OKC Hosts San Antonio, Must Win An Understatement

Photo courtesy of Steven Christy

What a wild and wacky week it has been for the Oklahoma City Barons. Just when you thought winning six out of seven made them a lock for the postseason, they rattle off four straight loses, and emerge with one extra standing point. It isn’t all their fault, the harvesting of players, and injured status of some key ingredients has forced the team to soul search just a bit. Todd Nelson unveiled some, *cough* interesting line combos in the most recent losses against the Texas Stars, and they looked like this:

Ben Eager – Will Acton – Kale Kessy
Austin Fyten – C.J. Stretch – Andrew Miller
Jack Combs – Alex Lavoie – Matt Ford
Curtis Hamilton – Travis Ewanyk – Steve Pinizzotto

The first game got pushed into OT, where the Stars just outlasted the less skillful Barons. Down the stretch hockey can be a struggle, and for this group that has been the case. In that game, your goal scorers were C.J. Stretch, Alex Lavoie, and Matt Ford. All scoring coming from the 2nd and 3rd lines. Before I collapse the building on the E-A-K line, they were solid. Just about pushed their anger over the edge, as you can imagine, but danced the canyon lip beautifully. They just can’t score.

The same lineup appeared in game number two, and the goal scoring came from Matt Ford, Travis Ewanyk, and Andrew Miller. Again, the top line isn’t scoring. A two goal lead early was erased by three straight and then some from the Texas Stars. But there is some good news. After giving away 50% of their PK goals in game one, they stifled Texas in seven straight chances. That’s HUGE, and it kinda shows the defensive tendencies of the forward lineup.

In the end, I was impressed with the Barons young defense. It seemed less hammy than usual, was able to curtail the sadness of mistakes, and at times emerged as a legit force. Playing good defense against the Texas Stars is difficult, but the Barons did some good things those nights.

Here were the pairings:

Martin Gernat – Taylor Fedun
Brandon Davidson – Brad Hunt
Denis Grebeshkov – David Musil

Joey Leach was the lone fish out of water in game one, and gave up two penalties that led to two Stars goals. Not good. So Grebeshkov came in for him on night two, and I think that’s what we see on Tuesday night.

To confirm my suspicion is Todd Nelson. On Monday’s radio show he mentioned that the lineup would remain unchanged from the weekend. Okay. Which also pointed to Mark Arcobello and Roman Horak continuing to be absent from the lineup. Arcobello has headed to Edmonton where he will get a second opinion on an upper-body injury situation rumored to be in the shoulder area. Horak also nursing an undisclosed injury.

To complicate matters, the OKC Barons will face off against the San Antonio Rampage with a recently recalled goaltender in Ty Rimmer. Rimmer, who was prepping a Quad City playoff first round, will now take the co-pilot chair next to Richard Bachman. The Oilers elected to send Laurent Brossoit to Edmonton over Bachman simply because it effects the Barons less. That’s good news. That’s also giving them a ton of credit, and forgetting the gong show they’ve blessed OKC with in recent months. I digress. Bachman needs to be strong, Rimmer needs to be ready. As the fight to the Calder Cup postseason continues, angry faces emerge, and people do strange things. A Texas rival like San Antonio would love to make cranky anyone wearing the home whites this evening.

The playoff scene looks rather bleak when you consider how the Barons have lost games recently. Nonetheless, here is the playoff race as of today:

playoff-primer-3-25

There’s Charlotte just hanging around. Oh, they’ll play the Barons four of the next five games. Getting ahead now instead of trying to eek out a few more standing points in head-to-head matchups is important. Lose now, and the mojo might just be souring.

Check out Eric’s post from earlier today where he looked at the matchup and stat lines. Interesting things.

By The Numbers: Rampage at Barons, 3/25/14

It’s the final meeting of the regular season between the Oklahoma City Barons and the San Antonio Rampage.  The Barons lead the season series 7-2-0-2 against the Rampage. Both teams have had a merry-go-round in net this season as the Rampage have faced six different goalies in a Barons sweater, while OKC has seen four different Rampage goalies.

Bobby Butler is the leading active scorer for the Rampage against OKC, scoring ten points (5 goals, 5 assists) in ten games against the Barons. Leading the way for the Barons against SA, Matthew Ford has ten points (6 goals, 4 assists) as well against the Rampage in ten games played. Roman Horak has seven points versus the Rampage in ten games, two with Abbotsford and eight with OKC.

SAN ANTONIO AT OKLAHOMA CITY
RAMPAGE BARONS
26-29-3-6 RECORD 29-27-2-7
RANKS
26TH LEAGUE 18TH
20TH OFFENSE 8TH
24TH DEFENSE 29TH
18TH PP% 4TH
28TH PK% 29TH
SA OVERALL STATS OKC
61 POINTS 67
0.477 RECORD % 0.515
0.607 HOME WINNING % 0.597
0.375 AWAY WINNING % 0.441
.625 SHOOTOUT WINNING % .125
-0.28 GOAL DIFFERENTIAL PER GAME -0.32
1.34 SHOT DIFFERENTIAL PER GAME -2.11
14.1 PIM PER GAME 17.0
13.6 OPPONENT PIM PER GAME 14.8
SA OFFENSIVE STATS OKC
2.77 GOALS PER GAME 3.14
2.06 ES GOALS PER GAME 2.17
0.70 PP GOALS PER GAME 0.97
33.19 SHOTS PER GAME 31.89
12.00 SHOTS PER GOAL 10.16
8.33% TEAM SHOOTING % 9.84%
16.4% POWER PLAY % 21.6%
SA DEFENSIVE STATS OKC
3.05 GOALS AGAINST PER GAME 3.46
2.03 ES GOALS AGAINST PER GAME 2.46
1.02 PP GOALS AGAINST PER GAME 1.00
31.84 SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME 34.00
10.45 SHOTS AGAINST PER GOAL 9.82
9.57% OPP TEAM SHOOTING % 10.18%
78.9% PENALTY KILL % 78.0%
SA GOALIE STATS OKC
0.912 SAVE % 0.902
2.75 GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE 3.30
2 SHUTOUTS 1
GOALIE RECORD VS. OPP GAA SV%
Richard Bachman 12-4-1 vs. SA 2.32 0.922
Ty Rimmer 0-0-0 vs. SA 0.00 0.000
Michael Houser 2-1-0 vs. OKC 3.25 0.877
Scott Clemmensen 0-1-0 vs. OKC 5.00 0.848

Great Moments In Recent Water Bottle Shenanigans

Over the weekend, while we all gasped, chuckled, cried, and wallowed in our pity while the Calgary Flames walloped the Edmonton Oilers, we learned a lot about an NHL team. Watching Taylor Hall slam a bottle on the ground while seated on the bench, and the chain reaction that took place following that moment in time, was an Oilers moment for the ages. Forget the great names hanging in the rafters, a suit got wet man, that’s serious business. Forget that the team is nestled comfortably near last place, I need a towel.

Taylor Hall and Dallas Eakins seemed to have a great relationship, probably still do. But I’m here to tell you, they may have stumbled across one of the greatest institutions of professional sports — a water bottle incident.

I give you “Great Moments In Recent Water Bottle Shenanigans”

We will start with the obvious one. Dustin Brown wrong-ends this Gatorade bottle. Still as fresh and unique as the day he internally tried to hide under the bench.

And, of course, Tie Domi. The glass-eyed snake charmer, and his wild and woolly penalty box fun. Anyone know what happened to this fan? I sure hope he struck a deal with Horizon Glass Installs. Gold, Jerry, Gold.

Moving on. Let’s take a brief detour here, and broaden things just a bit. Not only are water bottles to blame for crazy situations, but the whole Gatorade company. Dubinsky clearly isn’t a fan of traditional orange, perhaps he likes Riptide Rasberry?

Evander Kane is a magician. Or so this next image might have us think. Either he sold his soul, Delta Blues style, this is incredible video tweaking, or he’s just that good. I’m going with Delta Blues.

Remember that one time when the Maple Leafs were FA-REAKED on 24/7 because Todd Bertuzzi hit “their” water bottle? Good times, man, good times.

Sometimes, late at night, when I have trouble sleeping, I envision ways that hockey could incorporate a “flag” that the coaches can throw to the ice to alert them of things. Similar to the NFL. Little did we know…Marchand is a GENIUS!

One of the great things about water bottles is that they’ve not changed much in 1,000 years. You wanna know why ergonomic designs just don’t cut it? EXHIBIT A:

I pretty much love Ryan Getzlaf. You probably didn’t know this about me. I’m not sure if it’s the nasty wrist shot or the furrowed brow, any way you slice it, he’s a beast. But not as beastly as the fan that forced him to do this.

And finally, how about getting a ten minute misconduct for drinking an opposing goaltenders Gatorade. You have no idea where that thing has been, my man. To each his own.

In summation, Dallas Eakins and Taylor Hall, it could be worse. Your incident isn’t a first, just another story long line of incredibly great moments in hockey water bottle situations. Dry clean that suit. Refrain from slamming bottles to the earth. Let’s all learn to get along. Embrace the shenanigans.

 

Viktor Fasth Unlikely To Play, Bachman vs. Brossoit Debate Begins

Photo by Steven Christy

Word out of Edmonton Oilers practice this morning is that Viktor Fasth was bowled over unintentionally (conspiracy theories run amuck) by Oklahoma City Barons captain Anton Lander. The news comes at a completely awful time as the team in OKC is knee deep in the playoff hunt, and having just lost two games to southern rival, the Texas Stars. How crippling is a potential goaltender recall? Monstrously so.

There are currently two Oilers goaltenders on the farm. One is the recent to-the-AHL callup, Laurent Brossoit, who was swapped for Tyler Bunz last week amid a pile of player transactions. Richard Bachman is the other.

Richard “The Biz” Bachman is a huge part of why and how the Oklahoma City team has managed to be in playoff consideration in the final days of March. He has been miraculous early and late, and Nelson has ridden him hard in recent weeks. Save for a single game played by Tyler Bunz, Richard Bachman has shouldered the majority of the load down the stretch. Bachman is currently fourth in minutes played by AHL goaltenders, the three above him have all played two or three extra games. He is also first in total saves, and in only 42 games played.

So the choice is Brossoit vs. Bachman.

The Edmonton Oilers will likely choose Richard, he’s earned it, pay the man. This does, however, drastically reduce the chances of beating anyone to win the final playoff spot in the West. That’s a bummer.

Brossoit is considered by many, including myself, a good goalending prospect. Yet he is still rather green. Bestow the recall upon him just to have him ride the pine if you will, but if he enters the game – beware. He is a prospect in every sense of the word. A good prospect, but not one ready for NHL minutes.

The trickle down effect won’t just harm the Barons. Ty Rimmer or Chet Pickard might be called upon to back-up Brossoit (assuming Bachman leaves), and both guys play important roles on the ECHL and CHL teams with whom they now reside. Quad City has earned a playoff birth. Bakersfield would like to round out a sub-par season on a high note. Why not recall Tyler Bunz? He took a slapshot just below the mask a few days ago, fracturing his larnyx and doing vocal cord damage. He’s out for a while.

A week ago, when Steve MacIntyre was placed with the Oilers, we began to wonder if perhaps the NHL team was “helping” the Barons. Indeed it could be seen that way. I guess we will know if Craig MacTavish and crew actually care about the Barons making the playoffs. I don’t think they do, nor should they. However, it is worth considering especially when you claim to be developing a “prospect AHL team”. The postseason would be a nice experience – travel, game preparation, odd schedules, change of routine – for many of these young players. It also might give Oilers’ fans something worth rejoicing in. We will have to wait, see, and weep endless tears.

Barons vs. Stars By The Numbers: 3/22/2014

OKLAHOMA CITY
AT
TEXAS
BARONS
STARS
29-26-2-7
RECORD
40-17-3-5
RANKS
19TH
LEAGUE
2ND
8TH
OFFENSE
2ND
29TH
DEFENSE
11TH
3RD
PP%
1ST
29TH
PK%
6TH
OKC
OVERALL STATS
TEX
67
POINTS
88
0.523
RECORD %
0.677
0.597
HOME WINNING %
0.758
0.455
AWAY WINNING %
0.603
.125
SHOOTOUT WINNING %
.285
-0.30
GOAL DIFFERENTIAL PER GAME
0.83
-2.00
SHOT DIFFERENTIAL PER GAME
7.43
16.9
PIM PER GAME
12.2
14.7
OPPONENT PIM PER GAME
14.2
OKC
OFFENSIVE STATS
TEX
3.14
GOALS PER GAME
3.54
2.17
ES GOALS PER GAME
2.38
0.97
PP GOALS PER GAME
1.15
31.86
SHOTS PER GAME
36.92
10.14
SHOTS PER GOAL
10.43
9.86%
TEAM SHOOTING %
9.58%
21.5%
POWER PLAY %
26.3%
OKC
DEFENSIVE STATS
TEX
3.44
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME
2.71
2.42
ES GOALS AGAINST PER GAME
2.17
1.02
PP GOALS AGAINST PER GAME
0.54
33.86
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME
29.49
9.85
SHOTS AGAINST PER GOAL
10.89
10.15%
OPP TEAM SHOOTING %
9.18%
77.4%
PENALTY KILL %
86.1%
OKC
GOALIE STATS
TEX
0.902
SAVE %
0.913
3.29
GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE
2.51
1
SHUTOUTS
6

Former OKC Barons in Playoffs Abroad

From Finland to Italy, England to Russia, former OKC Barons players are currently signed in numerous leagues throughout Europe and points east. It really comes as no surprise since on any given night in OKC you can find not only NHL scouts but also scouts from Europe who have been mighty impressed with these fellows coming out of OKC. As the regular season in Europe ends and teams move into the Playoffs, a number of former OKC Barons are now very busy with some post season action:

Check back for updates as the EIHL’s regular season is still in process.

Austria (Erste Bank Eishockey Liga – EBEL):

  • Alex Plante & Kevin Montgomery (Dornbirner EC; Quarterfinals);
  • Brad Moran (EHC Linz; advancing to Semi-Finals).

Denmark (Metal Ligaen):

  • Kirill Tulupov (Frederikshavn White Hawks, advancing to Semi Finals).

Finland (Liiga):

  • Josh Green (Tappara Tampere; Quarterfinals).

Germany (DEL & DEL2):

  • Nathan Deck (Ravensburg Towerstars DEL2; Quarterfinals);
  • Colten Teubert (Iserlohn Roosters DEL; Quarterfinals);
  • Dan Ringwald (Bad Nauheim DEL2 – Relegation Playoffs).

Italy:

  • Ryan O’Marra and Darcy Campbell (Val Pusteria (Brunico); advancing to Semi-Finals).

Russia & Croatia (KHL):

  • Teemu Hartikainen (Salavat Yulaev, advancing to Semi-Finals);
  • Jonathan Cheechoo (Voted Best Player on team’s 1st season; Medveščak Zagreb, eliminated in Quarterfinals);
  • Niko Hovinen (Vladivostok Admirals, eliminated in Quarterfinals).

Sweden (SHL):

  • Toni Rajala (HV71; Quarterfinals);
  • Liam Reddox (Växjö Lakers; Quarterfinals);
  • Shawn Belle & Garrett Stafford (Färjestad; Quarterfinals).

Switzerland (NLA):

  • Ryan Keller (ZSC; Quarterfinals);
  • Lennu Petrell (Genève-Servette; advancing to Semi-Finals);
  • Martin Gerber (Kloten; Quarterfinals);
  • Alex Giroux (Ambrì-Piotta; eliminated in Quarterfinals).

Barons Sign Allen American, Alex Lavoie, To PTO

21 year old forward, Alex Lavoie of Anjou, Qubec, has signed a PTO with the Oklahoma City Barons. This is newsworthy information as the Barons attempt to shore up the roster w/ just over a dozen or so games to be played in the regular season.

Lavoie, a training camp attendee in Oklahoma City, has spent the majority of this season with the Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League where he has earned 76 points in 60 games. He has spent time on the top line in Allen alongside Tyler Ludwig, a familiar name in the minor leagues.

Alex Lavoie stats:

You  might recall, Lavoie suited one game in November with the Barons (against Abbotsford) and centered Ryan Hamilton and Matt Ford in a time where OKC was still sorta sideways.

The additional body is good, and leaves (by my count) two extra healthy skaters for the Barons. Remember that Pitlick, Lander, Steve MacIntyre are all with the big club. Ryan Hamilton is having shoulder surgery.

The Barons are in Texas for a back-to-back series with Texas, and it should be nothing short of interesting.

Brossoit In. Bunz Out. Greg Miller Arrives

Keep up. Stay with me. Transactions are happening. Indeed the whirlwind of late season injuries and call-ups are now punishing every layer of the Edmonton Oilers organization. Punishing in a good way, or so I’ve been told by the cold cup of coffee hanging around on my desk that is clearly half empty. A goaltender swap, and a player arrival from Bakersfield is on the docket next, and I’ll do my best not to over extend you with too much thinking (because I don’t want to think!)

Tyler Bunz, playing in only one game (a win!) since being recalled to back up Richard Bachman, has been swapped with acquired-this-season prospect, Laurent Brossoit.

The choice to swap the two initially gave me pause. First, Brossoit was a bit underwhelming in a Barons sweater, and management deemed him a bit green. He had moments, unlike Roy or Bunz of late, that highlighted NHL-quality goaltending. Both in positioning and glove-work, he is indeed a goaltender that seems to be out-packing previous incarnations of Barons / Oilers tenders. I like him. Have since day one. Now I need him to play really really well.

The likelihood that he plays is slim as long as Richard Bachman stays healthy. The Biz is the high card, and the Barons are hanging on to him down the stretch. He certainly seems to be the gateway to playoff redemption.

Laurent Brossot this season:

Bunz, another goaltender I’ve liked in the past, is caught between ECHL and AHL with very little movement towards NHL. Fasth and Scrivens likely remove just a bit of the world conquering juxtaposition that Oilers goaltending prospects find themselves in, so the road for the next round of farm tenders if paved with gold. Let’s hope.

Tyler Bunz this season:

Greg Miller, a forward acquired from Bridgeport / Stockton by the Barons, has given some smarts and scoring perspective to the ECHL club in Bakersfield. Across two ECHL clubs this season he’s right at a point per game (48 played, 48 scored). He is a good power play guy, likes to score, is similar to Arcobello in build, and certainly won’t hurt the squad in Oklahoma City.

Greg Miller this season:

With Horak and Arcobello staying put on the farm, the Barons still have a chance to make the postseason. Eeek. I hope.

Steve MacIntyre Called Upon By The Edmonton Oilers

Ten games, 34 penalty minutes, and no points. The stat lines for Steve MacIntyre aren’t all that glamorous for the mighty defender / sometimes winger. Collected by the Edmonton Oilers off the waiver wire for some unexplained reason, Steve Mac has been toiling away in the minors for the bulk of the season with nary a game skated.

February 22nd & 23rd, Steve played a pair of games where he was positioned in a bottom line with Kale Kessy on the left, Travis Ewanyk in the middle, and himself on the right. That’s a persnickety line that gets more ice time than most fourth lines, but still very little. That was his last game skated, nearly a month ago.

His previous position in the lineup was quite similar on the farm.

Twice in January he played with Brandon Davidson on the opposite wing (yes, that Davidson) simply because the need for healthy forwards necessitated it.

In December he played a game with Martin Marincin, which turns out, would be one of his only two starts defensively on the season.

Most of his TOI is logged on the fourth line, where you would expect the heavy handed enforcer to land, and his irregularity in the lineup still has me wildly curious as to why the Oilers would entertain his contract in 2013-2014.

Nonetheless, Jordan Eberle is out, the Barons lose a seated vet, and the world continues to spin. Is there a chance Mac plays in the Oilers lineup? Sure, why not. Is there a better player on the OKC Barons roster that might position themselves better? Um, yes.

In the end, Horak and Arcobello continue to be passed over, but before I take it personally, I also realize that some shenanigans behind the scenes is probably ongoing. Simply put, the Oilers care about the Barons chances to make the playoffs. Maybe? Maybe.

Ryan Hamilton To Have Shoulder Surgery

Photo by Steven Christy

It has been a season for the ages for the Oilers organization. One that will go down in the annals of time as either the beginning of the preparation of betterment or the continuation of futility. As we near the rear end of another sub-par Edmonton Oilers season, the injuries have arrived. The farm team is not absent from injury themselves.

On the 3/15 post game radio show Oklahoma City Barons head coach, Todd Nelson, claimed that Ryan Hamilton is done for the season. Will (or has had) shoulder surgery in the coming weeks to months. He hasn’t played a games since early February.

The two-year contracted player of the Edmonton Oilers spent ample amounts of time with Dallas Eakins in Toronto’s AHL affiliate. Fourteen NHL games, two with the Edmonton Oilers, has made Ryan a bit of an under-seen player on most nights. Playing thirty games for OKC, and acquiring sixteen points along the way, Hamilton seems to be the player we expected, but perhaps not the one the Oilers want him to be. Nonetheless, he will be around for another season of Oilers hockey. Perhaps a good offseason will lead to a stellar October, 2014.