Texas At Oklahoma City Game One (Gr)(M)umblings

Photo by Rob Ferguson

Man, that was a close one. The Barons owned a two spot lead thanks to goals by Austin Fyten and Curtis Hamilton, and it seemed that they would again solve a problem like Cristopher Nilstorp. Then the tides shifted, Mike Hedden scored a pair including the overtime game winner, and the Barons lose game one at home in a quickened best-of-five first round.

My excitement quickly turned to fear as those three straight goals came pouring from the Texas-sized juggernaut that is offensive glory. A 2-0 lead felt nice, but once the game inched to a 2-1 lead it seemed impossible to see a scenario where the Oklahoma City Barons could protect a one goal lead with a lot of time on the clock. Of course they wouldn’t be able to, the defense faltered, and the offense seemed gobsmacked by the whole endeavor. The raucous start for Oklahoma City would, in the end, come petering to a halt. A 3-2 loss was afoot.

Depth is going to be an issue for Oklahoma City. Scratch that, QUALITY depth is going to be an issue for Oklahoma City. As you can tell from the lineup last night, there are bodies here, they are just young and incomplete.

Josh Winquist, slotting in on the top line with Matt Ford scratched, was well over his head in terms of what he saw taking place in front of him. He’s a sharp kid, no doubt, with some upsides that make me really anxious to project his value. However, he was thrown in the deep end of the pool, expected to do really good things, sorta struggled, and in the end was not the champion of the offense we needed him to be. Nelson will adjust, no doubt.

Darnell Nurse, paired with Klefbom, wasn’t entirely eye gouge worthy. The two, as a pair, played some quality minutes both early and late. Nurse had his shifts cut just short at times, most likely due to lingering illness, but he still lacks the pristine facade of a grizzled professional defender. That will come, but the raw nature of his game doesn’t bode well for the OKC Barons immediate future. Add Jordan Oesterle to the list of fish out of water in game one as well.

Richard Bachman was really solid. He’s learned how to recover rebounds fairly well, and he’s a goaltender, that given the right defense, could be a dandy. Struggling to protect your net with no blue line support is rough. His 30 of 33 night was highlighted by a 15 shot second period. This thing could have and should have been worse. Thanks Richie.

Any time you keep the Stars at a quarter pace on the power play you can call it a victory. On the flip side, the Stars really jabbed the Barons momentum on their own power play. Nilstorp was a clever gent when the Barons came knocking in the brief scoring chances on the power play. Desjardins decision to play Nilstorp over Campbell might have been the “x” factor of the night. All that to say this – the power play for OKC needs to get much better against Texas.

The game Saturday is a must win as they all tend to be in April. Yet this one feels important, and perhaps the last time we see the 13-14 Barons on home ice. I think Nelson prays vigilantly for an Arcobello return, and a Matt Ford “go ahead” status update. Those two things will help. I also think we might see some slight tweaks to the defensive lineup. Musil? Gernat? Both? Not sure they will make much difference, but when the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’. Right? RIGHT!?!?!

Game two is Saturday night, 8:00CT (adjusted for marathon weekend activities). Get your tickets.

Written By - Neal Livingston

Born in the great state of Ohio, now nestled in the middle America we call Oklahoma, Neal is the head writer & chief farmhand at Tend The Farm -- a website dedicated to covering the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.