OKLAHOMA CITY - For the fourth time this week, the Oklahoma City Barons practiced at the Cox Convention Center in preparation for a weekend meeting with the San Antonio Rampage.
"We did a couple of different things this week during practice," said assistant coach Gerry Fleming. "We had a skills practice one day, one day was a fun day and a couple of days of hard work -- today was another hard working day."
When the Barons take the ice on Saturday it will have been a full seven days since they last played in game action.
"I think guys are ready and anxious to play. With tomorrow a day off -- a travel day -- guys will be sharp for the weekend."
Fleming didn't feel that the team will be rusty come Saturday's contest.
"I don't think you lose your sharpness. Guys get a little more anxious to play games. You just get tired of going against each other and battling against your own teammates."
The Rampage are known for a suffocating defensive style of play. The Barons have been working all week on how to crack that shell.
"We've got to take advantage of the way they play. They sit back on defence and play tight to the house so we've got to spread out the offensive zone and create plays offensively and attack the net."
CLEARED FOR CONTACT
"I feel good. I don't feel like I'm getting tired out there or anything like that. I feel like I'm in shape and ready to go. I'm just getting my hands back," Pitlick remarked.
The winger also stated that while he feels good, it's up to the coaches on whether or not he plays this weekend.
"I've got to be true to myself and tell myself I'm ready to go and it's also up to the coach if he wants me in the lineup or not."
With all the additions and changes to the lineup, Coach Nelson speculated on Wednesday what his lines might look like this weekend.
"We might put Tyler with Josh Green and Curtis Hamilton," Nelson began. "With the absence of Nugent-Hopkins we're going to have to have a guy with some creativity so we'll probably move Arcobello up with Hall and Eberle. The Nordic line (Paajarvi/Lander/Hartikainen) can stay the same and Byers will play with VandeVelde and either Cornet or Abney.
Another player who will make his return to the lineup is Josh Green. Green said on Wednesday that he was looking forward to his first game action since mid-October.
"I'm full go right now, 100% ready to go," said Green. "Got some good practice time. We've been at home here for awhile so it's been nice to practice with the guys and get some good reps in. I'm anxious to get going again."
Ryan Martindale was also cleared for contact but may be a little further off than Pitlick.
HALL EXPECTED BACK
After missing practice this week, the Barons will have Taylor Hall back in the lineup this weekend.
"He had a pre-scheduled treatment. We knew that this week was a good week where we could have guys go through treatments and a bit of rehab and that's what he's doing right now. But, as scheduled, he's going to meet us in San Antonio," said Nelson.
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