The Oklahoma City Barons have their backs against the wall this afternoon as their series with the Hamilton Bulldogs shifts back to Southern Ontario where no doubt people will want to spend their Easter Sunday cheering Montreal's prospects on to the second round of the playoffs. As for the folks who show up, I can only hope they leave disappointed... unless of course one of you Ontario Oilfans is going out to the game!
The series has been quite low-scoring to this point, with the Barons scoring just 2.0 goals per game and allowing just 2.2 goals per game after scoring 3.1 and allowing 2.9 during the regular season. Of the nine players still on the Barons' roster who scored 0.5 points per game in at least 20 regular season games - Alexandre Giroux, Brad Moran, Colin McDonald, Teemu Hartikainen, Linus Omark, Bryan Helmer, Jeff Petry, Anthony Aiello, and Mark Arcobello - only Linus Omark has more than two points in the series, and he has just three. If the Barons hope to win, they're going to need more offense out of their top guys.
The other thing they'll need to do is find a way to make a new line beat them. The top line, led by Nigel Dawes, is destroying the Barons so far in the series. With six points, Dawes has been in on more than half of Hamilton's goals. In the three Hamilton wins, Dawes has three goals and two assists. In the two losses, he has just one assist. If the Barons can shut down Dawes, they'll have a good chance at winning the game.
In order to win the series, the Barons will need to win two games in a row on the road. During the regular season, the club went 22-18 on the road, which is a pretty solid record, and should give them some confidence despite losing the first two games.