THE TEAM TODAY: Mid-Week
Eberle, Paajarvi and RNH look ahead to this weekend's Barons home opener
MID-WEEKOKLAHOMA CITY - After playing two games in an 18-hour span, the Oklahoma City Barons have been skating and waiting this week with a six-day layoff before the team's home opener this Saturday against the San Antonio Rampage.
"You have to definitely focus on practice habits," said Jordan Eberle of the long layoff between games, which is the norm in the AHL. "It's a little different than the NHL schedule. In the NHL you're playing every second day whereas here it's a weekend league, really, like the Western League.
"You have to maintain your focus and work hard throughout practice to make sure you're sharp."
Magnus Paajarvi talked about the adjustment to this type of schedule.
"We don't really get that much during the (NHL) season. Maybe once or twice, tops three. You really have to stay focused. We got a day off on Sunday then Monday we took it a little bit easier. Now today we went a little bit harder. It's good but it is hard to stay focused for six days so you have to be relaxed in the beginning then get mentally more and more into it. If you focus too much, you're not going to be focused at the game."
"I think we've done a good job of controlling fatigue. The flights, they can be tough but at the end of the day you don't want to outwork yourself in practice. We've done a good job of keeping them at a good pace but not too long," he said, talking further about the technical preparations for the weekend.
"We've gone over systems, we've gone over everything. We've got a lot of new guys here so I think we need to go over some stuff to make sure we're sharp for this weekend."
Eberle added that the results last weekend were a good starting point.
"I think any time you come away on the road .500 it's a success but I think we have a good enough team and we feel strongly we should have maybe got two (wins)," he said. "It's a good start for us. My line, personally, we got a lot of chances but just couldn't capitalize. But the goals are going to start coming."
The Barons winger didn't have any points despite his chances but sees his fortune turning this upcoming weekend.
"I felt a little rusty. I hadn't played a game in a long time but it was good to get a couple games under my belt and get a few practices then move on to the next weekend."
Paajarvi said that playing an evening game followed by an afternoon game the next day isn't something that any hockey player is not used to.
"It is hard but we've been doing it all our lives. You just try to eat as much as possible and (go to) sleep as fast as possible," he continued. "It is hard to sleep, that's something you have to handle but I think we handled it pretty well."
FAMILIAR FACE HITS THE ICE
Rehabbing from a shoulder injury, Hall skated with the Barons on Wednesday.
"They just keep popping up. It's nice," said Paajarvi of Hall's appearance. "We've got a lot of good prospects and a lot of good NHL players here so it's a lot of fun."
Jordan Eberle, who rooms with Hall in Edmonton and now rooms with him here in OKC felt that simply being able to skate with Hall in practice will assist the Barons players.
"Any time you can bring a prospect or an NHLer like him down it's good for everybody. He brings that speed and momentum and guys can see how fast he is. They want to work to be where he is," Eberle stated. "It's good to have him here and good to get new bodies."
Hall said he enjoyed skating with the club today.
"It's been a long time coming since I've been able to say that I'm on a team and it's nice to be a part of that atmosphere. That's something when you're a hockey player you miss. Being able to wear an OKC Barons jersey and feel that is nice."
"I'm just trying to get a acclimatized here to the coaches, to the rink and to the city and trying to envision myself playing for this team soon."
"That was a little bit different. Younger guys, but those were good practices as well. It was a little different since I wasn't on the team and didn't get dressed in their dressing room or anything. Here I have my own stall and I'm going to be a part of this team, hopefully, pretty soon. I'm excited. It's not the NHL but I could think of a lot worse places to be playing."
"It makes it a lot easier. It's a lot better than going to a team where you don't know anybody. There's a lot of guys that have played up with us and spent some time with us at camp so it's pretty easy to get acclimatized here. It's a young team and the coaches make you feel welcome."
"I've only been here since last night but the guys really like the city. They like the people and so far just walking here to the rink it seems like a really vibrant city and a nice place to live. Like Jordan has told me, and Nuge, they really like it here and I'm excited to get used to the city."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com