Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit lonely and you’re never coming round
Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my tears
Turnaround, every now and then I get a little bit nervous
That the best of all the years have gone by
Oh Bonnie Tyler, your time was eventually going to come when you’d get a mention in an obscure, minor league, Oklahoma hockey blog. For you, that day is today. And for us, the inspiration for this week’s game comes at the expense of our ears and brains that will be humming your glorious work for the next few days. Of course I’m speaking of the raspy voiced power ballad that was a mainstay on the pop charts in a plethora of countries. “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” is not only a great song, it’s a great anthem. The song is a two-way conversation between what could be a live-and-well woman, and her dead love’s ghost – spooky. At least that’s how some interpret it. But others, including the songs writer, assumed a more timely sentiment. Based on the love between Catherine and Heathcliff in the novel Wuthering Heights, the toxic nature of some relationships, between some people, in some places can cause an eclipse of the heart.
History lesson over. My mind hurts.
Bonnie Tyler could sell this song better than the greatest rock opera specialist. I mean, it’s the voice, the dedication, the melodrama – it is meant to be sung A) in the shower at the top of your lungs, and B) in the car when no one else can hear your tone deaf dedication to really giving the turnarounddddd, bright eyes portion the oomph it deserves.
I don’t need to further discuss this matter…this song is a classic.
*The word turnaround is used 20 times in this song. Turnaround – I get nervous, I get lonely, I get tired of listening to the sound of my tears. So true, I suppose. Now imagine for a moment that you really love something. Maybe a minor league hockey team. Sounds odd to love a group of sweaty people, but they indeed can break your heart (in a very non-serious fashion; other things are actually heart breaking and more important). So I ask you, Oklahoma City Barons, will you turnaround? I don’t want to listen to the sound of my tears or anyone else’s in section 210. I don’t want to know if San Antonio is more magical or wondrous than you. I just want to turnaround, and everything be okay. I don’t want to know if the best of all our years has gone by.
*This is the part where Neal over-romanticizes for emphasis. No one was injured in the turning around of the above paragraph
The San Antonio Rampage are last in the South Division. The Oklahoma City Barons are second to last. Guess which team is headed in the wrong direction? If you guessed the Barons, then you win a t-shirt of your choosing from Antti Tyrvainen’s closet (all of them are awesome, I’m sure). Of the five teams in the South Div two are trending down, the other three are on the up including a team they’ll face Sunday, the Houston Aeros. Oklahoma City, having gone 5-4-0-1 in the last ten games is overshadowed only by the losing streak of the Charlotte Checkers at 4-6-0-0 in that same span. However, Charlotte built up a lead in the South so they still remain in the top spot. For Oklahoma City, they’ve bounced around wins and losses prior to the long national nightmare that is a 5 game losing streak. This is a team that hasn’t won since Thanksgiving. Let’s not give thanks for that.
So, of course, the Barons will be tested again this weekend with a three-in-three that gives me the eye roll syndrome. Not only is it a three-in-three, but it’s a two at home, one on the road three-in-three. Those are the worst. It’s also against two South Div opponents, all of whom are surging in the standings. Barons be tested, indeed.
First up is a visit from San Antonio for a pair of games in Oklahoma City. The Rampage are rolling. And they are also rolling over the Barons. They’ve beat them fairly well in the four games played thus far. 3-1-0-0 favors San Antonio. So does the amazing goaltending. Jacob Markstrom has stepped into the spotlight, and has become one of the league’s best goaltenders as well as a Barons killer. Greg Rallo and Casey Wellman have been really good to their team when playing Oklahoma City. Both have four points. There power play hasn’t been great, but is getting better. And their penalty kill is solid. With 23 points, one win (and the horror of two) could instantly hurl the Rampage back into the South Division respectable range.
Houston has been as equally as unkind, and certainly a tad more potent than San Antonio. In five games, the Aeros have scored 17 goals on Oklahoma City. That’s way too many. Houston is a run and gun team, and they rarely lose when scoring first. If the Barons want to win, they’ll sting quickly and often. You can never have too many goals to score against the Aeros. Run and gun them yourself. They also rarely make mistakes. An average of 13 penalty minutes a game is really quite remarkable given how tough the checking and compete level has been through most of the early season. Shutdown Charlie Coyle. Shutdown Justin Fontaine. You might survive. And figuring out Matt Hackett is tough to do, and will continue to be a losing battle for OKC unless they crash the net hard.
Oklahoma City Barons Lineup:
Curtis Hamilton-Mark Arcobello-Jordan Eberle
Taylor Hall-Anton Lander-Magnus Paajarvi
Teemu Hartikainen-Josh Green-Philippe Cornet
Dane Byers-Chris Vandevelde-Tyler Pitlick
Out: Tanner House (concussion), Ryan Martindale (knee), Kristians Pelss (suspended), Antti Tyrvainen (arm)
Martin Marincin-Justin Schultz
Taylor Fedun-Colten Teubert
Alex Plante-Nathan Deck
Out: Brandon Davidson (IR), Jordan Henry (healthy), Dan Ringwald (arm)
A couple of things, but first…CURTIS HAMILTON!! Coach Nelson has always been a “throw them into the fire” kinda guy, and this is a particularly acute interpretation of that. Secondary scoring seems to be an issue according to the coaching staff (semi-agree with that) so to encourage the lower lined players, Nelson will roll things completely differently than he has all season. Hamilton will have really good linemates including a great AHLer in Arcobello, and the team’s leading goal scorer, Jordan Eberle. If he doesn’t succeed up there, hope might be quickly petering out.
I like the Taylor Hall line being on the second. I also like seeing Paajarvi on the right wing of Anton Lander. Let’s just hope Anton can play good hockey.
Another example of “throw them into the fire” is Philippe Cornet, who’s had limited minutes, and in that limited time has done very little worth mentioning. He’s capable (remember last season; remember this season in Stockton), but Nelson is forcing him to step it up.
Tyler Pitlick at the bottom is curious as well. He plays a tough game, but not a grinder style akin to Byers and VandeVelde. This isn’t a demotion, just a temporary give-us-your-all-in-every-situation moment for Tyler. I think he surprises in a tougher, hard-nosed role, but I don’t think it suits him in the entire arc of his future career.
There is a slim chance that Tanner House plays this weekend. That’s a good thing both for he and his teammates. Concussed for several weeks, a return this weekend would really bolster some defensive respectability at the center position. He’s also a really good penalty killer. That is desperately needed. One man doesn’t make things better, but his presence doesn’t hurt.
I don’t see Nelson going with anyone other than Danis on Friday, and likely Saturday. Sunday goes to Roy. But keep an eye on how Danis handles things out of the gate. He squeezes out some bad play, and Roy might get a go on Saturday. I don’t see that happening. Actually I see the opposite occurring this week. Danis plays well. Roy plays well. Both are due good games.
Friday is 80’s night in Oklahoma City. I’m. Excited. Beyond. Words. Rad!