10-6-2-2, 24 pts
#4 Western Conference
|v.||Oklahoma City Barons|
8-9-0-2, 18 pts
#12 Western Conference
November 27th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
The Barons may be in 12th place, but by the time these two teams faceoff again (only six days away), OKC has an opportunity to pass Texas based on how things go over that time. Despite an eight spot difference in the standings, Texas is only six points ahead of the Barons. OKC even has a game in hand to go with their two head-to-head matchups against the Stars this week. They can't be dismissed.
Linus Omark continues to lead the Barons offensively, putting up 10-8-18 and leading the team by six points. Omark is also second-worst on the team in plus-minus at minus-7. Only Brandon Davidson is worse at minus-10. It looks like a dangerous prospect for both teams to have Omark on the ice.
The big story last time the Barons blew through town was the return of Richard Bachman and Philip Larsen to the Cedar Park Center. Both are now in Edmonton. Bachman earned a callup and outplayed previous backup Jason LaBarbera to make the roster in Edmonton on a more long term basis. That means that LaBarbera is down in OKC, where he has yet to make a start. The former King and Coyote hasn't played in the AHL since 2007 with Manchester. He won both the Holmes (lowest GAA) and Bastien (goalie MVP) awards that season for his play with the Monarchs.
Laurent Brossoit, formerly of Abbotsford, made both starts this past weekend with LaBarbera backing up. If LaBarbera plays, he will be the sixth goaltender to play for the Barons so far this season just twenty games into the year.
On the Texas goaltending side, Cristopher Nilstorp is healthy, and I would expect him to start. Normally you would have to be excited about having your NHL contracted tender return to the net. However, Nilstorp has struggled mightily this season. He is 3-7-1 with a 3.18 GAA and .892 SV%. Allen York, the PTO goaltender Texas picked up on the Milwaukee road trip, is 3-0-2 with a 1.96 GAA and .932 SV%. He's yet to come away from a contest without points for the Texas Stars.
Convention dictates you have to play Nilstorp tonight if he's healthy because, well, he's the Dalls guy and he needs to be ready. But how long of a leash do you give him? Is this a struggle with nagging injuries that is keeping him down or is it something else? Those of us who watched him last season and are now observing again this season can see a change in his overall demeanor and body language. It's subtle, but the way he carries himself after a goal against or the body language between whistles is different.
What do you do about that? Maybe you start York and then give Nilstorp just one of the games in Grand Rapids. Maybe you don't. It's certainly something the team has to be balancing.
Stars injury/call up report:
Nilstorp, Nemeth (likely, injury)
Dowling, Hedden, York (likely, flu)
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey