The Barons were looking to rebound from a pretty lifeless defensive effort on Friday, with a rousing defeat of the Texas Stars. With similar records going into this game, one would emerge above .500, and maybe with a little bragging rights. After all, the South Division of the Western Conference looks to be a major league dogfight.
The Barons indeed would reign victorious over the visiting Texas Stars on a cool Sunday afternoon in front of a tiny crowd at the Cox Center. Justin Schultz would score a pair alongside one a piece from Dane Byers and Antti Tyrvainen en route to a 4-2 victory. The “W” was well earned, but the rough stuff continued for Colten Teubert who’d get his second instigating penalty in a three day span. But was it worth it? Perhaps.
Stars goaltender, Cristopher Nilstorp, would receive the bitter end of his teammates lazy line change as Brandon Davidson was able to move the puck quickly up the ice for OKC to a streaking Dane Byers who’d unleash a hard shot that beat the visiting netminder. Barons lead 1-0 at 7:30. But two minutes later Matt Fraser, who finished last season with second in the league in goals, earned his first goal of the young season by picking the pocket of Barons defender Dan Ringwald. Tie game. At the eleven minute mark, Taylor Vause would be tagged with a tripping call that set up a Barons power play, their first of the game. And who else but Justin Schultz scores with a man advantage with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins assisting. Olivier Roy would protect the net well to round out the period, and the Barons would end the first frame ahead 2-1.
In the second period, Antti Tyrvainen would score his first of the year care of Kristians Pelss and Taylor Fedun. The Stars would show a little more fight as Cody Eakin inches the Texas team just a bit closer to the Barons. But thirteen minutes had past, and Justin Schultz was ready for more. He scored his second of the night, a power play goal assisted by Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which would also be his sixth of the year as he becomes the sole proprietor of top scorer in the league. But the third period would be the main talking point for water cooler fodder on Monday morning. And it came from a familiar face.
Jack Campbell, relieving Nihlstorp after 20+ minutes of play, steadied the Stars ship. But his team couldn’t connect on Olivier Roy despite throwing 13 goals his way in the third period. The Barons stayed home on defense, protected the puck, and got a little feisty. Perhaps it was frustration, or maybe it was retaliation for a previous event, but what encouraged Antoine Roussel to perform a knee-on-knee hit to Jordan Eberle still has me scratching my head. But he did. Jordan seemed temporarily gimpy, and then watched as Colten Teubert literally chase down Roussel and begin to pummel him. Given the instigator penalty for the second time in two games, Teubert would also receive a fighting penalty, an upgraded instigator/misconduct penalty, and an aggressor game misconduct thrown in for good measure. Was it worth it? Maybe. With a two goal lead at that point, it appeared it was worth sticking up for his teammate, Jordan Eberle. Ebs would be fine. Would actually serve the penalty for Teubert. Life would go on.
The Barons would end the night with a margin win of two goals. 4-2 was your final, and we’ll likely still be talking about this one 24 hours from now. And maybe for the wrong reasons.
The “caged” Nugent-Hopkins seemed fine. However, Taylor Fedun would take a stick to the teeth at one point in the game prompting a dental reconstructive joke or two. Following Friday’s game, Nugent-Hopkins admitted to the AHL being “much chippier”, which is something everyone has known, but few had been willing to discuss. And it’s worth noting that Ryan, Jordan, and Justin have all taken their lumps in recent games. Eberle being the most recent incident with the knee-on-knee hit.
Colten Teubert is planning on being “that guy” in the lineup. He’s apparently going to be a protector of sorts. i’m not sure it’s something the team has discussed or if Teubert has simply taken it upon himself. Either way, he’s not shy when it comes to mixing it up. But it also shows the two-faced nature of his game. Because when he goes rouge, he has a tendency to lose direction. It’s a crucial year for Colten to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Is this the way to make some noise? Maybe he’s on to something.
The Barons were tight defensively tonight. But more than that, the defenders were able to move the puck quickly to the forwards. Not fussiness with the puck. Just quick, sharp, and determined passing. All along we assumed that the key to victory would be in protecting the net in front of Roy/Danis, but in the end it might be better suited for this blue line core to play keep away from the opposing forwards. Move the puck before they can move to the puck.
After the Friday loss, videos and soundclips emerged of Todd Nelson. He looked none to pleased. And he moved his team to be better. And that’s a step in the right direction for these Barons.
The teams playing OKC will compete at a high level. They aren’t ignoring who’s on that roster, and will likely want nothing more than to disrupt the “guys with the golden spoons”. And who can blame them? It’s gamesmanship at its peak. Let’s hope it’s done within the parameters set forth in the game.
Taylor Hall will be eyeballing a roster spot soon. Sometime this week (Monday) he’ll fly to Edmonton to get an okay from the doctors, then he’ll head back to the heartland and OKC. He’ll sign a historic contract within the AHL, and then suit up asap. This week we’ll get the debut of the Cannonball.