Third periods. You could call it the most important twenty minutes of a hockey game. The escalation of the game should build like a beautiful symphonic expression telling an elaborate story.
The string section slowly glides as the viola tickles your eardrum. The cellos play a melodious rhythm that resounds through your inner being. The light thud of the bass gives way to the sudden full-bodied sound of the bassoon.
Next comes the piercing sound of the flute and piccolo, and the sensation that something great is about to happen. As they twinkle, almost sparkle, behind the wood apparatus that accompany them, the movement pauses momentarily as if needing a breathe.
The sound of metallic staccato notes fills the upper reaches of the auditorium. The trombone and the tuba play in perfect synchronicity as the piece of music turns to pure art. Each part of the brass section works in harmony – forming notes and thoughts and memories – as you begin to understand a story being told where there are no words and there are no pictures.
Finally the percussion, and the overwhelming clamor that completes the entirety of the performance. Always a show-stealer, the shakers, the xylophone, the cymbals, the timpani bang out rhythmic noise that beg you to listen. Thumping and dancing along, you almost visualize the notes as they play. As if they are hanging over the heads of each musician in the form of a talk bubble.
With each section moving along at the same pace, the same rhythm, and the same accordance, you notice that the end is near. The music is nearing the crescendo – the loudest moment – as you begin to sit forward in your seat. A stanza passes, you wait. A second frame begins and you wait. By the third you are anxiously awaiting the resounding gong, but you remain on the edge. By the fourth you exhale. Every instrument strikes the final note in beautiful harmony, the conductor raises his hands in the air, and the music drops.
It is over.
The auditorium erupts with praise and shouts. The overwhelming experience brings tears to your eyes as you well up with joy.
The time has come. You have made it. The journey is now complete.
This is hockey.
The Oklahoma City Barons have had a remarkable journey deep into games for much of the regular season. Nineteen times this season the Barons played a game into overtime. Thirteen of those games they won, thus putting them into the record books (at the twelfth win) as the team with the most regular season overtime victories. That’s impressive.
But put all of that overtime business behind just for a minute. Let us take a good, long, hard look at the third period. I think this team might be on to something (or just really lucky)
Here is the Barons scoring per period during the regular season:
1st Period – 65
2nd Period – 73
3rd Period – 72
Overtime – 14
The simple version here is that the Barons have scored over 220 goals with good numbers past the second period. That is important.
While the team did not lead the league in the goals, they certainly were able to generate balanced scoring across three periods, and produce late in games. That is not to be taken as a be-all-that-ends-all statement that the Barons refuse to be taken down late, just that they themselves can score in those moments.
What about the Rampage and period scoring?
1st Period – 65
2nd Period – 92
3rd Period – 76
Overtime – 9
In 248 goals score, the Rampage offense scored nearly 38% of their goals in the second period. Whereas the Barons seem a bit more balance, there is a large gap between second and third period scoring, and an even larger one between second and first period.
Again, this is a sweeping accusation, but I think it is important when pressed to the glass of the two games played in the postseason thus far.
So I got curious, and even more curiousier.
When comparing the goals per period in Barons vs. Rampage head-to-head opportunities, it appears the same trend sort of exists, albeit less dramatic
*Barons goals per period vs. Rampage
1st Period – 9
2nd Period – 11
3rd Period – 9
Overtime – 2
Rampage goals per period vs. Barons
1st Period – 11
2nd Period – 13
3rd Period – 8
Overtime – 2
Shootout – 2
Each team’s third period scoring and beyond seems pretty similar in the head-to-head games this season (twelve total).
*Keep in mind that I could be off a goal or two; difficult to find head-to-head goals in a tidy compartment at this time of the year
I think what these numbers tell us is that the Barons and Rampage play close games (something we already know), but also that in two postseason games we are moving towards uncharted waters, and certainly some incredible luck by the Oklahoma City Barons.
Through two games here are the Barons goals per period:
1st Period – 1
2nd Period – 1
3rd Period – 5
Overtime – 1
And the Rampage through two postseason games:
1st Period – 3
2nd Period – 2
3rd Period – 0
So as the Rampage continue to score early in games, the Barons have found a ton of scoring past the second period. This, according to season-long projections, is a major anomaly. I realize comparing a 76 game season to two is about the dumbest thing you can do. Yet it does shed a tiny bit of light on how incredibly fortunate the Barons have been in the first two games.
Does this mean San Antonio has a chance to win three straight? Absolutely. Will they? It will be tough.
Goaltending, defensive pairs, transactions, forward positions, number of power plays versus penalty kills – these are just a few of my favorite things, or at least things I like to mention when we discuss period scoring.
The Rampage are a highly skilled team, pretty good in net, and for the most part entertaining to watch. They play a brand of hockey I really like. But for some reason they are unable to go deep. Perhaps injuries are to blame. Maybe the Barons are hitting their stride as the Rampage are headed down the long slide on the Chutes and Ladders game board.
Speculating on the outcome of the next three games is difficult. Knowing that the Barons have already won two makes things a bit more challenging for the Rampage. Do we look to historical information to figure out what plays out in game three? You can, but you probably will not like what you see. Unless the history lesson is less than a week old.