AGD: Baby Battle of Alberta Part 1

Kent Wilson
November 09 2012 02:11PM

 

Time: 8:00pm MST

Location: Abbotsford Entertainment Sports Complex

Broadcast: abbotsfordheat.com, teamradio.ca

Still no NHL hockey of course, but that doesn't mean the Battle of Alberta is dead. Tonight, the Heat play the first game of a back-to-back series against the Oklahoma City Barons, Edmonton's AHL affiliate. Both games are in Abbotsford are are sold out affairs.

Record-wise, the Barons struggled a bit in the early going, managing a medicore 5-4-1 record through the first 10 games. That said, they boast an intimidating line-up of future stars including current AHL lealding scorer Justin Schultz, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Teemu Hartikainen are also expected to be on the parent club when the NHL returns, while Anton Lander spent much of the season as a 4th line center for Edmonton last year.

As discussed yesterday, everything has gone right for Abbotsford so far this year. The PP is potent, the PK is nigh unbeatable and the club is scoring on more than 13% of their shots on net. The Heat have banked a lot of points as a result and a re league leader in almost every category heading into this weekend's action. That said, it's clear they will need to strive to improve in a number of areas, particularly shot generation, if they want the good times to continue.

The Line-up

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Ryan Pinder noted on twitter today that Paul Byron is ready to return to the active roster (Greg Nemisz isn't even skating yet, however). Troy Ward doesn't share his line combinations before games, but Pinder says the coach suggested Byron may skate with Krys Kolanos and Dustin Sylvester.

  • Baertschi - Walter - Horak
  • Kolanos - Byron - Sylvester
  • Aliu - Reinhart - Street
  • Olson - Laing - Ruesegger

  • Brodie - Piskula
  • Breen - McCarthy
  • Callahan - Lamb

  • Taylor

With the inclusion of Byron, the Heat have two legit scoring lines and a decent two-way third unit as well (assuming Street lands there). Horak's hot streak has seen him elevated to the first line with Baertschi and Walter while Dustin Sylvester gets the slight bump downwards.

It's anyone's guess how the bottom-six actually turns out. My lines are an approximation based on previous games, although the need to constantly shuffle vets in and out of the line-up makes it a bit of a fools errand.

The Opponent

Despite all their firepower, the Barons have failed to put together any kind of consistent win streak so far. As a result, Todd Nelson has shuffled his lines heading into the weekend, spreading the attack across three of the four forward units:

  •  Hall - VandeVelde - Paajarvi-Svensson
  • Hartikainen - Lander - Eberle
  • Tyravainen - Nugent-Hopkins - Pitlick
  • Byers - House - Hamilton

  • Plante - Fedun
  • Schultz - Ringwald
  • Teubert - Zahn

  • Danis

"Teams are matching up real hard against us, so we want to split them up so we can spread the scoring around...We need contributions from other people besides these guys. We want the guys to understand that all four lines can contribute and 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.”

That's Todd Nelson via the Oilers official site, explaining why he has his big guns spread throughout the roster.

Not included are Hamilton, Ryan Martindale and Anton Lander for various injury/illness reasons.

On the back-end, OKC is just okay (outside of the phenom Schultz). Plante and Teubert are former first rounders, but continue to struggle to justify that lofty draft ranking. Neither is overly mobile or good with the puck on their sticks, although Teubert has been getting some good reviews for his physical game this year. Still, once you get past Schultz, it's certainly not an all-star group and probably represents the team's biggest weakness.

Yann Danis might get the call in net, although he's been abysmal through his first six starts (likely the main reason for the Barons so-so record) with just an 0.895 SV% so far. Danis is an established veteran goalie who has put up good numbers in the AHL previously (two straight seasons of 0.924) so he should improve at some point. If not, rookie Olivier Roy will get a chance to run with the ball. He's played four games and stopped 91.5% of the shots he's faced so far.

Sum It Up

The Barons are star laden but haven't been able to make that translate to a great record yet. The Heat don't have the same number of big names, but have managed to get out to the best start in franchise history. Tonight the Barons will hope to finally break out of their rut of mediocrity while the Heat will hope to keep the good times rolling.

PS - Join us here and OilersNation tomorrow for a cross-posted gamethread.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 jeremywilhelm
November 09 2012, 04:32PM
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Molly Ringwald plays for OKC?

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#2 RexLibris
November 09 2012, 04:44PM
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That title need a "...,baby" added to the end.

Just saying.

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#3 RexLibris
November 09 2012, 04:50PM
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Marincin has had a good start thus far and appears to be a good match with Schultz (taking coattails into account).

And Paajarvi dropped the "Svensson" in his rookie season.

I wouldn't be surprised with a split or a Heat sweep, based on the trends of both groups. That being said, at least it is a game that has some vague echoes of meaningfulness for the NHL teams.

I wish I could watch Tyrvainen and Hartikainen in this one. It could be a fun night.

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#4 jeremywilhelm
November 09 2012, 04:56PM
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Someone will probably post up a stream on here rex.

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#5 jeremywilhelm
November 09 2012, 05:25PM
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http://apps.ohlulz.com/ncaa/?lulz=rtmp://cp98724.live.edgefcs.net:1935/live&id=umass_m-hockey@32077 If you want to watch Janko play tonight.

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#6 thymebalm
November 09 2012, 07:56PM
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Gaudreau with 2 more goals. Arnold an assist. Those two are great.

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#7 jeremywilhelm
November 09 2012, 08:07PM
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Jankowski looked pretty bad tonight. Although, that being said, the whole Friars team were garbage besides Gillies, although he did give up a weak shortie tonight.

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#9 clyde
November 09 2012, 10:17PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Brodie with a couple of points so far, one assist for Baertschi. The Heat's PP remains red hot.

Wow! This team is doing ok against all of these future Hall of Famers!.

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#10 RexLibris
November 09 2012, 10:25PM
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The Barons appear to be playing Oilers-hockey. Too bad there's no draft to "win" in the AHL.

Yuck. I can't say that I expect much better tomorrow. Their performance so far this season has been very underwhelming.

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#11 RKD
November 09 2012, 10:29PM
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It is interesting the Barons have struggled with consistency. Schultz, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins have combined for 36 points but the team has a sub-par record.

Maybe splitting up the Oiler young guns might do something for the other players.

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#12 RexLibris
November 09 2012, 10:31PM
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RKD wrote:

It is interesting the Barons have struggled with consistency. Schultz, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins have combined for 36 points but the team has a sub-par record.

Maybe splitting up the Oiler young guns might do something for the other players.

They started this game split apart, if I read it correctly.

I'm not sure what it is. The team was working well last year based on depth and 4 line rotation.

My only guess is that there is some missing chemistry or that the communication between the defense and forwards is stalling the offense.

Or they're just having a bad run.

Either way, it isn't much fun for Oilers' fans.

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#13 clyde
November 09 2012, 10:33PM
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RKD wrote:

It is interesting the Barons have struggled with consistency. Schultz, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins have combined for 36 points but the team has a sub-par record.

Maybe splitting up the Oiler young guns might do something for the other players.

Maybe the game is about more than just being able to put up offensive stats???

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#14 Baalzamon
November 09 2012, 11:08PM
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maybe it's because someone decided to put Martin Marincin on the top pair. You know, weakest link in the chain, and all that.

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#16 schevvy
November 09 2012, 11:45PM
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Hey nation folk! Guess what? I believe tomorrow we all get to watch Barry "I'm out of my freaking mind" Brust start for Abby! I hear he's after Hall, Eberle and RNH!

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#17 RexLibris
November 10 2012, 12:13AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

The Barons have had mediocre to bad goaltending so far.

That said, splitting up all your big guns and sprinkling them around the roster is a nonsense tactic. There's a reason coaches more or less stack their best players together in the top two lines. It makes it harder to match against them, sure, but it also makes it harder to give them all ice time and it reduces their potency when they're playing with the likes of Tyravainen.

I assume Nelson will go back to having two top lines tomorrow.

Yeah, I understood what Nelson wanted to do there, but whenever I see a coach splitting up a line like that I get to thinking that partitioning the resource diminishes its value.

Having two lines of Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Hartikainen followed by Arcobello, Hall and Pitlick seems the best bet to me.

It sounded like a terrible night for Marincin. Tough for the kid, he's in his first year of pro and is already a top-pairing defenseman because the organization can't or won't find a veteran that would allow him to play 2nd pairing minutes.

There is tremendous potential there, he just needs time.

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#18 thymebalm
November 10 2012, 03:33AM
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Kent Wilson; "Uhh... Well... definitely NEXT game they will start regressing towards the mean.." ;)

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#20 Jai Kiran
November 10 2012, 10:46AM
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They will start regressing towards the mean...as soon as they play a bunch of games on the road, is my guess. But I'm hoping they don't...

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#21 T&A4Flames
November 10 2012, 11:15AM
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Jai Kiran wrote:

They will start regressing towards the mean...as soon as they play a bunch of games on the road, is my guess. But I'm hoping they don't...

Whatever happens on the road, at least they are taking advantage of their opportunities right now.

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