It was a game that should have been a coming out party of sorts for an NHL forward line that should never have played in the AHL. With Anton Lander ailing, Ryan Martindale dinged up, and Josh Green still recovering from injury – it was a moment where Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle should have dialed in an incredible performance. Instead, they were existent in spurts, and at times uninteresting as the Rampage shutout the Barons power play, and the dynamo threesome. The San Antonio Rampage defeated the Oklahoma City Barons, 2-0, on Sunday afternoon.
I’ll not bore you with the details, because the short version tells the full story. The Rampage killed off five straight power play chances for Oklahoma City with what should be an NHL forward power play unit. On the flipside of the equation, the Barons couldn’t shutdown the Rampage power play as they were 50% on the night (2/4).
Also take a look at the shot totals, and whom was taking them. The first period the Baron took ten, the second, they took 9, the third they took 8. That number was headed the wrong direction all night, which is anti-Todd Nelson “pucks on net” street corner preaching.
But the Rampage themselves, who don’t normally take a huge amount of shots, played their opportunities perfectly. And indeed they’d end the night with only 24 total shots. First in the midsection of the second period, it was former Red Deer alum, Alex Petrovic, earning his first goal of the season on a power play shot over the high glove side of Olivier Roy. Then Colby Robak scored a late third period power play goal to nail the coffin door shut on the Oklahoma City Barons.
It goes without saying that the goaltending dual heavily favored the non-prospecty Dov Grumet-Morris for the Rampage. He’s not overtly fast, nor is he the most impressive goaltender you’ll watch mechanically. But he does the little things right, mainly covering rebounds. And when you play a team like OKC that will seal the deal if you give them opportunities, Dov was unwilling to give any.
This is also a shining example of what is wrong with the AHL scheduling. When a team plays three games in three days, the grind is brutal. Not only did the team play back-to-back 7pm games at home, but they had to board a bus, drive 8 hours, fall back one hour for daylight savings time, and play at 4:30pm the next day. That’s a tough schedule for anyone. And the Barons looked beat from the get go. Need further proof? Colten Teubert was your leading shot taker with six. And indeed there were a lot of dialed in, long distance shots. It wasn’t pretty, nor was it a coming out party for the top trio.
Between the first and second periods we were given a quick audio interview with Brandon Davidson. Davidson, who was stricken with testicular cancer recently, said that his procedure went well, no other treatment necessary at this moment, and that he was looking forward to beating this. He also mentioned that the Barons immediately flew in his dad to be with him. Nice touch. He also looked at the treatment and recovery of Phil Kessel for a roadmap to his own situation. In all, the report is good for Davidson. Kid is as resilient as you’d expect.
The Rampage are a difficult team to understand because of the careful approach they take to scoring. They don’t strike until they are ready, and you’ve given them the chance. This will bite the Barons in the hind quarters all season.
The season now takes us to Abbotsford, and the Heat are no lame duck. A Friday and Saturday set in Canada might be just what the doctor ordered for the Oklahoma City Barons and their top scorers. I full expect a rousing recovery.