Workin’ For The Weekend: Stars at Barons “Last Christmas”

Last Christmas I gave you my heart...
Last Christmas I gave you my heart…

There are fewer modern day Christmas songs that I love more than Wham!’s “Last Christmas”The holiday equivalent of a Rick-rolleverything about this song is fantastic. Let’s start with the video, which featured great hair, a snowy chalet, and heartfelt glances that occasionally meander towards the camera lens. George Michael, at the peak of his smarm, is charming and breathy and almost cutesy creepy (as only he could pull off). There is a fuzzy glow to the whole thing which was pretty common amongst video’s of that era. This only adds to the melodrama. Released the same year as Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, 1984 was quickly becoming a year of excessively memorable Christmas pop tracks. It’s also a year in which both Band Aid and Wham! donated much of the proceeds from their singles to various famine relief projects. But do-gooding aside, it’s a track about being sad at the holidays, looking forward to new things, being sad again, but always always relishing in the smiley happy synthesized beat. Glamorous and instantly recognizable, “Last Christmas” has been covered hundreds of times since 1984. From Richard Cheese to Jimmy Eat World, from the Violet Burning to the xx – it’s a song that’s equally as loved as it is despised. And that alone places it high in the pantheon of holiday season pop culture. Last Christmas – The Barons gave us 21 wins and 9 losses. Last Christmas – The Barons gave us the best goaltender in the league named Yann Danis. Last Christmas – The Barons gave us the league’s leading goal scorer named Philippe Cornet. Last Christmas – The Barons gave us one of the league’s best defenders named Alex Plante. Last Christmas – The Barons gave us the first place ranking in the Western Conference. Last Christmas was fun. It was a memorable 3 month run. This season has been memorable for other reasons. NHL lockout, NHL players, NHL fans – all descended upon the AHL in ways I never dreamed could have occurred. Even with the heightened play and awareness, the Barons have struggled a bit. A one-trick pony, if you will, it’s a team built much like the Edmonton Oilers in that it’s heavy on the top, and pretty, well, um, unsavory on the bottom. In an ideal world, where the AHL isn’t inundated with NHL players, this would be called “taking your lumps” as a prospect. But those same prospects, in this season’s version of the AHL, are beyond lump taking. This Christmas – The Barons have given us 13 wins and 13 losses. This Christmas – The Barons have given us two goaltenders whom have struggled greatly. This Christmas – The Barons have given us the two league leading scorers named Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz. This Christmas – The defense is sketchy save for Justin Schultz (who’s been sketchy at times of late) This Christmas – The Barons have given us 7th in the West, 4th in the South. This Christmas was fun. It has been a memorable 3 month run. Yet, it’s simply bizarre, and unsatisfying. But all that can change. Last weekend’s three-in-three earned 5 of 6 points. That’s remarkable. This week, with Christmas “break” looming, the Barons welcome a familiar foe in the Texas Stars. The Stars are 7-1-1-1 in their last ten games and have won three of their last five. For a team that struggled greatly last season, and appeared to continue that mantra into this season, they’ve turned it around in the month of December. Thus making things interesting for the rest of the South, including OKC. With four of the last 7 coming in an extra frame or the shootout, they are a team that can take you deep into the game. They do well in one goal games. They do well when being out shot. Their penalty kill has worked it’s way out of the basement. The power play is better than ten other teams. And in the end, the Stars seem to be getting their act together. Two centermen and two wingers complete the top scorers. Cody Eakin and Travis Morin have 18 and 14 points, while rookie Riley Smith adds another 14 himself. Leading goal scorer, Matt Fraser, has come on a bit later in the seasons with 10 goals, but seems poised to tear through the league as he did a year ago. Goaltending looks akin to Oklahoma City. A sturdy, seasoned guy in Cristopher Nihlstorp and a young, important prospect in Jack Campbell. Campbell has struggled, in the same way that Olivier Roy has for OKC, but Nilhlstorp is the go-to-guy of sorts and has a pretty incredible save percentage that’s near the best in the league (.918) despite having a 10-7-2-0 record. That’s a goaltender worth watching in the near future, even this weekend perhaps. The Oklahoma City Barons remain the Oklahoma City Barons. Huge NHL presence  with very little secondary scoring, and a defense that is remarkably shaky. But when they play well, they play very well. The loss of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to World Juniors hasn’t slowed the scoring of Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle. And as the Barons become increasingly healthy, their numbers have improved in a short three game arc. Yann is still the number one goaltender, no worry of that changing in the future. But with only two games remaining before Christmas, fully anticipate Olivier Roy to get at least one start in net. Expected Oklahoma City Barons Lineup: Curtis Hamilton – Mark Arcobello – Jordan Eberle Taylor Hall – Josh Green – Teemu Hartikainen Magnus Paajarvi – Anton Lander – Tyler Pitlick Dane Byers – Chris VandeVelde – Tanner House Out: Ryan Martindale (knee); Kristians Pelss (ECHL suspended); Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (World Juniors vacation); Antti Tyrvainen (arm); Philippe Cornet Colten Teubert – Taylor Fedun Justin Schultz – Nathan Deck Jordan Henry – Martin Marincin Out: Alex Plante (ill); Dan Ringwald (arm); Brandon Davidson (recovering)

Published 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. I kinda miss farming the Oilers.....

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