Photo by Steven Christy
The Oklahoma City Barons defeated the Iowa Wild in the final two regular season games of the season. This also means that the postseason is upon us, and that the Barons have locked in their opponent.
Read carefully my friends, for the San Antonio Rampage are upon us.
In the scenarios that played out over the last two weeks none seemed more insurmountable than a first round, 2-3 formation, five game series with a team that has famously dominated the Barons. Keep in mind, the Barons and Rampage have played a whopping twelve times. The Barons have only defeated them three times in that same span, once in regulation. Woof. We will dive in to the details throughout the week, and leading to game one, but I already feel queasy.
You could look at the Barons over the last two months and weep salty tears but don’t. The team seems to have steadied an otherwise capsizing season thanks to goaltending – Brossoit has been really really good – and with some help defensively from the Oilers who again miss the playoffs and go full steam McDavid.
The sock lost in the laundry here, however, is coaching. Where Todd Nelson left off, Gerry Fleming has attempted to pick up. Gerry is a great coach, tutored by the best AHL coach in the last five seasons, and completely heralds the systematic approach to Oilers hockey that seemed to take shape with Nelson still on the farm. Yet I think there are roster tweaks, small moments in special teams play, and certainly late game momentum changers that he just hasn’t been able to solidify. That’s a problem. Not a big one, but a problem nonetheless.
In the end, Gerry will be fine. The Barons will play good, substantial hockey against the Rampage, and they will certainly make the five game early round a good outing.
Here is the postseason schedule:
Western Conference Quarterfinals – Series “G” (best-of-5)
3-San Antonio Rampage vs. 6-Oklahoma City Barons
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 23 – San Antonio at Oklahoma City, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – San Antonio at Oklahoma City, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 7:00
*Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 7:30
*Game 5 – Sat., May 2 – Oklahoma City at San Antonio, 7:00
Because of “building availability” the AHL offers two options (with higher seed the decider) when it comes to postseason play. The teams can play 2-3 or 2-2-1. While I favor the second of those two options, you can see that the Barons open their series at home with an early weekend game on Thursday of this week despite being the “lower” seeded team. They will break one day, play Saturday, followed by a huge gap as they head south for a Wednesday game.
Time will tell, but the Barons have only won a single game in OKC (February 28th) against the Rampage so home ice advantage is laughable in series like this.
The other sad eyes moment here is knowing that the Barons, at least if a first round exit occurs, will end their franchise run on the road. How fitting. Boo.
All games will be broadcast via 96.1 KXXY or via the iHeartRadio and Live 365 streaming services. AHL Live is offering postseason games, but pricing and such have yet to be released.