Denis Grebeshkov & Corey Potter Clear Waivers, Join Barons

I guess you might be surprised by one or two of these guys being placed on the waiver wires, but you most certainly are surprised by them clearing, and joining the Oklahoma City Barons. Or is that just me? With a new “swarm” in place on the defensive side of the puck, where the centerman seems to be the key ingredient, the defenders are being asked to be really sharp. And although Grebeshkov and Potter aren’t the shiniest pennies in the bank, they haven’t been awful. Nonetheless, they are headed to Oklahoma City where the struggle for spots is getting even more severe.

Here are the current Barons defenders:

Denis Grebeshkov
Phillip Larsen
Corey Potter
Oscar Klefbom
Taylor Fedun
Martin Marincin
Brandon Davidson
Brad Hunt
Martin Gernat
David Musil

This is sorta how I’d rank their placement on the depth chart as well. This means that Gernat and Musil are probably on the chopping block, and headed to Bakersfield of the ECHL. If not both, you can bank on one, and Musil has been the most underwhelming with the distance between he, Gernat, Hunt, and Davidson not being all that great.

Keep in mind that the AHL has no roster limits, and that is important to keep in mind. They can retain as many players as they want. However, this really forces some prospects into missing a ton of games. That’s not good regardless of where they fall on the depth chart.

So we go one. The Barons play two games against the Chicago Wolves this weekend, and in the coming days we will get a good idea of how the defensive core shapes up. And don’t expect it to stay that way long. Subject to change weekly.

NOTE: Anton Lander is skating with the Oilers today.

Anton Lander Assigned To Oklahoma City

Following a Sunday game in LA, Barons centerman, Oilers winger, Anton Lander, has been assigned back to the AHL. His tour of duty was short, and sweet, and somewhat solid. Icing 14:00 minutes, he did the little things right like killing penalties, and being cautious with the puck. It was nice seeing him on the wing, too, which rarely happens on the farm. The versatile nature of his game, and his continued success on the defensive side have led me to believe that Lander might make a quality fourth liner in the NHL one day. With the Oilers? Maybe not, but he certainly is making a case for sticking around for a while.

University of North Dakota Grad, Mario Lamoureux, Signs With Oklahoma City

Photo courtesy of UND Sports. All rights reserved.

Announced today, the Oklahoma City Barons have signed left shooting forward, Mario Lamoureux, to an AHL PTO. This, along with Justin Maylan last week, was done to fill some gaps in the offensive side of the puck in OKC where goals will be scarce.

In the absence of Anton Lander, Ryan Martindale, and Tyler Pitlick, the Barons were thin on offense. So much so that they iced Philip Larsen on the wing prior to signing Maylan. This is typically GM Bill Scott’s sweet spot – his ability to find players that accelerate their careers when called to the AHL – and everything about Lamoureux points to the same mode of discovery.

Following four seasons of collegiate play in North Dakoto, Lamoureux signed with the Ontario Reign of the ECHL, a place that Bill Scott has dipped his toe in before. Both Dylan Yeo (the captain at that time), and C.J. Stretch were plucked from the Reign, placed with the Barons, only to have fantastic seasons.

Lamoureux, a former teammate of Stretch in Ontario and also of Chris VandeVelde at North Dakoto, is a goal scorer. His first full pro season saw him earn 25 goals, and 40 assists in 71 games. His +/- was at +30, and thus this guy is worth the shot.

Side note. His sisters, twins Monique and Jocelyne, played for Team USA in the 2010 Olympics where they won silver. Skill clearly runs in the family.

Great interview with Lamoureux & the “Miller Time” show. Great stuff:

Welcome to Oklahoma City, Mario! Follow him on twitter @MarioLamoureux9

About Those Four Linus Omark Goals…

Photo by Steven Christy

Buried in a busy week of call-ups, injury news, and other hockey related tomfoolery was a four goal night by Linus Omark against the San Antonio Rampage. The Oklahoma City Barons would go on to win, 5-4 (Matt Ford scoring the additional one), but it wasn’t before Sir Linus had a wild and woolly four game night. He was due a good night, and a good night was had. The Rampage had no answer for him, and continued to play softball defense allowing him too much time with the puck. They quickly adjusted the next night, and successfully hogtied his offensive awesomeness.

In this particular game it was an early gaff that really spurned Omark to greatness. After a clearing attempt gone awry by Omark, the Rampage’s Bobby Butler scored an easy first goal of the game. The moment did not sit well with Linus, and he buried himself in a fantastic remainder of the game. Well done.

To the goals, in gif form.

You are going to see a trend developing in these gifs, and it involves the Rampage defense giving the Swede way too much room. As the puck moves up the ice no one challenges any of the three players who touch the puck including the trailer, Omark. Too easy.

This is probably the easiest power play goal Omark will ever score. The first goal was had streaking up the left wing, and this one on the right. The kid is gifted on both sides, and that makes him continually deadly. However, with that much room and time, I could have scored a power play goal here with a soup ladle. Nonetheless, goal number two (on the PP) was nice.

I apologize for not showing the take down that led to the free gift of a penalty shot, but it was a pretty garden variety penalty shot creator. When you have already given up two goals to a guy like Linus, you are probably in big trouble when it comes to one-on-one skills comp. The head/shoulder/wrist fake that Omark lays on the camera man is pretty sweet, but it doesn’t appear to have rattled Dov Grumet-Morris. But the shot is still excellent, beating the tender on the lower stick side. The puck barely comes off the ice, but it’s a thick wrister. Love.

A great pass during a really ugly penalty kill by San Antonio allows Omark to stand at the face-off dot, fully wound, and ready to fire. This, the fourth and final goal, was deadly accurate. That is an NHL-like goal if I’ve ever seen one, and this is what the Oilers need to see more often.

In all, it was another memorable night by Omark. Call it a breakout game if you would like, but it is certainly a showpiece for the Swedish goal scorer as he marches towards playing NHL hockey again. Through consistent performances like these, and not necessarily four goal nights, Omark will be heard loudly. Statements are what the Oilers are looking for. This is a statement.

(All gif’s courtesy of AHL Live. Capped by Neal!)

On Richard Bachman (As An Oiler)

Photo by Steven Christy

Richard Bachman, after playing the second most minutes and facing the second most shots for goaltenders in the AHL, was called up to the Edmonton Oilers this week to assist the ailing Devan Dubnyk, and perhaps entice more potency from the goaltending duo in the NHL. He played exceptionally well, made 47 saves, gave up one regulation goal, but ultimately ended the night in defeat at the hands of the LA Kings, 2-3 in a shootout. But it was a victory for Richard Bachman nonetheless. Dejavu, all over again.

Bachman has carried a 3-4-1 record with the Oklahoma City Barons since the beginning of the AHL season in early October. He has indeed played high minutes and faced many many shots, but that record – woof. What you saw transpire in LA on Sunday night was exactly how things have occured in the AHL this season.

Richard Bachman plays a very good, cool-as-a-cucumber style where very little gets over his head, and very little goes around his edges. Quite frankly, he looks like the player that dominated the Barons for several seasons when he was a member of the Texas Stars. But here’s the deal, Bachman needs help.

Taking nearly 50 shots in an NHL is insane. Not because the number is so high, but because a defense allowed that many shots to make it through the lanes. Inexcusable.

This isn’t the first time (and probably not the last) Bachman has faced a high shot total in the last two weeks. Here’s the game-by-game shot totals he has faced while a member of the Oklahoma City Barons (for comparison, OKC shot totals in parentheses)

Start #1 – 32 (34)
Start #2 – 26 (24)
Start #3 – 29 (27)
Start #4 – 23 (36)
*Start #5 – 44 (28)
Start #6 – 30 (30)
Start #7 – 39 (26)

*Barons actually won this game by a goal

Mid to low 20’s is probably the norm, and you can see that number has been tallied twice. The defense in front of the Barons number one goaltender is good, but prone to bad play. The team has 10 games under their belt, are under .500, 3rd in the West Division, 9th in the Western Conference. If the Barons want to have success, it will rely heavily on the defense stepping up, and the offense finding its rhythm.

Anton Lander And Richard Bachman Called Up To Edmonton; Tyler Bunz Headed To OKC

Photo by Steven Christy

Announced today…well a whole bunch of call-ups. Oklahoma City Barons goaltender, Richard Bachman has been recalled to Edmonton alongside OKC’s top center, Anton Lander. In a minor league transaction, Tyler Bunz has been added to the Barons roster from the Bakersfield Condors good graces.

Let’s start with Bachman. His goals against average is dangerously close to 3 with 2.70 which is about 30th in the AHL. That’s not sensational, but good. His save percentage is .925 which, again, isn’t wildly fantastic, but good. His 3-4-1 record isn’t bad early on considering how poor the Barons have looked at times. The biggest issue is that he is playing the most minutes by any goaltender in the entire Western Conference of the AHL. He’s also stopped the most shots. His worth is found in how great he has been when the team has been so bad. Playing in front of a young, sometimes disorganized defense, he has been the MVP through the first moth of the season in spite of what the numbers might tell you. Anxious to see him back in the NHL, cautiously optimistic about how he plays. He gets the start tonight.

Anton Lander, the Barons top centerman, joins the Oiler to help fill in the gaps for those injured in Edmonton including recent Barons linemate, Tyler Pitlick. The wounded in the NHL are as follows – Hamilton, Pitlick, Joensuu, Hall, Gagner, MacIntyre, and Smyth. There just aren’t enough warm bodies to ice a healthy lineup, and thus Lander gets the call. The timing is interesting as the Barons recently named Lander the captain in OKC. His numbers aren’t bad this season, but he is the logical call-up when in a pinch. Per Jack Michaels, he’ll play on the wing with Boyd Gordon at center, and Ryan Jones on the other side. Interesting.

That brings us to Tyler Bunz, and his recall from Bakersfield. Olivier Roy will go number one until Bachman returns, and Bunz will back him up. This is the tandem that we were afraid we might see (from an OKC perspective) given how up and down they sometimes can be. However, this might be a good opportunity to see just how far they’ve come as they will no doubt get at least one start a piece. Maybe. With the Oilers playing tonight, and Bachman starting, there is a real chance that Richard comes back to OKC before the Barons play another game (next game is November 1 in OKC).

In another minor event, Corey Potter has finished his conditioning stint with OKC, and will head to Edmonton.

Good luck to all involved!

Linus Omark Scores Four Goals, Barons Hang On To Beat San Antonio

There are rules that exist when it comes to discussing Linus Omark in post game recaps. First, explaining how he scores a goal must include words like dazzle and amazing and unbelievable. This is done because his play demands it, and the reader craves it. Second, when he does amazing things, you don’t lump his incredible night into a three hundred word essay where recaps reside, but rather give him his own slice of cherry pie in the form of a separate blog post. This is done because there are very few players in the AHL of the Omarkian caliber, and to not give him his own time would be disrespectful.

Or something like that.

To put it lightly, Omark had a good night in San Antonio. To be honest, it was truly remarkable. To be a fanboy, it was, as Gwen Stefani always says, B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

Scoring four goals, two on the power play, one at even strength, and another as a penalty shot, he’d help put the Barons on top of the Rampage with a final score of 5-4.

More to come on the amazing night by Omark, but first, let’s crack open the stats page.

It was San Antonio that would score in the opening minutes of the game to kick off a pretty memorable night. Following a rare mistake by Omark, Bobby Butler would make good on the Barons inability to clear the puck, as he’d jive in front of Richard Bachman to put the Rampage up 1-0 early. Then things got interesting.

After a long spell in the Barons defensive zone, Matthew Ford would cling to the puck through the neutral zone down center ice, and effortlessly dish the puck off to Anton Lander, who’d leave it for Linus Omark coming down the left wing. With a ton of real estate between Omark and the defender, Linus would wrist a shot around Rampage goalie, Dov Grumet-Morris. A 1-1 tie was now upon us.

Linus would score his second of the period, this time from the right left side of the goaltender, and on the power play, towards the back half of period one, and the Barons would take a 2-1 lead. Two brutal defensive sequences for the Rampage would gift Omark the early game momentum, and cost them the lead along the way.

On a broken play down the center of the ice, Vincent Trocheck would earn his third goal of the year, and the equalizer in the opening six minutes of the second period. Ten plus minutes of back and forth play tested each goaltender, and an eventual slash by the Rampage gave Oklahoma City a power play. Matt Ford, scoring his second goal as a Baron as well as his second goal in one week, put the Barons back up 3-2.

Linus Omark would score the next two goals of the game with the firs being the result of a penalty shot, and one heckuva a move to beat Grumet-Morris. In the the third period he would get his fourth of the night, and his second on the power play with assists from Larsen and Nesbitt. With Oklahoma City up 5-3, the Rampage rounded out the evening with a full throttle final ten minutes, notching a pair of goals including one on the power play after a stupid Austin Fyten slash. Richard Bachman, and the rest of the Barons defense, buckled down, made stops, created spatial static, and would hang on to defeat the San Antonio Rampage 5-4. It took nearly 40 shots by OKC, and a dandy of an offensive performance by Omark to get it done, but a win is a win.

Oklahoma City Appears “Unorganized” In 4-1 Loss To Texas Stars

Photo by Steven Christy

The Oklahoma City Barons were bound to be frustrated by the suddenly surging Texas Stars. The team from Cedar Park is fresh off consecutive blowouts of opponents that shouldn’t have been blown out. The Stars offensive prowess is just firing on all cylinders. And as the Barons traveled to Texas for a Wednesday evening game, the goal scoring muscle continued to be flexed by the home team.

Three straight goals by Texas, while the Barons looked completely unorganized, earned the Stars a bit of bragging rights. Colton Sceviour scored a pair, sandwiched around the first of the season by Brett Ritchie.

It’s not entirely Oklahoma City’s fault that the Stars abused every shooting lane, hammered the boards, and won the goaltending battle. The offensive lines were out of wack. Only owning eleven forwards, the Barons were forced to trot out Philip Larsen as a healthy winger. Raised in the Stars system, and traded this off season, Larsen has the wheels and handles to be a forward, but his typical persuasion is defense, and tonight you saw why.

Nonetheless, the Barons were frustrated from the first period on, and although Matt Ford scored his first goal as a Baron mid-way through the third, the damage had already been done.

Although the Barons had three utterly useless power play chances, they also killed off three straight penalties to prevent any Texas goals with an extra skater. They may have won that tiny battle, but Texas took the war.

The frustration boiled over as Linus Omark gave Texas tender, Jack Campbell, a good old fashioned ice shower long after the whistle had blown, earning himself an unsportsmanlike penalty all while nailing the coffin shut on a lackluster performance.

The Stars would defeat the Barons, 4-1 in Cedar Park.

Next up, Oklahoma City travels to San Antonio to face the familiar Rampage on Friday and Saturday.

Workin’ For The Weekend (Wednesday Edition): Oklahoma City Barons at Texas Stars “Appetite”

Prefab Sprout is likely a band you have never heard of on this side of the Great Pond. For every successful British pop-rock-synth-pop outfit that the 80’s churned out, there were twenty that were equally as forgettable. One of those bands was Prefab Sprout.

Hailing from County Durham, England, the duo (with additional members sprinkled in throughout the bands existence, Prefab Sprout was, by definition, sophisticated pop. Which really meant that it was borderline elevator music for the popped collar crowd. There was a time, and a place, and a moment for that music, and despite the bands unsuccessful attempt to crack the US charts with regularity, they were marginally successful in England.

Twelve albums spanning the years of 1984 to 2013, the Sprout hit their musical stride in the mid-80’s with a string of albums that cracked the UK top twenty. Swoon, Steve McQueen, From Langley Park, and Protest Songs weren’t ground-breaking pieces of art, but rather unsubstantial and vanilla. Some might consider it “throw away music”, but the reality is that Hall & Oates made huge careers out of vanilla, they just happened to be better songwriters.

Take “appetite” for example. Recorded for the Steve McQueen album (later changed to Two Wheels Good when Steve McQueen’s estate through a fit over naming rights), it is a simple projection of a father’s life upon that of his son. To encourage a hunger for life, pursuit of love, goodness, and hard work. The appetite is not satisfied with complacency, but through a determined spirit. These words wrapped up in a synth slow dance are about as entertaining as a trip to the dentist, but like the dentist, some things are good for you. It might be sophisticated pop, but it is kinda boring. Boring in an occasionally good way.

Our Barons aren’t boring, just safe. They aren’t offensively stout (although the power play has been momentarily nice). Instead, they are a mixed bag of prospects on both sides of the puck, relying on their goaltender far too much. Like our good friends, Prefab Sprout, you can embrace their complacent tendencies, but sometimes mediocre is enough in small doses. It won’t win you championships or many games, but it can be enough.

Wednesday. Mediocre won’t be enough.

The Oklahoma City Barons are meeting the Texas Stars for the second time in the early moments of the AHL season. Yet, here’s the deal, the Texas Stars are streaking, and that’s going to be a tough hill to climb for the Oklahoma City Barons who are sorta gimpy, and a bit thin offensively.

For OKC the thinning has occurred as a result of call-ups (Ben Eager, Tyler Pitlick), and injury (Ryan Martindale). They’ve lost a top liner, a bottom liner, and a gifted (at least in the minors) centerman. That’s a recipe for disaster. This is nothing new for OKC, they have faced adversity before, but this feels very different. The team identity is still not fully realized, and that has to do with the changing of the guard in Edmonton, something we have been discussing for months here at Tend The Farm.

So the team heads to Cedar Park, Texas to face the suddenly-potent Texas Stars before double dipping the Rampage in San Antonio on the weekend.

Since the October 15th meeting between Texas and Oklahoma City where Linus Omark scored a dazzler in OT, the Stars have won three straight games. They beat San Antonio by two goals, and their next two opponents by six each. They outscored their opponents in two straight games a whopping 15 to 3. Unreal.

When you get incredibly lopsided victories like those, you’re bound to find some players in the top 20 in league scoring. How about two in the top five? Travis Morin is second in the league in scoring with seven goals, while Colton Sceviour isn’t far behind with five. Morin has also added eight assists to his early season resume thus placing him with fifteen points in just six games. Wow.

In net, the Stars get back Jack Campbell, who made his first NHL appearance over the weekend in a loss against the Ducks. They still have Cristopher Nilstorp, and waiting in the wings, is rookie Josh Robinson. Regardless of whom plays, the Barons will really have to pepper the goaltender to be successful. Double digit shots per period would be a must.

The Barons will have to go without Tyler Pitlick, Ben Eager, and Ryan Martindale. They’ve gotten a bit of a kick back from Joel Broda, who’s been surprisingly well in the upper lines of offense. Likewise, Andrew Miller, Anton Lander, and Linus Omark will have to seperate themselves as the scoring threats we need them to be. As the lines get a bit of a jumble, don’t be surprised if C.J. Stretch gets a bit of an upgrade as he moves to a more offensively heavy placement in the lineup. That’s a good thing. Stretch likes speed, and he has been somewhat handcuffed to a third line role that has been good, not great.

Richard Bachman, again playing his former AHL team, has been magnificent, and is probably the lone reason why the Barons are at .500 right now. He’s a good goaltender. The defense is going to have to lend him a hand if they want to take a step forward in the standings. There is no doubt about this.

Two very good special teams will face off tonight, with the Stars being really good of late, and the Barons struggling with a man advantage. The season is young, but the special unit numbers are interesting.

Texas has a 92.6 penalty kill rate, while the Barons aren’t too far behind with 92.0. Both teams are in the top three in that specific category in the entire league.

Texas has a 30.0 rate of success on the power play, while the Barons have dipped of late to 22.6.

The recipe for success for OKC will be to stop the vicious Stars power play while also aiding Bachman defensively at 5 on 5. The other issue is goal scoring. As stated before, someone needs to step up and score some goals. Look for Linus Omark to have a whale of a game.

The game starts at 7:30pm tonight, and will be broadcast on KXXY 96.1 locally. For a look from the other side of the fence, read 100 Degree Hockey, a Texas Stars blog. Great stuff.

*For more enticing Prefab Sprout music, check out the tracks “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, “Looking For Atlantis”, and “Cars And Girls”. You won’t be disappointed.

That’s Captain Lander, Thank You Very Much

Photo by Steven Christy

Todd Nelson, and the rest of the Oklahoma City Barons, announced today that Anton Lander has been named the team captain for the 2013-2014 season. My own take on team captaincy excluded, this is a great honor for young Anton. Having played heavy minutes both in OKC and in Edmonton, he’s a nice bridge in the gap between minor and major league play.

The centerman, currently playing on a top line with Linus Omark where he’s just under a point per game, has seen his share of NHL time in 67 games with the Oilers. He’s young, only in his third full year of pro play, and that’s a good thing. Whom better to lead a team than a guy who closely resembles his youthful peers.

Alternates will be Derek Nesbitt, Ben Eager, Taylor Fedun, and Matthew Ford.

Interestingly enough, Fedun and Eager have landed in Edmonton, at least for a quick spell, and there’s a chance that Lander could see minutes in the NHL in the not-so-far-away future. Imagine if all three land there at one time, a scenario that could play out when the Oilers enter their typical ouch-ridden Novembers. (Hall out four weeks, Smyth out a week with groin, injuries already accumulating).

Congrats to Anton!