The Oklahoma City Barons began their first round playoff series with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the worst way possible. Jeff Deslauriers would let in three first period goals in only six shots, and the Barons penalty kill went 50% on the night. With three different lines scoring for the Hamilton team, the Barons would suffer a 5-2 defeat.
The Barons needed to do two things really well to have a chance in this opening round; unfortunately they did neither of those things on Thursday night. First, the goaltending had to be outstanding. With a goal scorer like Nigel Dawes, you knew the pace could get fast and furious. And it did. Jeff Deslauriers looked sluggish, and unprepared for what was happening in front of him. Second, the top line would need to shine. The top line all season for the Barons has featured Alexandre Giroux, Brad Moran, and Colin McDonald. This was the only offensive line that wasn't rejiggered to accommodate incoming Oilers. Yet, this top line only had six of the twenty six Barons shot on the night with nothing to show for it.
So as game one goes down as a test of futility, Coach Nelson and the crew have some work to do. The forward lines will be okay once things settle down. Even the Linus Omark, Mark Arcobello, and Teemu Hartikainen line played very well. And the Ben Ondrus, Ryan O`Marra, and Greg Stewart line even scored the first goal of the evening. It looks as if the defensive pairings might need some tinkering. The Jeff Petry and Alex Plante tandem was outhustled all night. Richard Petiot and Jake Taylor couldn't shut down the top Hamilton scoring line. Kevin Montgomery and Bryan Helmer had two very untimely penalties, including one forty six seconds into the game which led to an opening power play goal. Look for these lines to get swapped around.
The other story line that has a familiar ending happens to be the one in net. Deslauriers was pulled after period one in favor of Martin Gerber. Although the damage had already been done, Gerber was much more confident in net. With little patience for early goals, the team will have virtually no choice, but to return Gerber to the #1 starting spot.
With a day off on Friday, and game number two on Saturday, the Barons head back to the drawing board as they attempt to right the ship that is headed into rough waters. Keep in mind, that in the Hamilton Bulldogs 15 years of existence they are 8-0 when winning the first game in a playoff series. That's a tough hill for the Barons to climb, but one they can certainly overcome.
- A dreadful 3,292 saw the Hamilton Bulldogs play their home opening playoff game in Copps Coliseum. Ouch.
- Five Hamilton goals were scored by five different players.
- Game two will take place on Saturday afternoon at 2pm MST, 3CST.