I like to think that the Oklahoma City Barons found a heart. That Tanner House suddenly decided it was time to crash the net. That Teemu would use his extra hand to stiff arm opponents. That Taylor Chorney remembered which team he played for. That the coaching staff mustered the courage to admit they were handed an embarrasing defeat, and change what went wrong. That Yann needed to be stingy. To question the heart of a team is to question the individuals on that team, and the very root of who they are professionally and maybe even personally. And to say that the Barons found their heart, after getting lambasted for three straight periods on Thursday evening, is exactly how I'd describe the 5-1 rebound punishing the Barons put on the Toronto Marlies. My, what a difference 24 hours makes.
In the last 3 minutes of a lopsided win by the Barons, the penalty sheet looked like this:
TOR Acton, 17:53 - Fighting, 5 min
TOR Colborne, 17:53 - Slashing, 2 min
TOR Fraser, 17:53 - Roughing, 2 min
TOR Fraser, 17:53 - Misconduct - Continuing altercation, (46.5) 10 min
TOR Holzer, 17:53 - Fighting, 5 min
TOR Holzer, 17:53 - Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, (46.6) 10 min
TOR Rosehill, 17:53 - Roughing, 2 min
TOR Rosehill, 17:53 - Misconduct - Continuing altercation, (46.5) 10 min
OKC Abney, 17:53 - Roughing, 2 min
OKC Abney, 17:53 - Misconduct - Continuing altercation, (46.5) 10 min
OKC Grant, 17:53 - High-sticking, 2 min
OKC Grant, 17:53 - Fighting, 5 min
OKC Grant, 17:53 - Game misconduct - Secondary altercation, (46.6) 10 min
OKC House, 17:53 - Fighting, 5 min
OKC Plante, 17:53 - Roughing, 2 min
OKC Plante, 17:53 - Misconduct - Continuing altercation, (46.5) 10 min
TOR Gysbers, 19:51 - Hooking, 2 min (PP)
OKC Tyrvainen, 19:51 - Misconduct - Unsportsmanlike conduct, (75.4) 10 min
TOR Hamilton, 20:00 - Unsportsmanlike conduct, 2 min
OKC Ringwald, 20:00 - Unsportsmanlike conduct, 2 min
It was a rough finish for both squads as the Toronto Marlies tried to make a statement that was likely to the tune of We're Not Gonna Take It. But the Marlies had already taken it -- the Barons dished out their own five goal shellacking that nearly mirrored Toronto's the night before.
Scoring two goals in the first, one in the second, two in the third, the Barons were a completely different team than the night before. I'll not belabor the point, but that heart thing, was a whiplash change within a 24 hour period.
The game began with the Baron immediately addressing some issues. First up, the power play. In the first 5 minutes the Barons earn that man advantage. Ryan Keller fights for the puck with a huge shoulder hit on a Marlies player, he then sends the puck to Philippe Cornet on the right side. Cornet centers it to the streaking Mark Arcobello who tries to lift the puck over Scrivens, it rebounds, but he taps it in.
With some rough stuff peppered in between the first two goals (including a dangerous moment when Marcel Mueller gets lunged awkwardly into the boards), it was Teemu Hartikainen that addressed the next issue for OKC -- puck posession. And who better to display this attribute than Teemu, right? The Barons win a faceoff in the offensive zone, Teemu plucks it out of traffic, the puck gets cycled between defensemen, and Magnus Paajarvi finds Hartikainen in the center who one-times a dead center shot past Ben Scrivens. As the first period ends, the Barons find themselves with a 2-0 lead.
The second period was a tad slower, but still potent. The Marlies had at least four solid scoring chances, but it was Oklahoma City that capitalized on a defensive miscue. Bryan Rodney was able to hold the puck near his blue line, and somehow shuffle a pass to Mark Arcobello to the goal line, right side of Scrivens. He patiently holds the puck as Phillipe Cornet squeezes in on the left. The pass hits him on the tape, the puck goes in. The Barons lead 3-0 through the first two periods.
The third period was where Yann Danis had to be good. And although he was good, Will Acton was better at least for one series. Bumping a pass off the boards to himself, and then slicing in front of the goal crease from left to right, he's able to beat Danis' stick side. The Marlies appeared to be attempting a comeback.
But the Barons were able to notch two more in the third to keep Toronto at bay. A Chris Vande Velde goal that was put in after Magnus Paajarvi rocketed a shot off Scrivens made it 4-1, and then Ryan Keller would further seal the deal with an empty netter at the under 3 mark. Then this happened (FF to 5:08):
The Barons win the second game of the series, and make a statement in the same fashion that the Marlies did the night before. As both teams travel to Toronto for a three game series, including a 2pm start time on Victoria Day, things will get interesting. Will the teams carry over some of the steam let out in the last three minutes of this game?Will both teams be prepared after splitting the two in lopsided victories?
Friday night, Danis and the defense were very good. Whereas Yann still is giving up rebounded shots, the active sticks of the defensemen in front has proved healthy again. They eyeball each shot, and each player surging towards the net in order to protect the crease. This just didn't happen in game one for OKC.
The Toronto Marlies are still a very dangerous offensive team. They just got the Yann treatment. And that's how the goaltending will need to be if Oklahoma City has a chance to snatch one or two on away ice.
The lower lines for of Antti Tyrvainen - Mark Arcobello - Tyler Pitlick and Triston Grant - Tanner House - (whomever; Cameron Abney/Curtis Hamilton) were very persnickety on Friday. Playing an ugly, legal, and effective game is what will aid the defenders on the other end of the ice. They also add a scoring angle that few third and fourth lines posses in the minors.
In all, a solid performance by both teams. The Barons were just better enough to score five and not allow more than one. This series is far from over, and as it heads to Toronto things will continue to heat up.