PREVIEW: Barons vs. Texas
Barons open season series against Texas Stars in late afternoon clash
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PUCK DROP: 3:05 p.m. MDT
AT SATURDAY'S PRACTICEOKLAHOMA CITY - A familiar face skated with the Oklahoma City Barons on Saturday but the face didn't look all that familiar.
After getting a stick in the mouth by Houston's Mikael Granlund on Friday, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was wearing a full face mask and a yellow non-contact jersey. But head coach Todd Nelson did feel that RNH will be ready to go for today's game against the Texas Stars.
"He's good to go," said Nelson. "He got work done and he's going to wear a cage. We brought him out on the ice today in a yellow jersey for precautionary measures but he says he feels good and he practiced with his line."
Nugent-Hopkins did skate with Jordan Eberle and Teemu Hartikainen despite his yellow jersey to their reds. Taylor Hall actually was wearing the red jersey and subbing in as the centre on that line which is another indication that Nuge will be good to go today.
"It's looking pretty good right now," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I skated out there today and felt good. I've got to wear a cage for now but I'm feeling good."
The incident was simply a stroke of bad luck for Nugent-Hopkins.
"It was off the face-off there, I was just going back to my position on the half-wall and Granlund's stick just came flying," he said. "I don't know if he just lost control or what but he swung his stick around and it caught me right in the face and hit me directly on the teeth."
RNH went to the dressing room for further attention and then ended up going to a nearby hospital.
"(The teeth) were pushed pretty far back and one is chipped pretty good but he was able to pull them back into place then put a brace on to hold them in place now."
Considering how bad it did turn out, if Nugent-Hopkins was not wearing a mouthguard it could have turned out much worse.
"It's a really good thing I was wearing a mouth guard or else my teeth probably would have just shattered. It's good that I get to keep all my teeth -- for now, at least."
Once again, Coach Nelson has shaken up the lines for the game today.
Mark Arcobello is centring a line with Magnus Paajarvi and Tyler Pitlick. Dane Byers is skating on the left side with Chris VandeVelde and Tanner House. Also, Antti Tyrvainen draws back in and will play with Anton Lander and Kristians Pelss.
The game will be Tyrvainen's first since Tuesday against Lake Erie when he received a spearing major and game misconduct on his first shift.
"It's a big opportunity for me," said Tyrvainen of getting back in the lineup today. "I'm ready to go tomorrow."
The extra skaters are Ryan Martindale and Curtis Hamilton.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
LAST 10: Texas 3-3-0-0; Oklahoma City 3-3-0-0
Season Series: This is the first regular season meeting of the season between Texas and Oklahoma City. Last season, Oklahoma City won eight of 10 meetings between the two sides, including each of the last six. Texas won the season opener for both squads last year by a score of 7-0 and a week later, the Barons returned the favour with a 10-1 shellacking of the Stars.
Big Story: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed most of last game for the Barons after getting a stick in the mouth courtesy of Mikael Granlund. However, after several hours of surgery after his teeth were pushed back, RNH skated on Saturday with a full cage and both he and head coach Todd Nelson said he was ready to go for today's game.
Stars: Texas opened the regular season with back-to-back wins against San Antonio and Charlotte. They defeated the Rampage 2-1 in their season opener in San Antonio then the very next night returned home where they defeated the Checkers 4-3 in a shootout.
However, the Stars followed that up with three big losses, falling 5-1 in Houston and then 5-3 at home to those same Aeros. Lake Erie then blanked the Stars 4-0. The Stars righted the ship with a 3-1 win at home against Milwaukee this past Wednesday.
Barons: The Barons have been in a win-one-lose-one situation so far this season for the most part. Their only two-game win streak came during their second and third games of the campaign. OKC continues their stretch of five straight against Texas-based division rivals hoping for a chance to start making their move in the standings.
Who's Hot: Former Oil King Tomas Vincour has five points in his last five games. ... Cody Eakin leads the Stars with six points in six games this season and is +4. ... Justin Schultz has a point in each of Oklahoma City's six games this season. His six-game point-scoring streak (during which he has 10 points) is the most in the AHL this season, tied with Connecticut's Kyle Jean.
Injury Report: Josh Green (ribs) is out. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (mouth) is probable.
Puck Drop: The Barons have the 27th-ranked penalty kill in the AHL at 72.4% but one of the teams worse than them is the Stars, who are a league-worst 65.2%. ... Both Texas and Oklahoma City have scored the first goal in a game only two times this season. OKC has a win and a loss in that scenario and Texas is 2-0.
- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com