Like switching from caffeine free Dr. Pepper to an extra large Big Gulp of Mountain Dew Code Red, the Oklahoma City Barons roared back to defeat the Texas Stars 6-2 after being shutout and beaten 0-4 the night before. Thus adding to the questioning of how this team can be so dominate, and yet be so lethargic nearly in the same breath.
The first period for Oklahoma City on Saturday night was about as dominate as a team can be in the first 20 minutes. Which is a far cry from the non existent, six shot first period they had on Friday. Justin Schultz scored his 15th goal of the season when he carried the puck off the wall, and brought it towards the center of the ice, where he’d backhand a shot while between the face off dots. It would go in on Texas’ goaltender, Cristopher Nilstorp for a 1-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, Taylor Hall deflected a Jordan Eberle shot into the goal on the first power play opportunity of the game for OKC. Schultz would get his second of the game on a fantastic wing move by Tanner House with Nilstorp expecting a low shot. Then House would get a goal of his own in the final minute of the first period. House crept in on the goaltender while the Stars’ defender negated a centering pass. Tanner would arc one over Nilstorp. The period would end with an dynamo of a 4-0 lead by OKC.
Four goals in a period, especially an opening one, spurred the Stars to switch to rookie goaltender, Jack Campbell. He’d play pretty well throughout the final two periods, but the damage had already been done.
With Campbell in tow, Tyler Pitlick would continue the scoring frenzy for Oklahoma City. Finally getting his first of the year, the young winger shoveled in the fifth straight for the Barons on the night following a Josh Green attempt. The Stars would mount a semi-attempt at a comeback care of gunner Reilly Smith who’d score back-to-back goals late in the second period, the final coming on the power play. After 40 minutes of play, Oklahoma City was on top 5-2.
The third period was a bit more defense-first for OKC, but they balanced it with occasional offensive threats. Thus always keeping Texas on their toes. Mark Arcobello scored the sixth and final goal of the game for the Barons on a long distance point shot. A flurry of late period shenanigans led to some fisticuffs by Taylor Hall, yes you read that correctly, Taylor Hall. Some funny business also occurred after the final horn resounded as well. But when you get beat badly, especially in the first 20, things are going to eventually go south.
Tyler Pitlick finally gets a goal. I was hoping this would be a breakout season for the youngster, but in the end it took him the better part of nearly 3 months to get it done. Granted he’s not playing a role that caters to his game, but his linemates (mainly Josh Green of late) might help improve his stat lines.
And how about that Josh Green? He’s had some really bad post-rib-injury games, and continues to be sketchy defensively. David Staples at the Cult of Hockey has been carefully monitoring mistakes made either with or without man advantage; Green is by far the worse. The role of captain in hockey is about as overblown a title as they come, but if he’s been given that job by his team, he needs to be better. He tends to play as the team goes. It would be nice for him to play really well late in games, when things are tight. Crossing my fingers that this begins to happen over the next couple of weeks.
The final game before Christmas, and the Barons aren’t the Barons we thought they’d be. At least not in the standings. Which leads to a further interesting point considering the play of the Oilers/Barons of 2013. This team disappeared from the face of the earth on Friday evening, and were beat soundly. 24 hours later, they dominate. Same roster. Same opponent. Very few tinkerings of the lineup, and it’s maddening to watch unfold. Wins are great, losses aren’t. But watching your team lose when you know they can win is unbearable. Consistency is key, and that just happens to be a difficult thing in hockey. It shouldn’t be, especially with a loaded team in the minors, but it likely nags this incarnation for the entire season.
Yann is momentarily Yann-like. Faced 41 shots, let in two. Thank you.
Martin Marincin goes from hero to zero within a month, and it’s starting to be troublesome. He just can’t string together more than one or two good games in a week, and that’s not good for the prospect. He’s still young. Still a rookie defender. And given his comparison to another rookie defender on the Baron, he’s gonna look bad constantly. But he’s still not doing the little things right (positioning, puck handling, ice awareness) which are little to a bunch of really big wrong things. He’ll need to be better.
A rematch of these two goes down on the 27th of December, but in Texas. That should be fun.