Guys like Alex Plante are going to have to play tough to survive the Barons northern road trip. Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.
The Oklahoma City Barons, in the throes of a northern road trip, head to Hamilton, Ontario to face the Bulldogs in a game televised in Canada as part of the "AHL on CBC" package, and also presented in the United States on the NHL Network. What better way to celebrate the only nationally-televised Barons game than by opening a game day thread here at Copper and Blue. Join in the conversation as you check out the farm team battling the Hamilton Bulldogs today at 11:00am MDT.
The Barons opened the season with three terrible losses, followed by three dynamic wins. Suddenly they find themselves on a losing streak again, having been beaten by the San Antonio Rampage on Friday night, and by the Toronto Marlies yesterday afternoon. Much like the big club, the Barons find themselves in "feast or famine" situations far too often. Struggling too often on the power play and the inability to find the back of the net consistently has been maddening to watch. However, when the team rolls it becomes a thing of beauty. Alexandre Giroux, Brad Moran, Linus Omark, Teemu Hartikainen, and Liam Reddox lead the team offensively, but through eights games these five skaters have only mustered sixteen goals - not quite the offensive threat that we had anticipated, but we'll take what we can get.
Oklahoma City vs. Hamilton - 11:00am MDT
CBC in Canada, NHL Network in the US
In net, Martin Gerber is the number one guy, and in six starts he only has two wins. Young Bryan Pitton has only had two starts and has gone one for two. The goaltenders aren't fully to blame for the dreadful up and down play this team is experiencing. Once again, offensive fire-power has been sluggish at times and the defensive play too soft.
As the Barons fight through back to back Canadian market games, and the travel that comes with it, the stakes suddenly feel higher. The Hamilton Bulldogs are a well rested team. They have only played five games and posted a record of 2/1/0/2 to the Barons eight game record of 3/4/1/0. With the off-season loss of coach Guy Boucher and names like P.K. Subban and Cedrick Desjardins (just to name a few) to the NHL, the Bulldogs are a team that is still transforming. With that said, young up and comers like the Swiss-born, defensive scorer, Yannick Weber, have emerged to give the team the punch they might have lost. The leadership of AHL veteran Alex Henry and the quick rookie goaltender Robert Mayer make Hamilton a Calder Cup contender this year.
To say this is the most important game of the year thus far is certainly an understatement. For many Oilers fans this is the first time they'll get the opportunity to see their Oklahoma City affiliate play. On a stage as grand as the CBC and the NHL Network the pressure will be high, and the opportunity to look sharp has never been more important. After an uninspired outing against the Toronto Marlies, the environment in Hamilton will be equally intense. The Montreal Canadiens, known for their excellent AHL development, look poised once again to have a strong team in the minors.
- This will be the second AHL game broadcast on CBC/NHL Network; in the first outing, the Binghamton Senators defeated the Toronto Marlies 3-1.
- The Hamilton Bulldogs play a total of four games on the CBC/NHL Network this season. Second only to the Toronto Marlies who play a whopping seven games.
- Coming into today's game the Barons have killed off 31 consecutive penalties. That will certainly be tested as Yannick Weber is second in the league in power play scoring. Now if the Barons could just get their own power play going.
- Shawn Belle played a total of 150 games for the Hamilton Bulldogs over the last two season.
- Look for Linus Omark and Teemu Hartikainen to have breakout games. Both seem to thrive in the spotlight.
- Although Bryan Pitton got the start yesterday versus Toronto, it appears Gerber will be the starting goaltender against Hamilton.
- Friday night's Barons game ended around 9pm. They left Oklahoma City headed for Toronto at 4am on Saturday morning. They played in Toronto at early afternoon only to head to Hamilton to play a noon start time. What an exhausting road trip!