Oklahoma City Blasts Lake Erie In 6-1 “Angry” Affair

Six goals with four of those coming in the third period, the Oklahoma City Barons would blast the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland on Thursday night in an angry affair. Some extra curricular activity after the first period led to a heavy handed, but impressive victory by OKC. Defeating the Monsters, on home ice, in November, 6-1 is quite the impressive victory.

Laurent Broissoit would earn his first victory as a Baron in his first star for the team stopping 36 of 37 shots including an 18 shot first period.

Also new to the lineup was the not-so-new face of Curtis Hamilton. Following ACL surgery nearly a year ago, Hamilton would make his return to the Barons roster. On the left wing with Roman Horak in the center, and Derek Nesbitt on the right, Hamilton would prove to be a bit sluggish. However, it’s good to see him back.

Travis Ewanyk scored his first two goals of the season in the testy affair. Anton Lander added two more. But it was Taylor Fedun, having a four point night, that really proved to be highly valuable. His value was found mainly as the quarterback of the Barons power play that went 3 for 8 on the night. His movement with the puck seemingly put the Monsters on their heels, and he would eventually tally two assists on the games first two power play goals by OKC.

Ryan Hamilton would get the games final goal for the Barons, but that wasn’t until after some major rough stuff occurred. As the second period started to boil with fervor, the stakes became increasingly higher as the Monsters were visibly frustrated on their own power play. Only scoring once in eight tries, the team didn’t have much more luck at even strength. All this frustration boiled over into the third period where things would get nasty.

The 7:46 minute was interesting:

3 – OKC Eager, 7:46 – Fighting, 5 min
3 – OKC Lizon, 7:46 – Roughing, 2 min
3 – OKC Lizon, 7:46 – Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct, (75.4) 10 min
3 – LE Maggio, 7:46 – Roughing, 2 min
3 – LE Maggio, 7:46 – Roughing, 2 min (PP)
3 – LE Maggio, 7:46 – Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct, (75.4) 10 min
3 – LE Tam, 7:46 – Fighting, 5 min

 

As was the 13:28:

3 – OKC Musil, 13:28 – Boarding, 2 min
3 – OKC Musil, 13:28 – Fighting, 5 min
3 – LE Heard, 13:28 – Instigating, 2 min
3 – LE Heard, 13:28 – Fighting, 5 min
3 – LE Heard, 13:28 – Misconduct – Instigating, (46.11) 10 min

 

And so too was the 19:50:

3 – OKC Eager, 19:50 – Roughing, 2 min
3 – OKC Eager, 19:50 – Roughing, 2 min
3 – OKC Eager, 19:50 – Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct, (75.4) 10 min
3 – LE Desbiens, 19:50 – Misconduct – Unsportsmanlike conduct, (75.4) 10 min
3 – LE Olver, 19:50 – Boarding, 2 min
3 – LE Tam, 19:50 – Unsportsmanlike conduct, 2 min

 

Ben Eager would end the night with 19 penalty minutes, Erick Lizon with 12. However it was David Musil that would take the most punishment in the form of an orbital fracture that would immediately send him back to OKC for evaluation that night.

Despite the 6-1 drubbing that the Barons laid on the Monsters, the reminder that these two would face off again in 24 hours lingered in our minds. Would we see more of the same – both offensively, and maybe in the fisticuffs department – maybe. Lake Erie was completely frustrated, and “Eager” to goad anyone willing to fight into such activities.

In all, it was a good road win for OKC, and like most good road wins it wasn’t void of any injuries. Here’s to hoping that the next night isn’t quite as persnickety.

San Antonio Destroys Oklahoma City, 6-1

Playing their second school day game in a week, as well as their second in a week against the San Antonio Rampage, the Oklahoma City Barons would give up three goals in the first, two goals in the second, and one goal in the third en route to a completely lopsided affair. Five unanswered goals by the Rampage led to 6-1 final.

The goaltending battle was one to watch. Tyler Bunz, needing to remain solid with Jason LaBarbera heading to OKC soon, would start but not finish for the Barons. For the Rampage, it was Jacob Markstrom who has NHL experience, but sometimes can be tamed by the meekest of AHL squads.

Here are the lines/pairs for the Oklahoma City Barons:

R. Hamilton-Lander-Omark
Nesbitt-Horak-Ford
Fyten-Stretch-Miller
Eager-Ewanyk-Kessy

Marincin-Fedun
Grebeshkov-Hunt
Gernat-Klefbom

Joey Crabb would score his third of the season for the Rampage on a pretty ugly defensive series for prospect Martin Marincin. With the Rampage on the board first, and in the first four minutes to boot, Tyler Bunz and the defense would need to step it up about five notches. Nearing the halfway point of the first period, Lander would hit Linus Omark on the right wing inches from the goal crease, and somehow he whiffs on a gift wrapped scoring attempt. Sir Linus made things slightly better by drawing a penalty to put the Barons on their first power play opportunity of the season. A minute into the 2:00 power play, the Rampage would be whistled for a cross check, and a :53 5 on 3 was forthcoming. A near giveaway by Omark, a broken stick slapshot by Fedun, and the 5 on 3 was completely wasted. Off a faceoff in the Barons zone, Jed Ortemeyer would rifle a shot around Tyler Bunz, and the Rampage would go up 2-0. A high stick by Taylor Fedun gave the Rampage their first power play attempt of the game while nursing a 2-0 lead. In the final 2 minutes of play Kale Kessy would be hit with a hooking penalty, and Ben Eager would follow it up with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The 5 on 3 for the Rampage earned Trocheck a goal, and San Antonio a 3-0 lead with a few minutes remaining in the first period.

Taylor Fedun had an awful first period including a bad defensive stance on the first goal, and the penalty taken immediately following the second goal. But it was the entire defensive stance of the Barons that led to a complete sixty minute undressing.

In the second period, the damage continued as the Rampage scored another pair of even strength goals. Although a later period goal by Martin Marincin was a welcome sight, there was just way too much hurt already being delved out. The frustration boiled over as Omark would be whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, the second by the Barons, and the power play troubles continued. The Rampage, being the most penalized team in the AHL, would give OKC a whopping eight chances with an extra skater, and they never scored. The second twenty also saw a goaltending change. After stopping 22 of 26, Tyler Bunz would be relieved by newcomer Laurent Brossoit. He would let in another two on only 12 shots, and the goaltending troubles continued.

The third period featured 14 shots by the Oilers, but a lot of good goaltending from Jacob Markstrom. In the end, the Barons would suffer a brutal defeat at the hands of a division rival. Now under .500, the Barons have a long trek from now until Christmas with tons of time on the road. The struggles of Tyler Bunz are every bit a product of the defense in front of him, but he obviously needs to be better. Jason LaBarbera heading to OKC might level the playing field just a bit, and the Barons can begin to make strides towards getting better.

Two players on this squad are a positive in the +/- category. Austin Fyten (+3) and Brad Hunt (+1). Hunt, in particular, has seen his TOI go up dramatically in the last week or two. On the other end of the spectrum is Brandon Davidson (who was scratched today) and Oscar Klefbom (who seems to be floundering a bit).

Time to get better.

Denis Grebeshkov With A “Great” Centering Pass (To The Wrong Team)

We all make mistakes, and professional hockey players aren’t excluded from awful situations themselves. Denis Grebeshkov, normally pretty sturdy and one of the best Barons defenders, made a pertty brutal centering pass to the wrong team. Still love that guy, and apparently so does Tyler Bunz who totally bails him out. TEAMWORK!

Workin’ For The Weekend: Oklahoma City Barons at San Antonio Rampage “Here I Go Again”

David Coverdale could wail. As an alumnus of Deep Purple version 2.0, he had the rock/blues chops to pull of 80’s glam better than most, and almost by accident he had the résumé to fill that role. Auditioning, and eventually earning the right to play the front man for Deep Purple in the early to mid-70’s, Coverdale transformed the hard rock legends into more mainstream mush. But it wasn’t all his fault. Blackmore was fading, Gillian was irreplaceable – it was really just a moment in time where change happened, and the band Deep Purple ceased to exist. Yet David carried on.

Emerging as the frontman for Whitesnake alongside vets of the industry, David Coverdale quickly moved away from the Puple hard rocking roots, and sought greener pastures and commercial success in mainstream rock. He played the part well – smokey voice, long hair, love of tight clothing and chest exposing – he was born to be a hair band man.

At the peak of their success a little song titled “Here I Go Again” propelled the act to superstardom, and etched their name in the pantheon of glitzy hair bands of the 80’s. The song would be an international hit, and for all its schmaltzy goo, it’s actually a pretty great couple of minutes.

A torch song wrapped in a glamorous rock package, it is truly a masterpiece of excessive guitar chunk, thick bass, and vocal tenacity. Coverdale had never been better, and his voice creates the mood as the half notes tick on.

The most convincing feat is how serious White Snake handles the song. Bands like Dio and Quiet Riot, of similar ilk, almost obnoxiously ran amuck through their glamorized interpretations of songs. Coverdale and White Snake came by it naturally as gifted musicians, songwriters, and performers. That’s why “Here I Go Again” is one of the greatest tracks of the 80’s – it’s honest.

Lyrically the songwriter is discussing loneliness from the top of the trash heap. And regardless of how alone he might be, he’s made up his mind, he ain’t wastin’ no more time. Because here he goes again.

Here we go again indeed. A week ago the Barons defeated the Rampage in a highly entertaining Tuesday morning school day game. Tyler Bunz had a solid victory, and the Barons wielded some mighty crafty offense. Here we are. Another Tuesday, another school day game, another meeting with the San Antonio Rampage.

But a lot has happened in one week, and that’s the life in the minors.

The Bryzgalov era ended in Oklahoma as quickly as it began. He went 50/50, but clearly imitates goaltenders of a much higher caliber than those in the AHL. Although his spot in Edmonton is gift wrapped, and ready to go, it’s yet to be seen if he can cure what ails the Oilers. The answer is he can’t, and thus it feels a bit like shining a cow patty.

Jason LaBarbera likely becomes a Baron, a defender is likely to be recalled to Edmonton, Lander is healthy, Horak is emerging, and maybe, just maybe, Curtis Hamilton goes back into the lineup after a huge stretch of recovery after ACL surgery.
The game will be good although early, and the Barons will play a torrid schedule from now to the New Year (mostly on the road), and so winning games now is really important. Dare I say streak?

Alex Lavoie Released From PTO. LaBarbera On Waivers. Defender Edmonton Bound?

Photo by Steven Christy

Two organizational transactions emerged before lunchtime today. One for the Barons. One for the Oilers. Both effecting each club greatly.

Brought in briefly from the Allen Americans of the CHL, centerman Alex Lavoie has officially been released from his PTO by Oklahoma City. Playing in only one game, and playing surprisingly well, Lavoie is a guy that the Barons (and fans) liked in training camp. The small, but sturdy 21 year old, has only suited up fourteen professional games since leaving the QMJHL only a season ago. Thirteen of those games have been with the Central League Americans where he has potted five goals and eleven assists in only sixteen games. In protected minutes on Saturday, Lavoie sparkled occasionally, but that’s likely because he was centering the better-than-expected Matt Ford and AHL vet Ryan Hamilton. Mistakes were few, and his game was sturdy.

His release means that Anton Lander’s ankle injury was indeed only a “cut and scrape” situation. He will be back, and that’s good.

The Oilers announced today that Jason LaBarbera was placed on waivers. With the back up of goaltenders in the Oilers pipeline, the best possible outcome for the Oilers would be for Jason to be picked up, which isn’t entirely out of the scope of our imagination. Predators? Kings? Might LaBarbera be a good fit in those places. Absolutely he would.

If (and that’s a big if) the Oilers lose LaBarbera the goaltending crunch isn’t quite as horrific. Bunz will remain number one in Oklahoma City until Richard Bachman is healthy enough to be placed on the farm. In the meantime, the Barons could call on the services of Laurent Broissoit if the Oilers fancy his game. Yet there are other options in Ty Rimmer and Chet Pickard. Lots of prospects means lots of interesting options. We. Will. See.

In other news:

The farm options are pretty familiar – Fedun, Marincin, Grebeshkov – all capable in a callup situation except for Marincin who has yet to skate in an NHL game in his career. The darkhorse might be Oscar Klefbom who you’ll recall was, er, um recalled to Edmonton “just in case” only days ago. Regardless, a defender moving out of Oklahoma City means that Gernat and Musil both get to start, and certainly gain more experience. That’s a good thing for them, but also an anxious thought knowing that a giant Barons road swing is forthcoming.

Moves are good, but more than that it is always interesting to see how each move effects the net outcome of games. Let the chess match begin.

Welcome To The Depth Chart, Roman Horak

Photo by Steven Christy

This weekend Anton Lander was a bit gimpy. The top centerman on the farm was bothered by an ankle situation from Friday evening’s game. Word is that he is fine, but wanted to take it a bit easy on Saturday. He was a healthy scratch. This paved the way for some serious 20:00+ minutes for recently acquired centerman, Roman Horak.

Horak has always been an interesting prospect while with the Calgary Flames, but probably like Lander, his organization had seen enough to get a good sense of what he had to offer. They threw him into the mix w/ the Smid trade, and the Barons are now tending to his prospect status.

Here is the deal with Horak. He is a centerman with scoring ability, and winsome in the face off dot, at least in the two games we watched him play against his former team in Oklahoma City. On Saturday evening he was the forward with the most ice time, the centerman that took the most face offs, and was a mainstay on the power play. For the full weekend’s duration he netted 3 assists to add to his 1 goal from Tuesday mornings game. That’s a four point start in just three games, but it is the small things that add up for Horak, at least in a small sample size.

Two games, and a face off win percentage well over 50% (more around 68%), and that’s exactly what you want a centerman to do. I don’t track the specifics of where/how/when those faceoffs are taken, but if memory serves me correctly, he spent equal time at both ends in the dot. I really like the win percentage, but I also really like what he brings in the two-way game.

Defensively stout, offensively capable, he isn’t a liability at 5on5 or 5on4 or even at 4on5, he’s an intelligent player through the middle. Like Lander, he has NHL experience, a full 82 games of it. 5 goals and 13 assists is the total. That’s not too shabby, but not mind-blowing numbers you would expect. However, as far as depth is concerned having both Lander (who’s at 68 games played in the NHL; 2-5-7) and Horak is a thing that the Oilers haven’t had in a while. Could Will Acton be knocked down a peg on the Oilers line for a guy like Horak? Yes, and probably.

It will be interesting to watch Roman play in the next couple of games. Primarily in the 5 game road swing that begins Tuesday, and concludes just 10 days later. Trips to San Antonio, Lake Erie, and Texas will give us a good looksee at this prospect, and certainly the team as a whole.

Welcome to the depth chart, Roman Horak.

Oklahoma City Splits Weekend Pair With Abbotsford; Bryz Good, Ice Time Interesting

Photo by Rob Ferguson

The Oklahoma City Barons hosted the league-leading Abbotsford Heat for a pair of games held at the Cox Center this weekend. Both games were highly entertaining, and both netted vastly different results. With Ilya Bryzgalov making back to back conditioning stint starts, the two days were loaded with anticipation.

In game one, the Barons were humming along, forechecking the life out of Abbotsford early. Andrew Miller looked wildly improved as he would spend at least two shifts completely in the Heat zone with some intelligent skating. But it was the second period, filled with inglorious penalties, that undid the Barons then 3-1 lead. Abbotsford would go on to defeat OKC, 5-4. Ben Street won the hat trick for Abbtosford, four different Barons scored, and Bryzgalov saw his first loss in pro play this year (in his first start).

Game two was all Oklahoma City, and proved a bit sharper for Bryzgalov. Two second period goals by the Barons, and a magnificent penalty kill that went 100%, earned the Barons a really hard fought victory. C.J. Stretch would have a whale of a weekend scoring a goal on Friday, and two consecutive ones on Saturday. With assists from Austin Fyten and Andrew Miller, that line would produce huge minutes for OKC. Add a Linus Omark power play goal, and a Ben Eager empty netter, and you’ve got a 4-1 Barons victory that snapped a nine game win streak by the Heat. Bryzgalov would stop 25 of 26 shots.

The weekend went to The Bryz, and the weight of his expectations. The five goal tally on Friday was just as much a product of pour goalmouth defense than it was Ilya himself. Denis Grebeshkov, in particular, struggled to stop Heat defenders from hanging around the goaltenders doorstep. Likewise, Taylor Fedun had some really bad moments. All those thoughts were washed over as the team resurrected really good blue line play on Saturday.

Mechanically, Bryzgalov was sound on Friday, yet Saturday he was a confident beast. Strategic, agile, smart, even offensively helpful, he was a really good goaltender against a really good team. However, facing well under 30 shots is uncommon even in the minors. I’m curious to see if he gets at least one more game under his belt before the Oilers move him. Dubnyk, having a momentary good moment seems to have given the squad the ability to roll the Bryzgalov Experiment out a bit later if need be. With a Tuesday morning game in San Antonio on the horizon for OKC, one more game might be worth the trouble. Then the tending placement/scramble begins.

C.J. Stretch, scoring three goals in two games, finally comes to life after going goalless to start the season. He looked really sharp, especially when paired with Miller and Fyten. The unafraid-to-crash threesome might be on to something as Todd Nelson blurs the lines between prospect and AHL-only offense. The lines might be starting to gel.

The injury report is short, sweet, but important. Anton Lander left the Cox Center on crutches Friday evening only to be in on-ice warmups on Saturday. Labeled a game time decision, he would eventually be scratched, but it’s not long term. David Musil took a puck around the knee area on Saturday in the first period, did not return. No update as of now.

The obvious thing in terms of TOI is that Marincin, Grebs, Fedun are your consistent defenders. The other obvious is that Ben Eager plays very little considering his placement organizationally (which you would assumed is higher than others). Nonetheless, the big jump in the game-to-game numbers is newcomer Roman Horak. It became quickly apparent that he could play heavy center minutes, produce offensive chances, but most importantly win faceoffs. He and Stretch did the heavy lifting in the faceoff dot this weekend, and that’s a bit interesting. Lander being absent from game two dips his numbers, but the Horak/Stretch trend is worth watching. Might Horak jump Lander in the depth chart? I think he might.

Alex Lavoie of the CHL Allen Americans played protected, but quality minutes in a pinch. A kid (22) that showed well in minor league camp, and is on a 1.33 PPG in Allen might be one to keep on the radar. GM Bill Scott champions the “deep find”, and we have probably not seen the last of Lavoie.

Eager-Ewanyk-Kessy is a fourth line that creates chances unlike the one we see in the Barons parent club. Ewanyk is a typical fourth line center, but with enough of a smart edge to be super helpful, at least in the minors. Eager’s ice time has dipped just a bit, with Kessy earning more. I never thought that would happen, but it did.

Gernat and Musil are swappable at this point with each playing the lowest defensive minutes on the club. They are indeed getting better, but their progress is at a snails pace right now.

The Barons head south to play San Antonio for a Tuesday “School Day Game” after playing a version of the same game a week earlier in OKC. Goaltending moves will be interesting this week. Grab something buried deep.

Oscar Klefbom Recalled To Oilers; Mark Arcobello Assigned To Barons

Spotted at Wiill Rogers Airport this morning, Oscar Klefbom has packed his bags for Edmonton where he will join the team in Calgary tomorrow. In the same breathe, Mark Arcobello will be boarding a plan for Oklahoma City in the biggest head scratcher of the day. The Oilers made both official this afternoon in anticipation of games played by Oklahoma City and Edmonton.

Let’s start with Klefbom.

The expectations are high for the Swedish defender, and in his first season of pro hockey he has been about as prospecty as you would expect him to be. Not overly dominate, and mostly paired with another defensive prospect in Martin Marinicin, Oscar has been the poster child for the defensive woes of OKC since early October. He’s inconsistent. That’s to be expected, and perhaps that is why the decision to reassign him to the Oilers seems bizarre.

Recently scratched (November 2nd) in a lopsided blowout by the Chicago Wolves, Klefbom was on the ice for four even strength goals. His brutal performance led to him being a healthy scratch the following game. Nelson saw the same deficiencies that we saw, and promptly sat him. But remember, this guy is still learning the N. American game. He’s a work in progress.

Good buddy, Eric Rogers, mentioned that perhaps this is a showcase moment for Klefbom, and that a trade is forthcoming that includes the big defender. If so, it will be interesting what else is attached to the bargain. He is still so ripe on the vine that you have to think he might not catch much value, and that perhaps his prospect value is still worth more within your own organization. I think he is worth keeping.

On Arcobello.

Short of being thrown to the waivers by around 30 games, former Baron Mark Arcobello, has been one of the brightest spots for the Oilers in an otherwise dreadful season thus far. Two goals and ten assists in 20 games, he has been on a pretty great pace despite those around him. He, at times, has been their only offense creator. The Oilers are clearly moving bodies to bring in Klefbom, but why this body? Acton and Gazdic are apparently too valuable to place on waivers (although Acton isn’t waiver eligible, I believe), and so they will stay. That fact alone is about as insane as they come especially when the team is anorexic on the offensive side.

Both players will not be available to their teams until tomorrow, but here’s hoping that something really good is on the horizon. This doesn’t feel really good.

Prodigal’s New Soccer Team, And What That May Mean For The OKC Barons

The story we’ve been covering over the past few weeks regarding the possible name and logo of Prodigal’s new USL PRO soccer team has finally reached the point of being official as Prodigal announced the team as being named OKC Energy FC. After looking at the new team’s website, seeing the work that has been put into the shiny new franchise, my fears grew bigger that this may spell the end of Oklahoma City hockey as we know it.

When the soccer team was first announced back in July, my fears were small that Prodigal would treat the Oklahoma City Barons as a “red-headed step-child” as the soccer team was going to be an individual venture by the management group. While it’s understandable that someone would want to put the care into something like that, one would also hope that they would give the same time and care to something they already have possession of and another big entity behind it such as the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately it seems that after three years of mediocre attendance and little to no media coverage outside of the NHL Lockout period last season, Prodigal is starting to lean towards sowing their seeds elsewhere.

One look at the Energy’s website is the first big clue to them putting more eggs into the soccer team’s basket. Not once have I seen the quality of the images and renderings that are currently on the Energy site, on the Barons site. It’s obvious they have the technology and someone with the knowledge on how to do it, but they haven’t given any of it to the hockey side of things. On their Twitter feed, they start with a giveaway of the new team scarves and start offering free seats to a game to another blogger located in Oklahoma City, trying to change their mind about the team (meanwhile they block me from their Twitter account after five minutes of following, but I digress). For the Barons, they’ve done nothing but maintain that giving away seats is a bad thing and do all they can to refuse to.

Probably the biggest tell in all of this, Prodigal is adamant about building a soccer specific stadium in downtown Oklahoma City. With the uncertainty of the Cox Convention Center, the Barons most likely need a new place to play. If Prodigal is more wanting to spend the money on a new soccer stadium, you can pretty well guess that the Barons are going to be squeezed out of Oklahoma City if something doesn’t change soon.

In a perfect world, there’s another management/ownership group in Oklahoma City that is ready and waiting to take over the Barons should Prodigal decide to move out of the picture. But as everyone knows, things rarely ever end up that perfect.

Don’t get me wrong in that I’m trying to run them down for doing these things. Maybe they’re changing their ways from how they run the Barons and are trying new things, and that’s great. But as an OKC Barons fan, this worries me that they decided to do this three years too late and still haven’t done those things with the Barons team itself. Other than the Linus Omark goal during the Kid’s Day game, you haven’t heard much at all about the Barons this season anywhere in Oklahoma City. It’s been a frustrating season for a lot of people that are fans of the Oilers organization, but I would certainly hate to lose hockey in OKC, 50 transactions a month or not. I fear that’s the path that we’re currently on.

Workin’ For The Weekend: Abbotsford Heat at Oklahoma City Barons “This Must Be The Place”

The Talking Heads are performance art defined. Blessed with musical talent, the foursome led by vocalist and guitarist David Byrne were the bastions of American new wave when all other acts were birthed across the pond. They were producing, writing and performing music in and around New York city in the late 1970’s in ways that very few understood at the time. Accompanied by art projects in both large and small form, the group was well known for blurring the lines between what it meant to be an artist. Their willingness to remain undefined by no one led them to great success both on the charts and by their critics.

You listen to a few Talking Heads albums and you quickly see how they became the forefathers of digitized music. In many ways, they paved the way for a generation of musical acts to follow that would only try to reproduce the sound. Although those bands would succeed, they struggled to genuinely fulfill the artistic nature of the trailblazers called the Talking Heads.

The light, and entirely dance-able track “This Must Be The Place” from their fifth album Speaking In Tongues is atypical Heads music. Yet the subject matter is a slight hard turn for the group. It’s a simple love song, and rarely did Byrne and company dabble in tunes where emotional feelings clouded their better judgement. In one track they pulled it off even if they didn’t often “go there”.

The words don’t seamlessly flow as if they are telling a story. Rather this is a happy roller coaster ride of love that Byrne is taking us on. While the author “burns with a weak heart” with his “head in the sky” and proclaiming “home is where I want to be” he settles nicely on “this must be the place”. As if some mythological place hadn’t existed, he suddenly finds love, and boy is it hitting him hard.

I love the quirkiness of the Talking Heads. There is something about their video structure, song placement, and perfectly executed boops and beeps that have long captured my imagination. As members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, apparently I’m not the only one that invites their world of oddities into my being. They are classic.

Have the Oklahoma City Barons, like the story teller in “This Must Be The Place”, found their sweet spot? A place where they are comfortable in their confusion, and fully committed to not understanding what to do with it? Sure, why not.

The Barons currently sit at .500 having just split a pair of games with the San Antonio Rampage, who are slightly less darling than OKC. I talked at length last week, in this very place, about mediocrity, and how it is okay to just be good not great. I’ve changed my mind. The baby Oilers can be good and they can win games. We have witnessed it first hand in the form of Omark dangles, Lander surges, and long distance wristers. Being capable and actually performing are two very different things, but we have experienced both as fans through October and November.

They will have their hands full as they welcome the Abbotsford Heat to the Cox Center for a pair of games this weekend. Their 12-4-0-1 start to the season is remarkable, and Oklahoma City will be hosting them in the midst of a 9-1 run that includes two recent beatdowns of the Texas Stars (7-3) and the Toronto Marlies (6-3). They are arguably the best team in the AHL, and there are many reasons for that.

As the Heat counterpart in the NHL finds themselves in a rebuild of sorts, the banner becomes permanently transcribed with the inscription “find offense”. Indeed they’ve found offense thanks to the oldest 22 year old Blair Jones and rookie centerman Corban Knight. Both have notched sixteen points a piece. Ben Hanowski and Markus Granland haven’t looked too shabby either, and that’s good news for the Flames/Heat.

Defensively, they struggle, but they are fine with that. They’ve given up 49 goals this season which is third in the entire AHL. 21 of those goals have been let in by Reto Berra who has looked awful when compared to rookie keeper Joni Orti who has yet to lose a game in in six starts. He is really good. His strength allowed the Heat to part with Laurent Brossoit, bring in Olivier Roy (still ?), and somehow manage to continue to be a good team.

Defensively, they are growing weary, and down the stretch it might do them in. Like the Barons, inconsistency is killing them. Chad Billins has been good at scoring goals and defending, but when you are a squad that likes to rifle shot on net, sometimes you give up space the other direction.

For Oklahoma City Linus Omak and Anton Lander seem to be the most important pieces to the puzzle. Leaders by sheer will and goal scoring, the rest of the team will need to pitch in for the Heat games to be respectable.

Likewise, Ilya Bryzgalov will need to shake the dust off his old boots, and saddle up for his first pro time in quite some time. Promised the start at least once this weekend, Ilya returns to the NHL via the AHL in Oklahoma City. I fully expect some rust, and I think he does too. But what happens if he gets outplayed by Joni Orti at the other end? What if Tyler Bunz has to come in to relieve him? Oh man, good times.

And defensively, Oklahoma City will continue to look to the youngsters in Klefbom, Marincin and the older(but still youngsters) Corey Potter and Denis Grebeshkov to carry the load. Ironically, Martin Gernat and David Musil played so-so in the previous game, and perhaps we are seeing a bit of life in their legs lately (although I’m not very hopeful; sad trombone).

So we await a really good opponent in the Cox Center Friday and Saturday. We cross our fingers for ‘ole Ilya. We pray for depth offense. We hope for really strong defense. And we excitedly watch Roman Horak play his former team. Get to the Cox Center. It’s worth your effort.