First off, a bit of an apology. Life has become life, and things around the head farm hand’s house have been mighty busy. Nonetheless, we solider on towards a new crop of writings that will both entertain the mind and dazzle the senses. Or just be quality bathroom reading material. I digress.
The Oklahoma City Barons, hanging around in the Windy City to face the Chicago Wolves, understand what needs to be done to make the postseason. And despite their valiant efforts of late, they’ve fallen towards mediocre land, and that’s where they’d stay on a Wednesday evening. Despite scoring first and last in regulation, they’d again go to a shootout where they’d be “out skilled” by the Wolves (handily I might add in terms of WOW), and surrender an extra standing point TO A TEAM THEY ARE CHASING FOR A FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT. The Barons would lose 3-2.
With Teemu Hartikainen fresh from the NHL scratching post in Edmonton, the Barons would have a solid first period against the Chicago Wolves, at least for the first five minutes. Anton Lander, centering that Hartikainen line with Toni Rajala on the left wing, would net his fifth AHL goal of the season, and put OKC on the score sheet first. But promptly the Wolves would score twice, post-five-minute-mark on only seven shots, and like clockwork the Barons would be down two goals after the first twenty minutes.
In the second, much of the play took place in the Wolves end. And OKC would again score in the opening minutes of a period, this time from Alex Plante of all people, and the team was quickly knotted up with the Wolves. The Barons would take eleven total shots, again outshooting their opponent in a period, but it was Chicago goaltender Matt Climie who kept heated scoring at bay. A late period Anton Lander roughing call was skirted away, and the period would end with a familiar 2-2 tie.
The third period featured no scoring, but high opportunities. Yann and Matt both climbed into their groove more than they had the entire game, and the battle was on. The Wolves would give the Barons two power play opportunities at crucial moments in the game, but were able to keep the defensive posturing strong. With a 2-2 tie, the overtime period was looming.
And indeed, the Barons would nearly give the game away when Jonathan Cheechoo commited a high sticking penalty with a nearly-full two minutes remaining in the OT period. Chicago rifled off at least one good scoring chance, and perhaps two other shots, and OKC fell flat. OT ended, and the game was still tied.
Here the results of the shootout:
Oklahoma City Shootout
Anton Lander No Goal
Josh Green Goal
Teemu Hartikainen No Goal
Toni Rajala No Goal
Mark Arcobello No Goal
Philippe Cornet No Goal
Darren Haydar No Goal
Brett Sterling No Goal
Michael Davies Goal
Anton Rodin No Goal
Bill Sweatt No Goal
Nicklas Jensen Goal
The Chicago Wolves defeated the Oklahoma City Barons, in a 3-2 shootout.
God bless Toni Rajala. No matter who he plays with, what side of the rink he plays on, the kid can produce. And with Anton Lander and Teemu Hartikainen, he was special when no one else was. So let’s stop for a moment, pause, and reflect on the ONE prospect deep in the pipe that has potential. I’ve been saying for months that he is the one prospect worth watching at this point (Pelss is a close second, but injury has knocked him to second). And that’s good news for the Oilers amidst lots of sorrow for a prospect pool.
Hartikainen did Hartikainen things last night. He’s valuable in the minors. He’s valuable int he majors. I’d like to see him win a contract very soon. It feels as if the Oilers are comparing Paajarvi and Hartikainen in head-to-head situations like they have to choose one over the other. I petition that Hartikainen might just be a more valuable player than say, Mike Brown(?!?!?!). Nonetheless, this feels like a Sophie’s Choice moment in time for Paajarvi/Hartikainen. Interested to see who they become more committed to long term (and it seems MPS trade rumors are heating up).
That first line – Philippe Cornet, Mark Arcobello, Jonathan Cheechoo – nonexistent on Wednesday night. Cheechoo, in particular, hasn’t scored a goal in quite some time. Teams are matching up very well with these three, and perhaps proving why the three remain in the minors. Flash forward a season, all three might be gone. I was the loudest SIGN CHEECHOO cheerleader, now I’m eating crow. When someone wonders, “Why isn’t Cheechoo an NHL player?”, point them to March 2013. They’ll understand.
Yann Danis hasn’t had much help, but he’s on a short leash. No reason to not steer Hovinen out for a number of games to see if he can steal one or two that goes deep. With that in mind, Yann did keep the Wolves scoreless for two straight period, but remember, they already had a lead and were semi-protecting it after the first twenty minutes.
The team is just a hot mess right now. They play games deep, but are completely void of a “dagger”, where they find that next gear. ‘Tis a shame too, because this will likely be the first season that Oilers fans won’t have their minor league OKC team in a postseason tourney when their own NHL version misses the Summer Series. Likewise, a ohhhh man moment for Barons fans. For shame.
Said with feeling…two very important games coming up this weekend, both on the road. Peoria, who has a better chance than OKC of making the playoffs as well as Rockford, will tangle with the B’s in coming days. The Barons will probably take one, momentarily steal our hearts back, but lose the other. And back to mediocrity we go.
XOXO – Neal, Grinnin’ & Baron’ It In OKC