It’s Wednesday and the Calder Cup Quarterfinals turn the page on their game threes, and the Oklahoma City Barons are in that special group. The teams split the first two games in Oklahoma City, but the momentum is slightly favoring the Barons after a 5-2 victory and a hat trick (in one period) by Mark Arcobello.
The concern for Charlotte to start the series was goaltending, and to me, through two games, Rob Madore is still the guy. That is unless Jeff Daniels and his gang of merry men find his latest performance worth of a switch. I don’t think so, but crazier things have happened. Likewise, a key positional change in a short, and right now tied, hockey series is dangerous territory to traverse.
Health remains the key ingredient for both groups. Alex Plante, having successful jaw surgery, will be replaced in the lineup (likely alongside Randy Jones) by Colten Teubert. As I wrote yesterday, this isn’t a solid lock for Colten, but rather the obvious choice to fill that role. I think we are surprised by how Mr. Teubert plays. In previous starts against the Checkers this season, Teubert was fairly consistent. In eight games he went +4 with a goal and an assist, and only recorded a minus in the +/- category once. Yet I’d argue there were at least two games where he was a complete non-factor, offensively or defensively. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Charlotte gets to a point in the postseason where they have seventeen legit, offensive forwards. That’s a bunch. Head Coach Jeff Daniels has casually mentioned that he has three options at his disposal offensively – sizzling fast, burly, and a combination of the two. The sizzling fast likely gives the young Barons defensive core a workout, and in seasons gone by, that’s how Charlotte handled Oklahoma City.
Game three starts tonight at 6:00pm CT, and will be an important measuring stick for both squads. The winner of the one today is just one more game away from the second round. Honestly, it could go either way, and that makes for fantastic hockey.