When I listen to Echo & The Bunnymen I feel as if I’ve stumbled upon to something really special… because I have. For as uncool as I’ve been for the majority of my life, there is something that inspires coolness when the gloomy rock/pop trio hits my eardrums. I’m always cautiously honest with myself when it comes to music that inspires me this way. Often I over-appreciate British synth pop of the 80’s because it is one of my favorite genres. Yet recently, I was reminded of The Doors-like tendencies of Echo & The Bunnymen, and how they seemingly attracted a loyal, open fan base in England, but only earned a cult following in the States. Early releases like “The Cutter” and “Silver” felt oddly original despite their late-60’s infused psychedelic tendencies. They simply were an 80’s band misunderstood by the current culture, but still whip-smart and fresh regardless of their propensity to be considered copy cats of bands gone by.
“Do It Clean” is a no-holds-bar rocker with four or five chords being the general makeup of the track that ushered the post-punk era into the early 1980’s. Found on the dark, gloomy, and introspective album Crocodiles, I dare you to find a better Bunnymen track (“Killing Moon”, “Lips Like Sugar”, “Bring On The Dancing Horses”, okay, so you could make a case for half a dozen that are equally as good, certainly not better). Wrapped in lyrics of despair and sadness with the drug culture being a mainstream facet of whom the Bunnymen were for most of their existence. I’ve used the word psychedelic to describe the band, but one listen and you’ll know what I mean.
As the 80’s gave way to the 90’s, the band became a staple on indie films of the new decade. This brought the trio back to life, so to speak, but really it just honored their musical legacy that probably went by us too quickly. Keep in mind, I was born in the early 80’s so I discovered the band during this time. The friendship has been wonderful ever since.
To take the lyrics from “Do It Clean” literally, our Oklahoma City Barons need to start finishing. Not just periods, but entire games. The play from here on out gets tough, and it begins this week with an early weekend romp against the visiting Toronto Marlies on Thursday.
The now Dallas Eakins-less Marlies are in good health. Smart, young, feisty and leading the North Division and nestled neatly into third in the Western Conference. Scoring isn’t their strong suit this season, but they’ve somehow managed to capture wins (an ongoing theme with Toronto based teams this season). Led by a defenseman, good ole T.J. Brennan, the team has managed to score the same amount of goals as Oklahoma City, but keep the puck out of the net even more. That differential is good for Toronto, bothersome for opponents trying to score. In addition to Brennan’s eighteen goals and 25 assists to lead the team, Spencer Abbot has chipped in another ten goals and 32 assists. Then there are a pair of rookies to keep an eye on. Josh Leivo and Sam Carrick have provided additional scoring when the team needed it most.
The Marlies are a team that has a tendency to lose games late. So the gameplan for the blue and white is the same as it is in OKC – finish strong. The majority of their offense this season has come in the second period, so it will be important for Oklahoma City (as it is in virtually every game) to get out to an early lead.
When the dust settles on scoring, defending, and special teams, the biggest hurdle for Oklahoma City will be to beat Drew MacIntyre. He’s good, in case you’ve forgotten. As you well know, he’s been virtually everywhere in his career, but the thirty year old tender has put together two good seasons with the Marlies. He’s made more saves and faced more minutes than any other goaltender in the league, and somehow he’s managed a .920 save percentage. That’s a bananas good number for journeyman netminder. One that the Marlies have relied on for 31 games.
The power play and the penalty kill are really good for this version of the Marlies. With the Barons hovering near the dumpster in terms of PK percentages (77%) they will have to do their darndest to keep themselves out of the box, something that has been an issue recently despite the low penalty totals earlier in the season.
Oklahoma City will be without a former Marlie, Will Acton, as he will sit one game for instigating in the final five minutes of the blowout in Charlotte last weekend. The team has called on the services of Austin Fyten, who has been playing well with the Idaho Steelhounds. The roster gets some tinkering as a result, and the team certainly loses a big-time face-off guy in Acton. That might be the key to the Barons success in a pinch.
Look for Stretch, Lander, Horak, and Ryan Hamilton, another former Marlie, to help round out the attempted scoring chances. Also keep an eye on dark horse newcomer Jack Combs. Unlike Pinizzotto who is going to be the agitator extreme, Combs has a good presence in front of the net, and that might pay off dearly if the Barons are going to beat Mr. MacIntyre.
The game starts at 7:00 Central Time. It should be a good one. Tune in (after listening to some Echo & The Bunnymen, you can thank me later)