Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oklahoma City Barons Preview Game 1 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs

Tonight marks the first playoff game in Oklahoma City Barons history, coming in their first season of existence. Earning themselves a spot with the AHL's crossover rule, the Barons move to the Northern Division to take on the division winning Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL affiliate to the Montreal Canadiens. The winner of this series will go on to take on the winner of the series involving the Lake Erie Monsters(Colorado Avalanche) and Manitoba Moose(Vancouver Canucks).

The Barons enter tonight, having back some major pieces to their offense. Linus Omark, Teemu Hartikainen, Chris VandeVelde, Ryan O'Marra, and Jeff Petry all return after spending a good amount of time in the NHL. Coach Todd Nelson said yesterday on Oilers Lunch that they were trying out some lines with them. With the obvious line of Alexandre Giroux, Brad Moran, and Colin McDonald, the lines that were mentioned yesterday were

Omark-Arcobello-Hartikainen
Stewart-O'Marra-Ondrus
Kytnar-CVV-House
Cornet-Stortini-Tremblay

Whether or not those will be the lines tonight will remain to be seen, but I'd say the first two would be pretty good bets. The Stewart-O'Marra-Ondrus line has seen some time together at various points of the season. Nelson also mentioned the D-pairs that they were running in practice were

Petiot-Taylor
Petry-Plante
Montgomery-Helmer
Marincin-Teubert

Nelson mentioned putting Petiot and Taylor out as much as possible against Hamilton's Nigel Dawes line, something that I think will work out very well. I'm still sure that they'll run Petry with Helmer and keep Teubert and Plante together, but we'll see how that goes.


Photo © Candace Riley


One thing that interested me was seeing how much playoff experience each team had. Looking at the Barons roster, 11 players have had playoff experience in the NHL, AHL, SEL, or KHL. 7 forwards have combined for 2 NHL, 4 KHL, 232 AHL, and 33 SEL playoff games. 3 defensemen have combined for 6 NHL and 161 AHL playoff games. Martin Gerber is the lone goalie with playoff experience, having played in 12 NHL and 25 SEL playoff games. The numbers do get skewed a little bit, as the majority of the AHL games come from Alexandre Giroux(112 AHL) and Bryan Helmer(138 AHL, 6 NHL). When you take their games out of the AHL totals, you go from 393 games to 143 games among 9 players.

Going to the Bulldogs, the majority of their playoff experience came from their run last season, ending in the conference finals as they lost to the Texas Stars. They have 18 players total with 268 AHL, 20 NHL, and 37 SEL playoff games combined. 11 forwards combine for 154 AHL, 2o NHL, and 21 SEL playoff games. The biggest thing that may work in the Barons favor, four defensemen have combined for 75 AHL and 16 SEL playoff games, while their 3 goalies have combined for 39 AHL playoff games.


Referees: Dave Lewis and Marcus Vinnerborg; Linesmen: Kevin Hastings and Jesse Wilmot

Puck drops at 7:30 Eastern/6:30 Central. If you're willing to lay down the money, you can watch the game for $9.99 on AHL Live or purchase both the first and second round for just the Barons for $39.99. You can also listen on KXXY 96.1. In Canada, you can try this one or this one. No guarantees on either of those two working, but I've heard promising things. You can also follow along on my twitter account, @AHLBarons.

-Written by Eric Rodgers-

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