Barons win 4-3; Justin Schultz now leads the AHL in scoring

Jonathan Willis
October 23 2012 09:14PM

Oklahoma’s power play had been suffering through a bit of a dry spell, going 1-for-17 over the team’s first four games. No longer. The man advantage exploded for four goals on Tuesday night, and by virtue of assists on three of those defenceman Justin Schultz has moved into a tie for the AHL scoring lead.

Game Story

It was all about the power play, on both sides. All four Oklahoma goals came in those situations, and two of three Lake Erie goals were scored on the power play as well. Ex-Oilers prospect Bryan Lerg – who struggled mightily with the Springfield Falcons but has since come into his own as an AHL’er – scored both man advantage goals for Lake Erie.

On the Oklahoma side, it was the kids leading the way. Schultz, as previously noted, recorded three assists but both Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle had three points of their own, while Teemu Hartikainen picked up two and Magnus Paajarvi one. Nugent-Hopkins both opened and closed the scoring for Oklahoma off passes from Jordan Eberle.

A shift in coaching likely played no small part in the win. Todd Nelson’s top power play unit previously had featured Hartikainen, Nugent-Hopkins and Paajarvi as the forward line with Eberle and Schultz on the points; Eberle struggled in the role and was switched with Paajarvi for tonight’s game. The result was one goal off a hard shot that just trickled in and two primary assists for Eberle, while Paajarvi picked up an assist from the point.

It wasn’t a perfect game. Justin Schultz looked as human as I’ve seen him and made some definite defensive mistakes, while Antti Tyrvainen started the game off on a sour note with a five minute major for spearing and a game misconduct less than three minutes in to the contest (Lake Erie scored on the power play).

Barons’ Three Stars and Notables

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent-Hopkins not only scored two goals and added a helper, but he’s clearly earned Nelson’s confidence in all situations. With defensive specialists Chris VandeVelde and Anton Lander sitting on the bench, Nelson chose Nugent-Hopkins to take the own-zone draw with 53 seconds left in the game and the Lake Erie net empty. This would be a better story if he’d won the faceoff, but he did have a good night overall in the circle and played his best game yet.

2. Jordan Eberle. He looked far more natural back on right wing on the power play. He made a very nice pass to setup the first goal, took a very hard shot from the slot that was screened by Hartikainen for his own tally, and then crashed the net and just tipped the puck to Nugent-Hopkins for the winning goal. He also led the Barons with four shots overall on the night. Eberle could have had two goals – he scored on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush with Magnus Paajarvi but the goal was waved off after the referee ruled that Eberle had kicked the puck in.

3. Magnus Paajarvi. He didn’t offer as much offensively as Schultz or Hartikainen, but he didn’t have the same defensive miscues as that duo, either. Schultz was repeatedly burned – he got caught standing around on the even-strength goal and made a couple of bad pinches that led to odd-man rushes – while Hartikainen beautifully setup Lake Erie with a stupid pass with less than 50 seconds left in the game. Paajarvi’s still too deferential on offense, too willing to pass rather than shoot, but he did pick up a post on a wrap-around attempt and did fine work distributing the puck from the point on the man advantage. He was also the defensive conscience of his line (alongside Ryan Martindale and Mark Arcobello).

Honourable mention: The kid with this sign. Seriously, it has to be Schultz – while he had a bad game in his own end he’s just crazy good on the power play. Three assists, tied for the AHL lead in total points… given the number of defensive defenders the Oilers have on the left side (Smid, N. Schultz, Sutton and Peckham) he’s likely going to mesh well with his eventual NHL partner and he’s going to put up a lot of points.

Dishonourable mention: The AHL camera guy. Anybody who focuses on a stupid mascot banging an idiotic drum for the first 10 seconds after every commercial break – while the game is being played – deserves to be hit with a stick (Disclaimer: this is hyperbole, not an endorsement of violence). In actual seriousness, it’s Antti Tyrvainen. The last time he played he got dinged for diving, this time he put his team short for five minutes thanks to some vicious stickwork. I know his role is to be an agitator, but he didn’t even manage to record 20 points last year and this sort of thing only hurts his own team (plus Mark Olver, the guy with a stick in the gut).

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 24 2012, 06:48AM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

I'm curious myself as to what Robin thinks of Schultz?

"grumble grumble has to be in the NHL grumble grumble up the backside of his critics grumble grumble knuckledragging mouthbreathers grumble grumble show me your crack"

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#2 RexLibris
October 23 2012, 10:17PM
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I've got it! The solution to the Paajarvi question we've all been asking. Paajarvi plays defense and Schultz plays left-wing. Done.

I am so smart. I am so smart. S-M-R-T...

On a serious note, while I was looking forward to Tyrvainen developing into an NHL pest, if he doesn't, it just means his roster spot and contract can be replaced by Reider next year.

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#3 50 in 39
October 23 2012, 11:22PM
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Damn it feels good to have the two best rookies in the two best hockey leagues in the world right now.

Lockout and arena garbage be damned.

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#4 dawgtoy
October 23 2012, 09:33PM
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Schultz!

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#7 KHR
October 24 2012, 12:16PM
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RyanCoke wrote:

#Shultzforcalder2013

#Schultzforcalder2014

Fixed it for you.

Now excuse while I weep in the corner for a bit.

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#8 Archaeologuy
October 24 2012, 01:42PM
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*Pulls out the Map of OKC to Plan out the Calder Cup Parade*

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#9 Reg Dunlop
October 24 2012, 03:52PM
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Anyone notice that there has yet to be a DSF response here? Proof positive that ALL arrows are pointing up for Schultz. Either that or he is still waiting for Justin to sign with the canucks.

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#10 Chris
October 24 2012, 07:37AM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

"grumble grumble has to be in the NHL grumble grumble up the backside of his critics grumble grumble knuckledragging mouthbreathers grumble grumble show me your crack"

lol....

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#11 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
October 24 2012, 08:45AM
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I'm betting Nelson is a "players' coach". I doubt he'd put Nuge out there that late in the game if Nuge wasn't looking at a possible hat trick.

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#13 bobbymac24
October 23 2012, 09:35PM
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Throw fists and not sticks... that's your job

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#14 bobbymac24
October 23 2012, 09:36PM
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Fail!

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#15 Wanyes bastard child
October 23 2012, 10:28PM
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I'm curious myself as to what Robin thinks of Schultz?

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#16 The Oilers Shot Clock
October 24 2012, 02:46AM
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Schultz is making bad defensive decisions because he keeps putting points up on the board. I think when he gets shut down for a few games he'll settle down a bit defensively as well. I think they are all wired to double down and let it ride a bit when the points are coming.

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#17 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 24 2012, 08:38AM
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What a great article to read to start the day. I knew that signing this kid was a big deal, but I'm only now starting to realize how big.

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#18 oilers2k14
October 24 2012, 08:48AM
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First off why is AHL Live more expensive than NHL center ice? Stooooopiid

That said , I am excited at thr future of our farm teams..is there a way to watch ECHL online anywhere? Even after this friday (when arenas get unlocked) I will continue to watch ahl in the future unlike previous years..maybe not for $7 per game..but there are other ways..

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#19 Woogie
October 24 2012, 08:54AM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

"grumble grumble has to be in the NHL grumble grumble up the backside of his critics grumble grumble knuckledragging mouthbreathers grumble grumble show me your crack"

cableguy = Brownlee????

That is pretty spot on!

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#20 Woogie
October 24 2012, 08:55AM
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oilers2k14 wrote:

First off why is AHL Live more expensive than NHL center ice? Stooooopiid

That said , I am excited at thr future of our farm teams..is there a way to watch ECHL online anywhere? Even after this friday (when arenas get unlocked) I will continue to watch ahl in the future unlike previous years..maybe not for $7 per game..but there are other ways..

arenas unlocked by friday eh? We can only hope but it's not looking good.

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#21 T.C.
October 24 2012, 08:57AM
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I paid for the game last night and the audio buzzed all night and the video sucked !!I wish the the ahl would fix the issues .I dont mind paying if it's a good product.GO BARONS!!!!!!!!

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#22 The Soup Fascist
October 24 2012, 09:11AM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

Schultz is making bad defensive decisions because he keeps putting points up on the board. I think when he gets shut down for a few games he'll settle down a bit defensively as well. I think they are all wired to double down and let it ride a bit when the points are coming.

Let him make the mistakes here. The lockout is the best thing that ever happened to Justin Schultz. Learning the pro game AND building confidence in the AHL. Kid is freaking leading the league in scoring!

Paul Coffey was an average to poor guy in his own end but still dominated games. Schultz will get better in his own end. I am not saying Schultz is Paul Coffey, but it appears he is already the best offensive option the Oilers are going to have from the backend. Put him with a solid veteran and let him wheel and deal.

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#23 Tha Legion
October 24 2012, 10:41AM
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@Jonathan Willis

I didn't put a lot of focus into marincin last nite how'd he look to you?

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#24 Dipstick
October 24 2012, 10:56AM
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Its going to be tough for Schultz to stay on the right side of the +/- column when they only score on the PP.

My pessimistic side is hard pressed to find something this morning.

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#25 RyanCoke
October 24 2012, 11:17AM
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#Shultzforcalder2013

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#26 Mantastic
October 24 2012, 11:54AM
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@Jonathan Willis

i agree, i think Marincin needs to spend at least his full ELC in the minors for him to develop physically. over the past few seasons he's maybe gained 5lbs? he needs to be packing on the adult weight to make him a truely impactful NHL'er. with the weight, should come the strenght.

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