The last three games between the Rampage and Barons have gone into overtime. If you haven't been paying attention, those OT games have greatly favored the Barons (hint: all three of them to be exact), and one player in particular with the initials CVV. As we eyeball Game 5, again in San Antonio, the Barons have a chance to end the series, meet the Marlies in the West Finals, and further put their stamp on a remarkable American League season.
I'll take the time to rewind the clock about 24 hours because Game 4 was an interesting monster. On paper, the Rampage should have won that game. They outshot and outchanced the Barons through two periods, but were stoned by Yann Danis on a consistent basis. That's the Yann we've come to know and love and cherish.
The trending line for defense has been improving for the Barons. Dan Ringwald, Dylan Yeo, Alex Plante, Bryan Helmer, and even Taylor Chorney and Bryan Rodney have begun to hit a consistent stride that harkens back to the Barons of old, circa Christmas time (minus Brodney; misspelling intended). But it's the Rampage who've struggled, and at the wrong times. The only Rampage defender above even in the +/- department is Michael Caruso with +1. Colby Robak is at -5, Sean Sullivan is a -3, Alex Petrovic is a -3, and few others are hovering in that range as well. And the problems come mostly at even strength and late in the game. Sometimes it's a miscommunication on who-has-whom, sometimes it's bad commitment, sometimes it's merely slacking off -- it's been bad for San Antonio defenders.
Jacob Markstrom is a fantastic netminder, and has taken the brunt of punishment when giving up those late period and OT goals by the Barons. Yet he continues to be really good, and hopefully overcomes the mess that takes place in front.
So what can we expect tonight? Two things. A desperate Rampage team, and an anxious Barons one.
Danis has found a groove. Hunter Tremblay has been fantastic pressing the puck offensively.Tyler Pitlick has been studly on the boards. Chris Vande Velde has been clutchtastic late in the game. Alex Plante has been sturdy. Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander, and Teemu Hartikainen have proven their high hockey smarts. And so the inevitable seems even closer as OKC looks to continue its road dominance and surge towards the West Finals.
Likely Starting Lineup:
(key issue will be Josh Green. In or out?)
Magnus Paajarvi-Josh Green-Teemu Hartikainen
Hunter Tremblay-Mark Arcobello-Tyler Pitlick
Philippe Cornet-Anton Lander-Ryan Keller
Antti Tyrvainen-Chris Vande Velde-Tanner House
Taylor Chorney-Bryan Helmer
Bryan Rodney-Dan Ringwald
Dylan Yeo-Alex Plante
Scratches: Martin Marincin, Colten Teubert, Tyler Bunz, Kirill Tulupov, Curtis Hamilton, Andrew Lord, Ryan Martindale, Kevin Montgomery, Triston Grant.
The game can be heard, beginning at 7:00pm, on 96.1 KXXY, iHeartRadio.com, and SportsJuice.com. Go Barons!