Yawn. Stretch. Reach for your Starbucks Verona. Grab your high-falootin’ reading gadget, and join me for a game day preview from the friendly confines of Halloween week in Oklahoma City.
Sooner or later it was bound to happen. We would eventually use the Tom Petty classic “I Won’t Back Down” in a game preview. It sounds cliche, especially in hockey circles, to talk about standing your ground. The grandiose way in which hockey folk speak of their “warriors” simply demands that goofy statements be made. How many times have you seen Sid or Alex or Steven get pummeled only to have an announcer say something like, “his teammates won’t stand for that,” or “someone has to do something”? Too many times to recall, I’m sure. And when I hear the talking head utter those words, I begin humming Sir Petty.
Released in 1989, “I Won’t Back Down” was Petty’s first solo single off his first solo album. The mid-tempo war cry would have a profound usefulness for years and decades to come. Sports teams, political campaigns, even commercials found the straight forward message immediately profound.
Despite its top twenty success back then, and it’s continued use today, the single remains a good bit of songwriting. Petty, known more for Americana/Jam Band romps, had a really keen ear for a sugary hook. Rumor has it that George Harrison sat in on the recording of the track, and that alone entices me.
The driving guitar low end, the slinky lead guitar riffs, and the wiry vocals of Petty have always done it for me. A rock/pop classic in my mind that would point to a great songwriter, and true 80’s and 90’s gem of a performer.
The Oklahoma City Barons tango with the Texas Stars on Wednesday evening for the fourth time in less than two weeks. Texas won the first outing with OKC roaring back to win the next two. With Travis Morin heating up, the Barons potentially having to make some goaltending decisions, and defenses for both teams starting to challenge competition better, Wednesday’s tilt will be a good one. But who backs down?
The Barons have received scoring from every line as well as a few defenders, and suddenly the season is beginning to take off. Scoring problems were so 2013.
In net Laurent Brossoit took a game and a half to really find his sea legs. Improving minute by minute, and then suffering a back issue, Frans Tuohimaa stepped in and had back-to-back monstrous games. Nearly 100 shots in two games only netted eight goals by the opposition, and it seemed like a goaltending controversy was bubbling to the surface. In all fairness, it has, but two games is such a tiny pool to be excited about. Nonetheless, Brossoit is listed day-to-day, but we now know that Tuohimaa is capable, and his North American debut at the end of the last season wasn’t a fluke. Kid is a talented goaltender.
The number of warm bodies continues to be something that Todd Nelson is trying to manage. Tyler Pitlick is likely one of the forwards healthy scratched on Wednesday, this on the wings of a six point tear in just five games played. It will continue to be a head-scratcher – why the Barons rotate whom they rotate – but we know that there is a method to the madness. Whether that’s the Oilers willing their opinion on the nightly roster or Todd Nelson legitimately squaring up bodies we might never know. We do know, however, that all will play, and all will sit. Guaranteed.
Oscar Klefbom continues to be the defensive standout, and that’s good news for him. He has made the case to be the next defensive call-up, and with the potential return of Brandon Davidson (hernia) soon, suddenly two extra defenders will be available. If Hunt and Klefbom were to switch places, perhaps C.J. Ludwig goes to Bakersfield. Either way, the defense is starting to congele, and remain consistent despite the forwards constantly changing.
Friday night Oklahoma City handed Texas their first and only loss of the season. As the teams have now had a few days to recover from the overtime thriller on Saturday night, each squad looks to gain ground on one another.
Travis Morin had a dazzling, hat-trick on Saturday despite a loss for his team. He has had some help in the scoring department from three standout rookies. Julius Honka, Derek Hulak, and John Klingberg have a combined sixteen points in five games. The success of youth has been an eye-opening experience for the Stars, and a sight to behond. These players are hard to beat, and hard to contain. This makes life difficult for Oklahoma City.
Lineup in practice for Oklahoma City:
The game is 7:30 (CT) in Cedar Park, Texas. Check Live 365 (keyword: OKC Barons) for a great live stream of the game, and listen early for Jim and Todd’s wonderful pregame thoughts.