Barons vs. Bulldogs - Game 5 Preview
Oklahoma City looks to pull ahead in North Division Semi-Final series vs. Hamilton
AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oklahoma City Barons and Hamilton Bulldogs meet tonight for Game 5 - a crucial one for both teams as the winner puts the loser to the brink of elimination.
"We've ourselves in a position now where it's a series and game fives are always pivotal. The thing is, we're approaching this game just like we were for game three and four. We'd like to have it, to give ourselves a couple of cracks at it in Hamilton," said head coach Todd Nelson.
The coach went on to say that he didn't think the team quite had it in the morning skate today but hopes that's not an indication of what's to come this evening.
"I think they seem a bit relaxed. As for practice, it wasn't as intense as it was before but you can't measure off a pre-game skate. Sometimes you have a great pre-game skate then you lay an egg but it always makes a coach kind of nervous."
The lineup for tonight will be exactly the same as last game with the team rolling with the following lines:
Giroux - Moran - McDonald
Hartikainen - Arcobello - Omark
Stewart - O'Marra - Stortini
Tremblay - VandeVelde - Ondrus
Petry - Aiello
Petiot - Taylor
Plante - Helmer
"Same lineup tonight, what we've been going with, unless we have some surprises throughout the afternoon," said Nelson.
LOOKING FOR MORE THAN GAME 4
Despite their most lopsided victory of the series last game at 5-2, Nelson felt that it was not the team's best effort of the series.
"I'd like to see us have more energy than we did in game four. Game three is a game we want to tailor ourselves after. I think we had great energy, we played physical even though it was a 2-0 game. We didn't score until late but we kept on coming," he said.
As for what to expect tonight, Nelson felt it was going to be a heated battle.
"I think it's going to be the most intense game of the series for obvious reasons. Both teams want to get it and we have to go out and be physical," he began. "I thought Hamilton did a good job against us early in game four by getting pucks in deep and it means we have to manage the puck better to ensure we're not turning the puck over and force them to come 200 feet."
One big reason for the team's five-goal outburst in the fourth game was the fact they were able to get goals at key moments by the third and fourth lines.
"We're just playing physical out there, getting pucks in deep," said Ryan O'Marra of his line with Greg Stewart and Zack Stortini. "We're not doing anything fancy, pounding bodies, making them pay. Nobody gets off the hook when we're out there."
Hunter Tremblay has played with Chris VandeVelde and Ben Ondrus as well as spending plenty of time on the penalty kill.
It's always important to be able to use your depth, especially as a series goes on. We're in game five here tonight and will be going back to Hamilton," Tremblay noted. "As each game goes on and the series gets longer it gets more and more important to use every line we've got."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OKC BARONS GAME NOTES
OVERVIEW: The Barons and Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens) continue their best-of-7, first-round Calder Cup playoff series with Game 5 at the Cox Convention Center. This is the final game of this series to be contested in OKC.
The series is even at 2-2, with the home team winning each game so far. The Barons prevailed in the most recent game on Wednesday, 5-2. Game 6 is Sunday at 3 pm CDT in Hamilton, with Game 7 if necessary Monday night at 6:30 central.
OFF THE TOP: Dating to their final 2 games of the regular season, the Barons have won a season-high 4 straight at home. Their longest home winning streak within the regular season was 2 games, accomplished 4 times. Wednesday’s 5-2 win halted the Barons’ streak of 3 straight home shutouts.
Until Ian Schultz scored at 10:29 of the opening period Wednesday, Barons goaltenders had gone 192:54 without surrendering a goal at the Cox Center. Jeff Deslauriers posted consecutive shutouts in the final regular season home games Apr. 1-2 vs. Rockford and Texas and Martin Gerber blanked the Bulldogs 2-0 in Tuesday’s Game 3.
MINUTE DETAILS: Martin Gerber went the equivalent of more than 5 periods without allowing goal in this series from Nigel Dawes’ tally 1:03 into Saturday’s second period until Ian Schultz scored at 10:29 of Wednesday’s first. Gerber’s shutout streak lasted 109 minutes, 26 seconds.
POWER PLAY CONNECTS: Mark Arcobello’s goal from the point on the power play at 19:34 of Wednesday’s second period was OKC’s first man advantage goal of the series and first against Hamilton all season counting the 2 regular-season games between the clubs. In a series featuring numerous abbreviated power plays because of overlapping penalties, the Barons are 1-for-19 in the playoffs and 1-for-37 against Hamilton including the regular season.
Hamilton is 4-for-24 this series on the power play, but 1-for-21 since connecting on their first 3 opportunities in the series opener Apr. 14. OKC has killed off 13 straight Hamilton power plays spanning the past 2 games plus the final Bulldogs chance on Saturday.
SERIES SNIPPETS: OKC has out-scored the opposition in its last 4 home games (2 in the playoffs and 2 in the regular season) by a combined margin of 16-2...Hunter Tremblay’s goal in the first period Wednesday was his first as a professional...he played 3 games down the stretch of the regular season and the past 3 playoff games...OKC has scored first in the last 3 games of the series but their 3-2 lead after 2 periods Wednesday was their first lead at an intermission this series.
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