Workin’ For The Weekend (Tuesday Edition): Tuesxas Stars “Circle In The Sand”

Belinda Carlisle Circle
We love Belinda. You should too.

Good grief, if the Go-Go’s weren’t fantastic. For three years, they wrote and performed some of the greatest pop music of the 80’s. Forget that they were an all-female outfit, a rarity up until that time, because they had armloads of talent that pales in comparison to others of the decade. They were so so good.

I was a toddler when the Go-Go’s came about, so I learned about them in reverse and through the lovely Belinda Carlisle. She too had some memorable tunes, albeit not nearly as sturdy as when she was with the Go-Go’s, but memorable nonetheless. Unlike the quick burning candle of her former band, Carlisle still churns out music for the fun of it, and that’s admirable.

“I Get Weak”, “Mad About You”, and of course, “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” were successful singles from her solo career. But the talent that oozed from Carlisle from day one (drums, guitars, vocals) is a common thread throughout her entire catalog of popular music. She was/is a keeper.

The lesser known, but chart hitting single, “Circle In The Sand” was a melodramatic MTV screen grabber. Belinda on the beach. Sultry keyboard with a beat. Eternal summer love. This one’s a winner by every stretch of the imagination. But there’s more to this song than just a young lady wandering aimlessly through the sand, recounting the steps she took throughout the relationship, it’s about a never ending cycle. “I begin where you end,” suggests that time has passed, but moving on is nearly impossible.

Spinning wheels, running in a circle, round and round we go – perhaps that’s the Oklahoma City Barons season in a nutshell. Really good as individuals to start the season, really bad as a team. Lose those really good players, start to look more like a team. But that team doesn’t have the really good players to sustain a tough season. The moving parts are indeed moving, but maybe in a circle, and unless your Belinda Carlisle on the beach…that’s not good.

So the Barons begin the final 1/3 of the AHL season with a meet and beat with the Texas Stars at home this evening. Texas is really really good. Despite the loss of team members throughout the early portions of the NHL season, they’ve gotten better. A dangerous mix of solid defense, solid goaltending, solid/balanced scoring culminates with many opponents running for the exits. So the Barons will have their hands full.

Despite a winning record against them this season, the Stars are clearly the better team in February of 2013. Recent callups of Oleksiak, Benn, Smith, Roussel, Nilstorp, and Fraser make things interesting as the season grinds down to April. Their 7-1-0-2 over the last ten (including back-to-back beatings of the Barons in early February) is the best during that span in the entire Western Conference. For Texas, it’s about consistency, and ironically enough, they’ve done it thus far. Hoping they haven’t “peaked to early” might be a concern, but when you’ve proven you can handle callup adversity, chances are you’ll be okay.

Oklahoma City most recently split a home and home against the Houston Aeros. Yann got the back-to-back start after Hovinen did the same the week before. So for OKC, the time for these goaltenders to get really hot starts tonight. But with each playing semi-okay in their most recent starts, Coach Nelson has a big decision to make in terms of who he rides tonight, and how the tandem rolls through a busy March schedule. I’d go Hovinen tonight.

With Kristians Pelss seeming injured for an unknown duration, the Barons called upon Stockton Thunder centerman, Eric Hunter. He played wing, survived, but didn’t seem to be a long term answer to the Pelssian absence. So the team has inked a PTO with Ontario Reign dominator, C.J. Stretch. He’s a guy that could pull off a Marcobello like season down the stretch, and perhaps earn additional time with the team in the future. He’ll likely not suit up for the Barons tonight (announced this morning doesn’t always mean he’s ready to play).

Randy Jones and Brett Clark, brought in to “make a difference” defensively have done that. Clark is the sturdy veteran with some great PK skills. Jones is the tough, but smart blue liner with an ever increasing display of skill sets that surprise. The two have made the team better defensively as the concerns for Teubert and Plante (long-term) continue. As a group, the entire squad will need to be good defensively.

Offensively the team will have to rely on Cheechoo, Rajala, Arcobello, and Cornet for scoring nightly. 3/4 of that crew wasn’t in Oklahoma City to start the season, and the bizarre world of North American hockey in 2012-13 continues. But they are up for the task. Cheechoo has been playing dangerous hockey. Fifteen points in eleven games is other-worldly, and let’s vigilantly choose to believe he can keep up the pace. He’ll need to. But for Cheechoo in particular, he’s made others around him better, and that’s something the team greatly missed in a post-lockout world. Watch for him to continue to push the gas pedal along with his fellow linemates and teammates.

The holy smokes of the Barons schedule begins in March, and it will be tough to balance the travel schedule with conditioning and the overwhelming thought of trying to secure a playoff spot. It will be tough, it is doable, but every game matters from here on out.

Game starts at the Cox Center tonight at 7:00pm. Get their early, WWE is going on across the street.