Although the Oklahoma City Barons earned at least a point, their first game in Houston this weekend didn’t turn out as they’d hoped it would. The Aeros were ready, willing, and able to lambast Yann Danis with 13 first period shots en route to a sturdy win by Houston over OKC in a shootout.
Nick Palmieri shimmied his way through Barons forwards and defenders and eventually past Yann Danis top shelf. Justin Schultz, in a rare non-highlight reel moment, looked silly trying to stop Palmieri, and it was about as nice as a minor league “hard working” goal as you’ll find. In the first five minutes, the Aeros would take a 1-0 lead. But six minutes later, Justin Schultz would even the score. In typical Schultz form, he eased the puck just across the right face-off dot, where he’d then laser a shot around Aero’s goaltender Matt Hackett. The Barons and Aeros were tied at the end of one, and would stay that way until a victor was crowned in the shootout.
The second and third periods were heavy on the goaltenders. Yann would stop 16 shots for Oklahoma City, Hackett would stop 15 for the Aeros. As the dual wore on it was apparent that both netminders were hitting a bit of a stride. But it was the Barons who looked the most unenthusiastic by it all, and simply were out hustled by the Aeros.
In the shootout, Dan Byers and Toni Rajala (off a dandy swoop move) would notch goals for OKC, but Kris Foucault that sealed the deal on the Aeros side. The Houston Aeros would defeat the Oklahoma City Barons, 2-1 in a shootout. The Barons were lucky to even get two.
There was a 2nd period injury to recent callup Dan Ringwald that caused some disturbance in the defensive pairings. But that’s not entirely to blame for their wonky defensive efforts. The core seemed disturbed from the get-go, including a rare bad defensive game for Justin Schultz. In all, the Barons were just low on compete level, and that’s always a bad thing. Not challenging the heart of the team, but am challenging the preparedness mentally. Just ugly all around despite there being one regulation goal scored a piece.
Toni Rajala has a fantastic shootout move. This is why Rajala is so well liked by coaches in Oklahoma City – his creativity. He has the potential to be a less naturally gifted Omark in this regard. Is his ceiling as high as Linus, not right now. But he certainly has wowed enough people of late (including me) to believe in what he’s selling.
The Aeros and Barons both went 0/4 on the power play. Both teams seemed slightly confused with an extra skater on the ice. That’s not good for either squad. Coach Nelson mentioned it in the post game comments, but the Barons are now scoreless on the PP in three straight games. With the “NHL LINE” how is this even possible? Simply put, it shouldn’t even be an issue, but it is. 0/12 but still earning points in the standings is nothing short of odd. For as often as this team can drop the offensive hammer, that same offensive threat can go into hiding. I fully expect a different team tonight in Houston. They don’t stay down long. But can they consistently get better on the PP instead of running hot, then falling to pieces?