THE TEAM TODAY: Back Home
After a split of games in Cleveland, Barons get set for seven-game homestand
BACK HOMEOKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma City Barons skated at the Cox Convention Center on Tuesday in preparation for Friday's home opener against the San Antonio Rampage.
After a split against the Lake Erie Monsters, Head Coach Todd Nelson tried shaking things up a bit when it came to line combinations.
"Right now I have (Antti Tyrvainen) on a line with (Mark) Arcobello and Tyler Pitlick," Nelson began.
"We put Magnus Paajarvi back with (Chris) VandeVelde and (Teemu ) Hartikainen -- that was our top line in the playoffs when Josh Green was hurt. They're pretty familiar with each other."
Dane Byers, Curtis Hamilton and Tanner House also skated as a unit while the extra forwards were Anton Lander, Kristians Pelss, Cameron Abney and Ryan Martindale.
"I'm going to try Josh Green with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle and from there, all the lines look good it's just a matter of finding the right combinations," Nelson remarked.
The head coach added that he feels he has plenty of options when it comes to line combos.
"With all the combinations we have with our players, it doesn't matter what line we have there's always something a bit special on each line. It's a good problem to have. We changed up the lines a bit just to see what the chemistry is going to be like."
One line which should be interesting to see how they work together is the aforementioned Tyrvainen-Arcobello-Pitlick line. Nelson pronounced Tyrvainen free of the back troubles which caused him to miss the opening road trip.
"He's good to go. Right now I have him slotted to play on Friday night. He's a guy that's a real big pest to play against," he said. "He gets under other teams' skin and that's what we're looking for from him. But also, he has a high skill level. Higher than people think. He has pretty good hands and he shoots the puck hard."
Tyrvainen said if the coach puts him in, he'll be ready to play.
"My back is feeling good and I think I'm ready to play this weekend," said Tyrvainen. "We'll see what the coach decides for me."
Taking a look back at the weekend's split with Lake Erie, head coach Todd Nelson felt the Barons needed those games to shake some rust off.
"I think Friday night's game was a very good hockey game. Both teams worked extremely hard. You can tell both teams didn't have the finish. There was a bit of rust. There was two-on-one opportunities both ways and both teams couldn't capitalize but it was a good game," said Nelson. "It was unfortunate that we lost 2-1 but we bounced back the next day."
The bench boss added that he felt the team played better in the loss.
"It was kind of funny, I thought we played better on Friday night than we did on Saturday but it worked out we got the 3-2 win on Saturday."
Looking ahead to this weekend's games, Nelson felt that special teams was a key.
"The focus this week is just getting ready, getting our special teams -- especially our power play -- clicking. It could have made the difference on the first night and we just got one on a five-on-three," stated the head coach. "Early on we have to get that clicking because the referees are calling it pretty tight and there's going to be penalties both ways."
Two keys to getting that power play working is Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who both emerged without a point from the first two games. However, Nelson was not worried by their lack of production.
"We talked about players who play up in the NHL coming here. There's an adjustment phase. It was good for them to get through those two games. We saw some really good things. They had scoring opportunities but it just didn't go in for them. We're not that concerned, obviously.
"I like their compete. They're working hard and they had some great chances, they just didn't finish on them."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com