I’m not ready to say the swagger is back. Two games in two days against a really solid Western Conference opponent does swagger not necessarily make. It does, however, get the team headed in the right direction in the wins column. Defeating the Milwaukee Admirals, 5-2 on Saturday night, the Barons roared their way out of .500 play, and prepare for a month long road trip.
I’ll make this short and sweet. Why? Because sometimes the game recaps get bogged down with this shot and that shot and this hit and that hit. Instead, we can bask in the glow of a decisive victory, which hasn’t happened all that much this year. A three goal victory is something to celebrate.
Again, Yann Danis would be stellar. Stopping 35 of 37 shots, and keeping three power play chances for Milwaukee from transpiring. An opening period goal by Dan Bang for the Admirals was followed by up three straight goals from Oklahoma City with two of those on the PP.
Defenseman, Mattias Ekholm willed in a Milwaukee shot and subsequent goal in the middle of the second period to ease his Admiral teammates back into the game, but the Barons would strike back. Curtis Hamilton with his first goal of the year via a short hander, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the empty netter at the under one minute mark of the third period.
The Barons defeated the Milwaukee Admirals two nights in a row, but with the second being a carefully executed highlight reel. The 5-2 score reflected just how good the Barons were, both at even strength and even moreso with an extra skater.
Yann Danis. How good was this guy over the weekend? After getting a relief job on Tuesday (for Olivier Roy against Toronto), he has soared. By my count that’s nearly 7 straight periods of incredible goaltending. The Milwaukee series proved what he can do. He graciously thwarted away 78 shots, letting in only 3 goals. Yowza. Milwaukee isn’t traditionally an offensive team, but their shot totals proved they can and will give you some offense when you want it. Yann wasn’t having any of that. We might see less of Roy as Danis gets the hot hand and proves why he’s #1 on the farm.
What a night for The Nuge. Two goals and an assist. What we all know and love about Ryan is that he can score if needed, but doesn’t necessarily have to. He’s the compliment player when needed, and the goal scorer when needed. What a full range of motion his game has. And that’s scary for the opposition.
Justin Schultz gobbles another goal, and suddenly the kid has 21 points in 15 games. Dominate indeed. Nuge, and Ebs round out the top three in AHL scoring. The Barons are highly flammable. Too hot to handle. Now just win consistently.
The Barons are immediately tested as they’ll hit the road for road games. All seven of those games against South Div opponents (Texas, Houston x 2, Charlotte x 2, Rampage x2). All will be formidable opponents. The Stars and Checkers are all riding three game winning streaks with Houston chasing the Barons in the standings. You have to think they’ll need to split + 1 in order to make the road trip a success. I’ll predict 5 of 7 are outright victories. It feels like the little engine that could is finally going to could a little harder.
Injured in the game last night were Tanner House, and yet another Milwaukee Admirals player. Given the rough stuff between these two, you wonder how much of a toll it takes on both clubs. Rest and regroup time for both teams. And let’s hope it doesn’t spill over into another series. (I’m talking to you Alex Plante and Jordan Henry)