THE TEAM TODAY: B.C. Bound
Barons practice one final time in OKC before heading north to Canada
B.C. BOUNDOKLAHOMA CITY - The Barons skated in OKC one final time before departing north for Canada for a two-game set with the Abbotsford Heat. Tomorrow will be a full travel day for the Barons as the team will fly commercially from Dallas to Seattle before bussing it up to Abbotsford.
After shaking up his lines yesterday, head coach Todd Nelson did some more minor tweaks preparing for the weekend's games against the surging Heat. Abbotsford has only one regulation loss so far this season and is tied for the highest winning percentage in the AHL with Springfield.
Nelson put Tyrvainen on the left side with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Tyler Pitlick. Mark Arcobello was skating with the extras while Anton Lander was in between Teemu Hartikainen and Jordan Eberle. The trio of Taylor Hall, Chris VandeVelde and Magnus Paajarvi remained intact. Ditto for Dane Byers, Tanner House and Curtis Hamilton.
Nelson said, with the home team Heat getting the last line change, he wanted to do his best to avoid line matching which is why the Hall-Eberle-RNH trio has been split up.
"One circumstance is that we're playing on the road. Teams are matching up real hard against us so we want to split them up so we can spread the scoring around," Nelson began. "The second part of it, with that, is that we need contributions from other people besides these guys. Playing with different guys on three different lines will hopefully kickstart some of the guys offensively.
"The third thing is, we want the guys to understand that all four lines can contribute and let's play as a team. That was one of the things that made us successful last year. We had four lines that contributed and that's the philosophy that I'm going with in Abbotsford."
Nelson did add that the three and Schultz will still play together on the top power play unit.
"As for the guys being totally split apart, that's not the case. They will be playing on the power play together but as forward lines we want to spread the scoring around."
The trip to Abbotsford will be a homecoming for Burnaby's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and White Rock's Colten Teubert.
"It's going to be nice to play in front of a 'hometown' crowd. A lot of the guys (on the team) are from the lower mainland or the interior so there's going to be a lot of family there and it'll be pretty fun for us."
Nugent-Hopkins talked about which family members will be in the crowd to watch him play.
"My parents, a couple friends, uncle and cousins (will be there)," he said. "It's going to be pretty good."
Colten Teubert is another of the Barons rooted in B.C. -- Hamilton, Schultz and Abney are also.
"We're going back to a couple guys' hometowns or pretty close to," said Teubert. "The fact we're going to get on the road, too, is good for us."
Teubert has a large contingent coming to see him play.
"My dad texted me and he goes 'we've got 30 people coming, no pressure' so obviously there's pressure there," he chuckled. "Us hometown guys we want to play good for our families and also it's kind of like a Battle of Alberta for the AHL so it's going to be a big two games for us."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com