Big Ben Scrivens is ready to go. But are the Barons? Photo courtesy of Erin & her incredible gallery on Flickr. All rights reserved.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Hoodoo, voodoo, seven, twenty-one, two. Haystack, hoe-stack, hey do the hoe-ta. High boga, low joker, ninety-nine, a zero. Sidewalk, streetcar, dance a goofy dance. - "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8" by Woody Guthrie
If you listen long enough to the words and music of Woody Guthrie you'll notice that the man has two polar opposites to his craft. The timely, though-provoking rabble rouser, and the oft silly funny man. Both sides are equally as entertaining, and both likely bisect his fan base to a degree. But I'd argue that it is in the madness of these two extremes that we find beauty in the songcraft of Sir Woody. Because even at his most serious, he could always slap you in the face with a tongue-in-cheek chorus. And when he was at his silliest, he still made social commentaries that subtly caused you to pause, think and reflect. Only a handful of songwriters can pull this off -- Guthrie is a member of that exclusive club.
Much like the subtle hints found in these classic tunes, the Barons have a double entendre way with which they play the game. Sometimes they fall asleep, letting the opposition run all over them (Game 1). Sometimes they have beautifully drawn-up moments where they seem unbeatable (Game 2). And at other times, they simply try and try and try, but things simply don't look pretty (Game 3). Woven through those moments are players -- young and old -- that carry the responsibility of what happens on the ice. Many are familiar with how to overcome certain situations, while others look to those same faces as students learning how to navigate professional waters. And this is the beauty of the American Hockey League -- even in near disaster the ship can continue to sail. It's that mix of young and old, prospect and veteran that makes for high drama on and off the ice.
And so the Barons find themselves facing game number four down 2-1. They at times seemingly are outmatched and possibly over hyped. But we faithful Oilers/Barons followers know better. A team doesn't coast through a near 80 game season with one of the best records out of 30 clubs, and then suddenly earn the nickname of over hyped. But still, we've played three games, and it's apparent that the Marlies have been the more consistently better team over 9 periods of play. This thing, called consistency, is important to remember, and something the Barons have always been challenged to do.
"I thought our team played a strong game," said Barons coach Todd Nelson following Monday afternoon's loss. "We made a few brain cramps that resulted in two goals against. We have to clean that up and get ready for a big game on Wednesday." He continued, "I thought there were times where we did a good job at (getting in front of Scrivens) and other times we didn't," he said. "Toronto certainly did a much better job of it in front of Yann (Danis)."
Although slightly downplaying the lumpy consistency of this OKC team, Coach Nelson recognizes the good, the bad, and the Frattin. Mainly he's highlighting the play at each end of the ice. Who has more success directly in front of the goaltender? And that's how championships are won, in any league, and nearly any sport -- the small things mean the world. And I whole-heartedly agree. The Barons have to be willing to go into the rough patches of offensive territory if they have any chance at knocking off the Toronto Marlies consistently. Something they did in game two, but couldn't muster in game one or game three.
A couple of notes about both lineups for tonight's game in Toronto
- Nazem Kadri and Marcel Mueller are both out of the game tonight with undisclosed injuries. Kadri is the bigger impact player, but Mueller plays a valiant role when the Marlies win. We found out that the Marlies could overcome the loss of players, at different points during this season, but certainly in the postseason. For most teams, losing a Kadri would be a death sentence - for the Marlies, they reload.
- Josh Green is prepped and ready to go. After sitting out the beginning of the series, Green will return to the lineup. He'll likely be back on the top line with Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen. This pumps up the play making on that top scoring line, but it also helps with the bottom lines as either Cameron Abney or Curtis Hamilton will be scratched. Also back in, is Triston Grant after serving a one game, illegla check to the head suspension. He adds grit to the bottom lines, and again, might nudge out Abney and/or Hamilton. This is huge news for the OKC Barons.
A few nice tidbits from the AHL morning release:
The Western Conference Finals resume tonight at Ricoh Coliseum with host Toronto looking to extend their 2-1 series lead over Oklahoma City
Matt Frattin's second goal of the game with 2:02 left in regulation broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Marlies to a 5-3 win in Game 3 on Monday afternoon
Frattin (8-2-10) has three goals in the series and is tied for the AHL lead with eight postseason tallies
Ben Scrivens (9-2, 1.81, .937) stopped 25 of 28 shots in the win for Toronto... Magnus Paajarvi (2-8-10) led Oklahoma City with a goal and an assist in Game 3 while Bryan Rodney (2-7-9) and Chris VandeVelde (5-0-5) also scored
Paajarvi has 1-3-4 in the series, tops among all Barons skaters... Yann Danis (8-4, 2.34, .903) made 22 saves in the loss
Danis, who is 13-2-0 this season following a Barons regulation loss, has allowed four goals or more in a game four times this postseason, but has allowed given up one goal or fewer in seven starts
Toronto was 2-for-4 on the power play in Game 3 after going 1-for-11 in the first two games combined; Oklahoma City is 2-for-19 on the power play in the series.
The game starts at 6pm CENTRAL & 7PM EASTERN. For the first time all season, an OKC Barons game will be broadcast in glorious HD locally on Cox Channel 3/703HD. Huge win for local fans. Also check out the game on LeafsTV, AHLLive.com ($), 96.1 KXXY, iHeartRadio, and SportsJuice.com. Join us below if you're watching the game. Drop us your comments. And Go Barons!