The @ MHH clan attended the showdown between the Lake Erie Monsters and our new AHL team, the Oklahoma City Barons, last night. OKC is the feeder club for the Oilers and were the Springfield Falcons last year. Going into last night, they hadn't won a game and looked to be about the same horrible on-ice product of previous Springfield teams.
The first period didn't do anything to sway that argument as the Barons and netminder Martin Gerber managed to give up two short-handed goals on the same power play (one to Greg Mauldin and one to David Van der Gulik). The Barons' power play is a carbon copy of the Avalanche in other words. Now I'm not saying that the OKC hockey community is savvy or anything, but after 7 consecutive passes on the man-advantage, even the noobs were screaming "Shoot!" Felt like being in a MHH game thread.
Entering the second period, the the Monsters' captain David Liffiton scored an even strength tally from the blueline that Martin Gerber still hasn't seen. It appeared to be another loss for the the Barons was shaping up. This being my second Barons game, I wasn't suprised. A few talented guys on the squad who try to do too much in the North American game tends to derail the little bit of cohesiveness the team has. Couple that with them only practicing together for the better part of a week due to late cuts by the Oilers and you kinda see the writing on the wall. The supposed 3,000+ in attendance (down from 10,000+ from the 6-1 loss on opening night) seemed pretty resigned to the loss as well. Brad Moran managed to score on a play I don't remember too clearly at about the 11 minute mark in the second for his first goal of the season. It gave the building and the team some life. Then LE took a dumb Too Many Men penalty that Moran converted for the first Barons PP goal in team history. The momentum shifted visibly on the benches and I started to get worried.
Entering the third, LE was the better team on the scoreboard and shot counter. They also carried the play for the majority of the game. But Moran wasn't done. He tallied again with just under 5 minutes left to play on a goal that John Grahame should be ashamed of. How do you get beat over your shoulder when you're 15 feet out of the net? Horrible positioning, that's how. All tied up with just over four minutes to go and a historic hat-trick for the home team. Neither team went into a shell and the chances kept coming. Then with less than two minutes left in the game, a Kevin Shattenkirk pinched to try to keep some sustained pressure alive and the Barons streaked down the ice. Highly-touted prospect Linus Omark go in on the Grahame-whopping party and scored the game winner.
Here's the quick and dirty for the Avs' faithful: The Monsters lost to a pretty bad team due to a combination of stupid penalties (they had 7 all told for the night) and eye-gouging bad goaltending. I'm not going to lie, I was praying I'd get to see Jason Bacashihua in net, and when I saw Grahame taking warm-ups I thought to myself "Self, this could be the first win for the Barons tonight." And then I thought "Why? Because some LE fans think Grahame is the SUXXORZ?" And I answered "Yes." And then I was like "Good enough."
Some game notes:
- Shattenkirk and the rest of the Monsters' D are really patient with the puck and make pretty good decisions on the breakout and in the O zone. If I was an Avs scout and needed a player to help the team this season on D, it would be Liffiton based on last night's game. He fought, he shot, and he scored.
- Shattenkirk was not paired with Cohen for a single shift. I'm pretty sure Shatty didn't take any PK time either. Not first unit anyway.
- Speaking of Shatty, he got a ridiculous high-stick to the face in the late minutes of the third and no call even though he may have lost a tooth. He was livid. The ref went so far as to demonstrate how it wasn't a high stick, just a stick to the face. The LE coach stayed after the final buzzer and "discussed" that call and another non-called elbow/boarding call in the 2nd period with the head ref.
- Ryan Stoa was a non-factor. (-1 w/ one shot). If you were holding out hope that riding a bus would motivate him, stop. It isn't.
- Mauldin isn't the biggest guy, but he plays big. If we need LW depth due to injury, he could easily hold down a spot on the 3rd/4th lines.
- Grahame is terrible. I don't know why he wears a catcher. He leaves his glove hand next to his side like a gunslinger for the vast majority of the play. He's not even providing net coverage. His glove-side post position is terrible, he goes to a paddle down on every stick-side back-door play, he doesn't move laterally very well and he's deep in his net. He did excel at screen plays as far as I can tell, but that could just be due to a propensity to drop early and often. He was a good communicator with his defenseman though, something Gerber is not.
- OKC got a win. Good thing too, because if this team doesn't start playing better, the crowds aren't going to come out now that the NBA is starting up.
- I want a LE away jersey so bad you guys...