Workin’ For The Weekend: Oklahoma City Barons Travel South To Cedar Park “Devolution Workin’ Man Blues”

One of my favorites has always been “Devolution Of The Workin’ Man Blues”. Somewhere between the Clash and U2, Mike Peters, Dave Sharp, Eddie McDonald, and Nigel Twist slay a song about state and union, religion and struggle, excess and poverty, hard work and chaos – it’s beautiful. And oh those crunchy guitar parts that seem to usher in the Seattle grunge scene so unintentionally. I love it. And you should too.

Workin’ hard, taking your licks, and weathering the storm are truly honorable sentiments both in real life and in portrayals of musical magic. Those same themes are also within the hockey we watch. The teams we cheer. And hopefully the attitudes of our favorite players.

Like The Alarm said its time for our team to be “kicking the dirt of our shoes”, because it’s time to go to work.

Boo to you Milwaukee Admirals. You gave us to of the most entertaining games I’ve seen in Oklahoma City in quite some time. Both games were fierce battles, with many breathe stealing moments. You came, you saw, you played, almost conquered, but were ultimately crammed into losing. But along the way the battlefield had some casualties. Several for the Ads themselves, and a host of others for Oklahoma City. Tanner House and Tyler Pitlick will sit out a week with concussion symptoms. Antti Tyrvainen will miss 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist. Add to the heap previous injuries to Josh Green and Ryan Martindale, and you’ve got a sizable chunk of roster on the IR. And important roster guys as well.

As the team licks its wounds, Cameron Abney and Toni Rajala come to the rescue. Abney, a recent reassigned forward to Stockton, gets whiplashed back to OKC. Rajala, a rookie pro who’s ripping up the ECHL in the goal scoring department, tags along for the ride. Both seemingly play important roles in the lineup, albeit at polar ends of the bench. Rajala is a good shooting, score first forward. Abney is a heavy footed man slayer. One of these things is not like the other.

And so the team moves quickly to Texas to meet the Stars. The last meeting between these two was pre-Taylor Hall, tight defensively, and gave us the summoning of a fighting Colten Teubert. The Barons won 4-2 on home ice then, but this Stars team has come to life recently. The month of November started with three straight losses against non-South opponents. However, they are riding a three game win streak as they’ve returned to divisional play. This should make the Barons a bit anxious.

It’s too early to judge the goaltenders, both of whom have played well, and played poor at random. Cristopher Nilstorp owns the starting role for now, and is posting a better SV% and GGA than prospect tender, Jack Campbell.

It’s also difficult to find the dominate goal scorer. Centerman Cody Eakin has 6, and sophomore winger Matt Fraser has come on strong of late with 5. A few others that are familiar foes sprinkle the extra offense. Tomas Vincour, Travis Morin, and highly touted defensive draft pick, Jamie Oleksiak. From top to bottom, this is a very capable Texas team. If the goaltending was better, and it seems to be heading that way, the team could rattle off a decent pre-Christmas run.

And for the Stars a huge test stares them in the eye as the offensive muscle of OKC tries to attack Texas at its weakest points – special teams. But the great irony of it all is that both teams have identical penalty kill rankings and percentages. Which will be interesting to see play out. Rarely do you get two teams whom are equally as bad on the kill, so the storyline quickly becomes, “Who stays out of the box the most.”

Tune in tonight for the first of three road games for OKC during the week of Thanksgiving.

Likely starting lineup for OKC:

Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi – Anton Lander – Teemu Hartikainen
Dane Byers – Mark Arcobello – Toni Rajala
Cameron Abney – Chris VandeVelde – Curtis Hamilton

Injured/IR: Tyler Pitlick, Tanner House, Ryan Martindale, Antti Tyrvainen, Josh Green

Martin Marincin – Justin Schultz
Taylor Fedun – Colten Teubert
Alex Plante – Jordan Henry

Injured/IR: Brandon Davidson
Healthy: Teigan Zahn

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.