team were healthy scratches in that affair, and eventually twelve players in total would be cut or re-assigned off the camp roster. The team we see in OKC this weekend will be vastly different than the one we heard about getting trounced in Austin.
Three preseason games, all on the road, is likely the worst way to start a season in the minors. But the Aeros needed the time to shed their camp roster. And there is likely some strategic planning involved here. The Aeros first six games of the regular season will be balanced home and away, but will all be against West Div opponents. There’s also a chance that the good faith handshake will be extended to Houston next season where they could get a better exhibition schedule worked out (one that involved more home games).
Drew Bagnell, the likeliest to captain the Aeros ship, is one to keep an eye on. He’s a locker room guy that also keeps his eye on the prize. He’s the heart and soul of this team.
Charlie Coyle is a name that not only rolls of the tongue, a shifty scorer with size, will be tough to handle in the upcoming season.
The biggest eyeballed prospect for the Wild/Aeros is Mikael Granlund, a 9th overall pick in 2010. He’s a studly Finn that Wild fans know well. He’s the type of prospect that is gaspingly good.
For Oklahoma City, the hot names will not be playing during exhibition games. Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will sit these weekend games out, and rightfully so. Add to the pile Martin Marincin, who donned a protective colored sweater thingee the entire week of training camp. So who is going to play?
Thanks to Bob Gianettino for the tip, but below are Friday’s projected lines. Strange, yes. But ’tis the season for odd line configurations.
Cornet – Martindale – Hartikainen
Hamilton – Lander – Pelss
Tyrvainen – Arcobello – Maylan
Rajala – Hunter – Abney
Ringwald – Schultz
Zahn – Fedun
Davidson – Teubert
Roy – Bunz
I’ll blow past the forwards because those are wanky enough to not even consider as game day lines. Instead, I’ll fixate on the defense. First, Teubert-Davidson is the pair I’m anxious to see play. Pats alums, similar styles of play, and together – might be an interesting twosome. Schultz-Ringwald is a fast moving tandem. Puck quickness is their forte. And the debut of Fedun (after a nasty nasty injury) has him nestled in with Zahn, a newcomer to the Barons as well (who had a decent camp).
Cuts will officially be made after tonight’s game, and then again on Saturday. But when your team is stacked like a brick house the cuts have been made long before exhibition games. Maylan and Hunter will be gone quickly. As will a few other names. The reassignments to Stockton will be the most interesting for the water cooler the next morning.
If you’re able, head to the Cox Center for both games. Free admission with a donation of important baby needs to the Infant Crisis Services of Oklahoma City. A good time shall be had by all, and a good cause shall be tended to.
For those outside of the OKC area, listen online at LIVE 365 (app or line) and via AHL Live (ching ching).