THE TEAM TODAY: Off to Texas
Barons skate at home; get ready for a stretch of seven straight on the road
OFF TO TEXASOKLAHOMA CITY - The Barons practice on home ice on Monday prior to departure for Austin where the team will play on Wednesday night against the Texas Stars.
The game marks the first of seven straight on the road for the Barons.
"It was very important getting both games here at home, especially now that we're going for seven games on the road. Hopefully we can keep this thing going. It was a good two wins. I thought Saturday we played a more complete game and hopefully we can build off that," said Barons head coach Todd Nelson. "The guys have found some confidence and we're going to need it going into Texas on Wednesday and Charlotte on Saturday and Sunday."
Following the Charlotte games, the team then travels to Houston for a pair of games followed by two in San Antonio before finally returning home on December 11. Nelson said that having these road games will be great for helping the team bond.
"It's always good to go on the road early on in the season. This gives us an opportunity to bond as a team. We're going to have Thanksgiving Dinner together on Thursday. It's a good test for our hockey team," Nelson began. "Any time you on the road, you're hanging with the guys all the time, going into each others' hotel rooms, playing cards and getting to know your teammates away from the rink. That's why I feel the road is so important, to get away and get to know each other."
Taylor Hall agreed with his head coach.
"In the NHL, when you're on the road you just play games on the road then you come home and you're playing games at home. It's going to be a bit different. We have a long bus trip tomorrow and no practice the day before the game which is different for players like us," said Hall. "I always feel like I get more a part of the team. You get to know guys a lot better on the road. It's good for bonding and hopefully we can have some fun there."
On Monday, the Barons only had 10 forwards as a result of the significant number of injuries which occurred over the weekend.
Hall skated with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle, Haritkainen with Lander and Paajarvi and Arcobello, VandeVelde, Hamilton and Byers rotated in on a line.
"(Tanner) House and (Tyler) Pitlick we're monitoring daily," Nelson said of the concussions suffered by both players. "Antti Tyrvainen's also getting monitored (hand injury). We're going to get word on him to see how he's doing. It could be a situation where he's out for six to eight weeks but we'll decide on that once we talk to the doctors."
After mentioning that Alex Plante was also a bit banged up, the coach also touched on the team's prior injuries.
"Josh Green is still out. Ryan Martindale is still out. Josh and him are getting better but it's not anywhere soon where they're going to come back," stated Nelson. Green did hit the ice prior to practice today.
The Barons are expected to call some players up from Stockton prior to Wednesday's game in Austin.
"We have some guys in Stockton who are playing very well that we'll probably call up for some reinforcements as we move along here," said Nelson.
In eight games with the Thunder, Kristians Pelss has two goals and four points. Toni Rajala has 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 14 games to rank fourth in league scoring and tops among rookies. Philippe Cornet has 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists) in 14 games to rank 10th in the ECHL.
Tyrvainen is injured and likely won't play on this upcoming road trip but the AHL announced today that he was suspended for two games after his hit on Friday on Kevin Henderson.
Gabriel Bourque of Milwaukee was also suspended two games due to his hit to the head of Pitlick on Saturday and there could be more suspensions coming.
Taylor Hall remarked on Monday that he's starting to feel more comfortable with his surroundings in OKC.
"I feel a lot more used to everything around here. Hockey players are creatures of habit and when they get used to an area or a team it's a lot easier," said Hall, adding that he's enjoyed playing with his Oilers linemates from last season.
"I'm having a lot of fun playing with Jordan (Eberle) and Ryan (Nugent-Hopkins) again. It seems like we're getting a lot of chemistry and a lot of chances out there and that's what we were brought here to do."
Hall noted that the team performing better has helped make things easier as well.
"Any time you have seven out of your last eight points that's a great thing for our team. We know that going to Austin is going to be hard. They play really well in their own arena, and going to Charlotte is going to be even tougher with the team that they have there. They're doing really well this year."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com