Matthew Wilder, the one hit wonder performer of the song “Break My Stride”, spent most of his life behind the scenes of the music biz. Background vocalist, record producer, Oscar soundtrack tinkerer, and influential engineer. But he’ll never be able to shake the residue of a song with a chorus that is equally as catchy as it is annoying. “Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride. Nobody’s gonna slow me down, oh no. I got to keep on movin'” – wow, I had to hum that as I typed. Thanks for nothing, Mr. Wilder.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Wilder found himself disenfranchised with the music industry. No one gave him a break, nor did they consider his potential. So he penned a tune that made him feel better, that forced him to smile, that talked about never succumbing to poor relationships, terrible times, or sadness. A stride certainly isn’t worth breaking.
The Oklahoma City Barons are a team that likes to stride. Or at least on paper. We’ve seen four games, and in those games have seen some great hockey. Highly entertaining, highly energetic, and maybe a tad disappointing for Barons fans. Nonetheless, the team is playing well despite the .500 record in the first full week of AHL play. It would be easy for fans to feel disheartened at the moment. To emote strong feelings of “Why” “What” or “How” when it’s entirely too early to judge any team. So I implore you…look to the 80’s treasure that demands a stride not be broken, that no one be able to hold you down. Oh no, you gotta keep on moving.
Again it’s the Lake Erie Monsters. Again it’s the Oklahoma City Barons. In what will be the fifth game of the 2012-13 season for OKC, the team will have faced the Monsters four of those times. Stupid scheduling, yes. Mainly because it’s the only time in the regular season that these two will meet, and my oh my has it been entertaining. Let’s look at the short, but intense series numbers.
- First two games this season were decided by one goal. The third game by two goals.
- It’s early, but worth pointing out based on whom they’ve played recently. The Lake Erie Monsters are in first place in the Western Conference while the Oklahoma City Barons are in ninth.
- Lake Erie has allowed 7 goals and scored 17. The Barons are obviously closer together on the differential scale with 11 allows and 12 scored.
- The overall power play for Oklahoma City is 5.9% success. Boiled down to the real number that’s 1/17. Yikes. The penalty kill overall has taken a dive recently as well. Now at 76%, it took a dip on Saturday when they gave up two third period pp goals.
- The Monsters leading scorer is 30 year old Thomas Pock. The Barons leading scorer is 22 year old Justin Schultz. The careers of these two couldn’t be more polar opposite at the present time. But both have been dynamite for their teams.
Once again, we dive into a shallow pool of stats so early in the season but it’s interesting nonetheless. The Barons and Monsters have teetered on bitter rivalry for years, and to start the season in this fashion, has fueled that slightly. It’s not a nasty rivalry, but one where the compete level is at its finest. Expect Tuesday to be nothing short of fantastic.
Lake Erie Monsters (4-1-0-0) vs. Oklahoma City Barons (2-2-0-0)
Projected Barons Lineup
Teemu Hartikainen – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi – Ryan Martindale – Mark Arcobello
Antti Tyrvainen – Anton Lander – Curtis Hamilton
Dane Byers – Chris VandeVelde – Tyler Pitlick
Justin Schultz – Martin Marincin
Brandon Davidson – Colten Teubert
Taylor Fedun – Alex Plante
Scratched: Tanner House, Kristians Pelss, Dan Ringwald
Injured: Josh Green (ribs)
The starting five of Lake Erie (Olver, Barrie, Malone, Pock, Thomas) has been devastating for OKC. Thus Nelson is trying to close the gap on the scoring, but adding some speed deeper in the lineup and mostly with the forwards. But the greater issue is the defensive players on the ice when the top scoring threat of Erie is hanging around. And although Dan Ringwald is listed as a potential scratch, he might be a viable defensive candidate to replace Plante or Teubert. They need some wheels.
It’s time for the Barons goaltenders to bail the team out. Dangerously close to averaging 3 goals allowed a game isn’t blindingly terrible, except when your goals for are only slightly better. Danis looks to turn a page tonight, assuming he continues the on/off pattern with Olivier Roy.
Justin Schultz is chasing a record. John Slaney holds the AHL goal records in two categories. First, AHL single season goals scored by rookie defenseman (20), and AHL single season goals scored by a defenseman (30). At the rate Schultz is traveling he might break the record by Christmas.
On Monday’s radio show, Todd Nelson talked about the doldrums of a power play unit that we’ve seen in the first 10 days of the season. “It has to get better. It will get better.” Also mentioned discussing this matter with Taylor Hall, whom is now taking light contact in practice.