Oh man, Public Enemy was a scary good outfit. Long before Flavor Flav was a running gag, and Chuck D was doing voice-overs for Grand Theft Auto, PE was one of the most culturally significant, and socially braggadocios hip-hop groups of any decade. The 1980’s had seen the birth of rap music through the lens of previous “passing trends” like disco and such. However, Public Enemy, and their spastic beats, were enunciated by the politically charged content of their lyrics, and this made them great. Chuck D remains one of the greatest lyrical poets of that era, musically or otherwise, and the balance of Flavor Flav’s good-hearted Jerry Lewis jabs continue to be dynamic nearly thirty years later. Despite where the band evolved from in the late-80’s to now (and the controversy that came along with it), there’s no denying the importance of Public Enemy. Go ahead, I dare ya.
Growing up in the Midwest and eventually the Southwest, Public Enemy wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. But I vividly remember hearing “Don’t Believe The Hype” when I was nine or ten years old, and thus bouncing around my room, microphone to the mirror, like any good-natured elementary kid might be want to do in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Back when radio was fresh, and televised music videos were finally hitting their stride, there was a sense of newness to this group that instantly perked your attention. The accessibility of the trio was rare for a group that challenged folks socially. In short, the significance of this track wouldn’t fully be realized in my mind until much later in life, but that’s the greatness of Public Enemy. They eased you into their thought process via hypnotic, vibrant beats, and dropped the hammer on your brain much later. That’s true genius, and it also stamped legitimacy on PE’s career.
It seems stupid to compare such a legendary and socially important track to a local pro hockey team, but bear with me for a moment.
While the team called the Oklahoma City Barons seemingly struggled out of the gate, losing three straight, let’s peel back the layers of where they are as we near the final weekend of October.
Despite being 29th in overall points the team only has a goal differential of -3. That means the opposition has scored three more goals than the OKC Barons, and that’s not too shabby. By comparison only two or three teams in the bottom ten league-wide have a similar differential. That means games have been close, and scoring hasn’t been too difficult.
The power play is near 30% completion with seventeen attempts on the season. That means that OKC is capitalizing when necessary. And despite the penalty kill being awful, they’ve only allowed eleven short-handed chances. For a young team, both of these accomplishments are welcomed.
Iiro Pakarinen is off to a hot start. Jason Williams and Ryan Hamilton never met a shot they wouldn’t take. Laurent Brossoit seems to be settling. Coach Nelson is tinkering less with defensive pairings. Forward lines are still rotating in and out on a nightly basis. All things considered, don’t believe the hype – it’s not all that bad.
This weekend the Barons play two games. One against the Texas Stars, the other against the Texas Stars. The wrinkle of craziness is that the Friday game is in Oklahoma City, the Saturday game is in Cedar Park. The goofy scheduling of the AHL continues to reveal itself, and the Barons will have to claim some points this weekend to genuinely feel better about the month of October. There’s no denying that.
With the Edmonton Oilers on a two-game win streak it feels as if the farm team is due a good game, even against a heavy opponent like Texas. The Barons are healthy, no injuries to report at the time of this post, and the lines will look similar to what Oklahoma City unfurled in the home opener nearly a week ago.
Meanwhile Texas is healthy (Wrenn and Rallo still on the IR, however), and they look poised to again dominate the West as they have gone unbeaten in three to start the season. Yet they’ve done so by only scoring eight goals, and relying heavily upon good goaltending from Jack Campbell and Jussi Rynnas. Tell me if you have heard this story before. The Stars are good at defending, and keeping chances at bay. This gives team’s like OKC absolute nightmares. So the journey continues…
No news is good news for Oklahoma City. Meaning that a week-full of practice, a pig roast with Todd Nelson, and a few rides on the back of Doug Sauter’s horses can cure what ails a young hockey club. Recently Eric made a trip to visit with Oilers goaltender Tyler Bunz now in Wichita, and in the meantime Laurent Brossoit continues to man the Barons goaltending ship with Frans Tuohimaa his slightly lesser. That’s been a huge story line for Oklahoma City. With Richard Bachman earning NHL dollars these days (filling in for Fasth in Edmonton) we knew that eventually the prospects would take over. That’s not a bad thing, organizationally speaking, but it certainly might be if your a minor league fan. Yet Brossoit has been good, and increasingly better as the games soldier on.
Defensively C.J. Ludwig is set to finally crack the roster this weekend per Todd Nelson’s comments on Monday evening. That’s good, but it also means someone sits. Assume that it is someone on the right as Ludwig is the only right-handed defender the Barons currently have. I’ll go ahead and suggest Musil, although Gernat has been every bit problematic. This doesn’t increase the goodness of the defense, just adds another rested and motivated body. As a whole Jordan Oesterle and Dillon Simpson have played the best minutes to my eye, and that shocks me. With Oscar Klefbom, David Musil, Martin Gernat, and to a less prospect-driven extent Keith Aulie, being the “highly watched” defenders on this team, the fact that two are spoiling the party is really good news. They need to be good, have been, and thus the hope is the others follow suit.
Offensively things seem okay, and comfortable. All four lines are producing scoring and chances and opportunities to not lose. The team has an offensive identity early on, and that’s not necessarily something that came about until January a year ago. This is good news, and I only anticipate great things from the forwards this weekend.
For Texas, Travis Morin continues to be a back-bone of offense while newcomer Julius Honka shows great promise. The Stars do, however, miss the effectiveness of Curtis McKenzie whom is a player not easily replaced. When all is said and done you’ll notice that in three straight wins at least fourteen active roster players have etched a point. That means only three players (excluding goaltenders and the injured Rallo) haven’t earned at least a scoring point in three games. This is important, and it is significant. If the Barons are going to outlast the Stars they’ll need to challenge all four lines defensively, and look to flat out score more goals. Trying to out muscle this team ends badly.
Previous Oklahoma City Barons Roster:
Scratched: R. Hamilton, Khaira, Ludwig
The games can be heard via the Barons iHeart radio position on your mobile device dial or via a Live365 search for “OKC Barons”. Both games begin at 7:00pm CT with pregame beginning about fifteen minutes prior.