Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle pointless in AHL opener; Barons lose 2-1

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle may yet light up the American Hockey League, but it didn’t happen for them in their first game of the season. Instead, both were held off the score-sheet despite a seemingly limitless run of power plays, and the Oklahoma City Barons dropped their opening game.

Game Story

It was a night for special teams, with the Barons and Lake Erie Monsters combining for 13 power plays. For both clubs, ultimately the penalty killers were the ones who enjoyed the primary success, though, with the lone power play goal coming on a 5-on-3 advantage for the Barons.

The best player on the ice was Lake Erie’s goaltender, Sami Aittokallio. Edmontonians may remember Aittokallio from the World Juniors, where he put in a solid performance for Finland; he made his North American professional debut tonight and turned aside 29 of 30 shots. He was a fourth round pick by Colorado back in 2010.

Martin Marincin was a victim on both goals against; he was merely part of the problem on the first one as the Barons’ entire third line got caught running around, but he was the primary culprit on the winning goal against with a bad pinch that left Justin Schultz to play a 2-on-1. Schultz took away the pass but Andrew Agozzino beat Yann Danis cleanly on the shot.

Barons Three Stars & Notables

1. Jordan Eberle. Earlier I said he “might” light up the AHL, and by that I mean he will. As play-by-play man Jim Byers put it in the third, “Eberle just makes room if there’s no room.” He did his fair share of dancing around defenders tonight and while only credited with two shots he put the puck just wide at least three more times.

2. Justin Schultz. It might seem an odd distinction on a night where he finished minus-2 and the power play was largely stymied, but Schultz looked really good. He carried the puck spectacularly, pinched smartly, shot and passed with equal aplomb and finished the night with five shots. He looked like an NHL defenceman.

3. Magnus Paajarvi. Cut to the net twice, power-forward style, and was flying all game. Did not look out of place with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins.

Honourable mention: Mark Arcobello. His size and track record shout ‘career minor-leaguer’ but there’s no doubt that he’s an effective player at the AHL level. Aside from Eberle he might have been the most elusive guy with the puck against Lake Erie; he also finished off a gorgeous Shultz pass nicely for the Barons’ only goal.

Dishonourable mention: The left side of the defence. Alex Plante, playing on his off-side, was probably the best of the Barons trio and he wasn’t particularly good. Brandon Davidson had trouble with speed and made ill-advised decisions with the puck; meanwhile Martin Marincin looked well out of his depth as Schultz’s partner. The team was rumoured to be looking for a veteran guy to play on the left side this summer; this game made it clear why. There’s an awful lot of youth at the position and that youth showed up in a myriad of mistakes.

  • RexLibris

    Interesting notes on the defense. Might be something to look for in terms of AHL veteran signings. As I understand it there really is no limit to roster size in that league.

    Lazar is having one heck of a night. He has a goal and an assist and almost single-handedly tried to win the game in OT.

    Didn’t score in the shootout, but had a tremendous game. He was creating plenty of chances and was all over the ice, wherever the puck was.

    Oil Kings lost 5-4 on Greg Chase’s shootout goal.

    Samuelsson had two goals and one in the shootout, as well as one assist. Really wish we’d been able to draft him. =(

    • The Soup Fascist

      Chase is a nifty little player but I am not sure taunting the Oil Kings bench after the shootout was particularly wise. There are some long memories in that league. Great game in stretches.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        That was a pretty good game. I’m just happy that sportsnet is playing actual hockey games now. It just isn’t the same listening to/watching games online.

        • The Soup Fascist

          You are correct, sir. Pretty sure I heard Spector say SNET is currently negotiating for more CHL and AHL games, although shipping a crew down to OKC may not be cost effective.

          Didn’t look at the boxscore but it did not appear Oil Kings crowd was noticeably affected by SN one broadcast last night.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    MPS made a cut to the net in the first period and used a perfect under the arm move to turn the d-mans body around and take him out of the play but he didnt realise that when he gets under the d-mans arm and turns him perfectly like that he forces his entire body aound and Magnus can cut into the net harder,it will be wide open,he didnt realise how effective it is to use the d-mans arm to turn him out of the play as opposed to simply cutting as hard as possible and was caught by surprise,look for him to begin to take those to the net after he turns the d-man out of the play as he gets used to the sucess it gives him.I hope he watches that play on video a few times to see how effective his size can be when used that way,and especially to see how he turns the d-mans body right around and uses momentum to take him out of the play completey.This isnt bulling past the d-man its removing him from the play entirely,great job Magnus.

    I didnt see more than highlights but the team showed a lot of different looks as the game evolved,very fun to see that happening,on the upspeed play bring it into the o-zone a step slower to delay the first shot a hair and then you have better positioning with your upspeed man,it isnt pure speed entering the zone that catalyses the play its the upspeed mans timing,and getting the shot placement initially to create the rebound,I saw it tried a few times but the zone entry was hurried and the upspeed man was coming in to late,and the shot needs to be low corner with no air,flat on the ice.You also want pressure in the middle high just before the shot to keep the d-men away from the corner the upspeed man is trying to hit for the rebound,pressure the d-men to the middle and towards where the initial shot will come from.You want to lure or encourage the opposition d-men to do the RIGHT thing not the WRONG thing,you arent trying to create offense out of their mistakes you are trying to create it from your execution so it is better if their d-men do the traditional things not unexpected things,so somtimes a medium paced o-zone entry allows the upspeed man play to catalyse better.

    Can you get the full game on video anywhere?

    On the PP deflections become an even bigger weapon than 5 on 5,slap passes turned into deflections are even more effective if the man on the recieving end isnt covered at all like so often happens on the PP,try it in practice from the faceoff circles because it is easy to get the open cage on the PP by flooding one side and turning the tenders feet.Or instead of a slap pass which is low percentage a hard low wrister recieved and released as a onetimer instead of a deflection??A pp isnt a time to better manage your possesions its a time to strike faster.Flood one side,send the one timer over to the open side and thats it,over and over,just flood one side and hurry up the shot with a deflection or a low hard wrist pass turned into a onetimer or scoop shot.Keep it simple and gain your advantage when you hurry the terminal shot up,maximise the man advantage by striking ASAP.And repeating as many times as possible,the least complicated and most effective play executed as many times as possible,KISS.

    Schultz plays well within the system,that perfect pass was system generated absolutely,he could have shot the puck and many would have but he knew where the puck was supposed to go,he just skipped the rebound part and fired it to the player,he could have shot on net and generated a rebound but he knew where his outlet man was supposed to be and hit him.That would be a very dangerous pass to attempt in the NHL unless your head is welded to your body though.He let the pass go right in the sweetspot,and in the NHL he would have been stapled to the spot.He would have made the pass but paid a serious price.Great system awareness though and great execution on his part of the pass.How many times will he hit Hall with those passes??Wow maybe Hall will put in 40 or 50 goals with a passer like that and his wheels.A passer like that turns Hall into a Center,and allows him to use his speed to beat d-men without the puck and gain superior positioning to recieve those passes,this is an even better use of Halls speed,which is his strength,he is always open at critical moments wether he gets the puck or not ,without it he always beats his man to openings,he just needs a possesion skater and passer like that from the back end to support his use of that speed to focus on scoring position instead of puck possesion,this passing allows a direct pass to the upspeed man from a d-man not a rebound from a forwards shot,it is a hurry up offense so to speak,but in the NHL dangerous to try.How many guys will ever beat Hall to that spot as he comes in upspeed from behind the play—he will look like Modano.Taylor will benefit the most from Schultz as Mess did from Coffey.I seriously think Hall might be good for 50 with this guy on defense.I predict trouble soon because Schultz is dominant out there and his style is so refined already that you need to let him run the offense from his stick all over the ice,and he looks elite so will probably produce and justify that,however this means he will have the puck on his stick a lot and also be on the ice a lot,he will have a lot of possesions more than any forward,and he will be forcing them into offense so I expect big numbers from him,but lower assists for others.And this means it might be funner to be on the second line if you are a forward who likes to carry the puck a lot.If you just want to score goals and can get open the most you will have a goalfest playing with this d-man on the first line.

    I see Potter hitting Schultz with quick long crossice passes or rushing it himself the first twenty feet and then breaking him out all night long,this is where defensive minded forwards like Gagner and MPS will benefit same with Horcoff,they will allow Schultz to really take the puck wherever he wants to with no fear,and will themselves be excellent upspeed options joinging the play late after they fall back to support Schultses rushes,thats the benefit of playing with an offensive defenceman he will pay you back for extra hard work with goals when you support him then get open.I think Schultz if he stays healthy will turn out to be a core piece of our team for a long time.I want to say Coffey but Paul was tough as nails and I am not sure how Schultz will handle that side of the game,Coffey was a unique blend so to speak he got off on ripping oppositions hearts out from the back end with his offense.It was a fetish with him he was a maniac actually,and if he got cheapshotted then he really opened up on teams he was very explosive and could target teams and really hurt them.A lot of guys on that team were like that ,they played at 100% and if you resorted to cheapshotting them instead of retaliating they kicked it up another gear and put up points ,then after they were ahead they were cut loose to retaliate at will,but the points came first,so there was great incentive to work hard to get the lead especially if you were getting roughed up because as soon as you had a good lead you got permission for payback for the rest of the game.I hope Schultz understands he can dominate from the getgo and doesnt hesitate out of the gate.He can run a possesion game from the first line with Hall and Potter/ Yakupov can run a possesion game from the second line,Whitney can run a breakout game deep from the third line and we are set.

    I see no point in not putting Schultz in a first line pairing immediatly,he might as well get used to Laddy.We need a possesion/skating d-man for the second line so Potter/Petry fits best.Schultz/Whitney owns the third line as he is the best long bomber.

    • WrathOfTheJenati

      Holy Sh!t Dude…(& the readers digest version).
      1st Paragraph: MPS, needs to have confidence, in his ability to, turn d-men around, completely,

      2nd:,,,,,Upspeed man,,,,,(& some JibberJabber)

      3rd: I can’t believe THIS guy(NewAgeSys) has the gall to say K.I.S.S.(Keep it simple stoopid) to ANYBODY,,,,,EVER,,,,

      4th: Shultz,good passer, Hall score many goals,from Shultz,,, Dynasty days comp,,,

      5th: Shultz-Coffey comp, something about the inner workings of the dynasty teams system,

      6th: His expert D-line suggestions.

      My Take… Just like the father in “A River Runs Through It” I’ll tell you sternly.
      “Now do it again… But 1/2 as long.”
      Cheers on the effort buddy, (if it’s that hard to read, it must be even harder to write) But WAY too many words(& comma’s).

      • EasyOil

        Trust me, myself and many others have tried to persuade him to change his writing style, but to no avail. Well thats not quite true, he’s better than he used to be, believe it or not, but that’s not saying much…

        • WrathOfTheJenati

          I know… I’ve been reading this site daily(& checking for updates multiple times a day for several years now) Cheers to the staff by the way for their excellent work.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Love your analysis, but I would think Potter is a 7-8 guy. I think he will find himself behind Peckham or Sutton who will fight for 6th defender. Schultz Jr. replaces him as the puckmoving pp option, and I think the Oilers are going to stick in a big nasty guy in the third defence pairing, because they already got puckmovers in Petry, Schultz and Whitney.

      • The Soup Fascist

        I struggled with that exact scenario,I rationalised Potter was doing an excellent job last year when we were winning early and often,he showed good versatility being able to make long accurate passes like Whitney–but also making excellent decisions when rushing the puck,creating a two dimensional threat,he is a mobile Whitney at a way cheaper salary,neither are tough as I would like ,I want the mobile guy who fits better into a possesion/ transition system naturally,I couldnt justify putting Whitney in a position to work with Yakupov on the 2nd line who is a possesion/transition player by nature,I dont want to see Whitts hitting Yakupov with a long bomb and taking away his time with the puck on his stick,I want to see Whitney controlling the back and feeding Smyth and Horcs long bombs to save them miles of skating early in the season–we will need gas in their tanks at playoff time.

        I see Sutton as a tactical insert he has a lot to offer but is more of a specialist,he gives us a physical dominating presence.I assume we will take our share of injuries and he will have a lot of opportunity.
        I love Peckham and think he was developing perfectly last time I saw him,he was playing a very poised patient simple game–this makes him a good fit for any possesion type d-man we have,maybe he can adjust his excellent decision making on his clearing plays into a short sprint and relay to a possesion d-man who will bust it out,just a tweak,turn that patience and poise with the clearing into a simple sprint pass play,just twenty feet at the right time consistantly,because we cant afford to dump the puck out as I see us using a possesion/transition style and willingly turning the puck over wont fly.
        I see Peckham as much more than a tough d-man,I think he is capable of playing an ultra-conservative game with an offensive partner. And he brings a physical presence and he has excellent decision making regarding getting involved physically he makes very well timed decisions on behalf of his teammates and is truly fearless and very protective in nature.Where as Sutton is a pure punisher ,Peckham is a protector.
        I am always trying to find a balance of bigger size defensmen who can work well together using their natural tendancies to their advantages not all be having to adjust everything for the system.Dynamic pairings.So as I look at the guys we have I picture what I think I see as their natural tendancies and I watch the things I see them have to adjust to execute as asked within the system,then I try to envision a smoother scenario where they are matched with a dynamic positive or a partner that compliments them perfectly ,then I trust they will both be system smart.I dont think forcing players to alter their tendancies to adhere to all system needs is the best thing to be doing,I think finding dynamic matches and trusting them is the key to planning the roster.
        Like Whitney,an elite passer,a guy who matches up with our vets who we dont want to see skating so much as they must without that great breakout pass,with Ryan they can hover in the neutral zone and still be sucessful, because Ryan needs to make that pass from behind the net I see a need for a partner who can run tactical interference on incoming forcheckers with excellent outlet positionig if Whitts cant hit the long bomb–and this I think is the elder Schultz,he has the experience and natural tendencies to patrol that low neutral zone area as a perfect outlet man to support Whitney.
        So when I envision a complete 5 man unit I see Horcoff-Smyth-Jones-Whitney-Schultz.Because our vets are all savvy and can execute that breakout play from the neutral zone all night long with great sucess and it saves them ragging the puck all night long,I see Schultz as having the moxy to make very good decisions in no mans land which is where Whitneys partner has to be to make the play work,it is worth the effort to put their tendancies together dynamicly and then you can play them against any other line and be confident in their abilitys to work under pressure as their tendancies will support each other when the game speeds up.Even their mistakes wont be as magnified because as a unit they will be thinking the same dynamicly.A playoff line you can throw out any time at all.
        To me the 5 man units are dictated by the type of offense we want to see as being the core value,not the defense we want to see.I want to build the defense around the offense in a complimentary manner a natural flow of sympathetic tendancies that will in a sense auto-correct at high speeds or naturally be able to react faster as a cohesive unit to adjustments and transitions.

        I have trouble numbering defensmens spots traditionally,but I see exactly how they are usually numbered and paired up based only on their physical skills.No matter who they are as long as they posess average NHL skillsets the system should work 100% or it is a flawed or mismanaged system.To put sucess or failure at the feet of the physical skills of individual players or 5 man units alone is not acceptable to me.
        Because I have preconcieved notions regarding our Jeckyl and Hyde performance last year I feel we will see a possesion/transition style of offensive game from the Oilers coaches,I believe we will focus on good transitional support for that offense from our d-men,this means we need to look at our offensive lines and match them up dynamicly with their defensive pairings so they are all complimentary,then when we have injuries it is easier to slot in replacements based on their natural tendancies.I see a very mobile defense that plays the game from high in their defensive zone not low behind our net,this means short spurts of mobility or possesion drives by d-men,but not much hanging around behind our net.
        I see the value in a line based off of Whitney and manned by the vets as being what a championship team requires ,a tool a very battle hardened reliable effective tool that can really hurt you if you arent careful—a perfect dichotomy to mess with opposition defenses who try to anticipate our gameplan.A dynamicly catalysed 5 man unit that you can put up against any teams first line in a playff series.And also a line that can wreak havoc from the third spot,win games from deep in the line-up taking a lot of pressure off of the kids up front,as I say a championship dynamic.Gagner and Yakupov and MPS will take the heat off of the first line with offensive support and the vets run by Whitts can take the pressure off the second line by also adding offense from the 3rd line and then this just leaves our 4th line who will if I am right also be bringing the offense with a possesion/transition mobile defenseman catalysing the line looking to stir things up.

        I am always concerned with who our guys play with within our system more than with who they play against,I am looking for system integrity through dynamic roster management,not looking to stack physical intangibles up against the opposition in a one dimensional defensive mindset.I believe in keeping the teams system statement the single defining core value of the process.I believe any system can produce winning results if managed dynamicly with a system first mentality.I believe the real challenge to building a winning team or a winning defensive pairing is dynamic integration at every level.I dont really believe in numbering lines ,just dynamic matches in 5 man units,proper system execution negates the reliance on simply physical skill levels to define those units,the general idea is to insulate your entire lineup through system integrity then bolster that with higher level skill,not depend on the higher level skill.You need to be able to put your 4th line up against the oppositions 1st line in a playoff type game or your system isnt superior.
        The only way a unit of Pluggers will beat a unit of All-stars is if they execute a perfect system,and we have all seen it happen over and over,but always the same way,through system management and execution.So if they can do it once and their system is capable of counter adjusting they will do it consistantly if managed properly.The only way possible to counter skill is with system management aside from a skill arms race.So when an ultra-skilled team embraces this mindset of balanced dynamic system managment they automaticly increase the impact their ultra skilled players have while on the ice,they become snipers instead of cannons.And they become a winning team.

        So much depends on what the coach wants to execute system wise when we consider pairings or 5 man units,but the issue is that no matter what the system is we must plan our roster based on dynamic continuity that supports a system first mentality.As long as those 5 man units are built and supported dynamicly they will support any system.This tactical dynamic roster managment also breeds familiarity based off of natural chemistry very quickly.

        I agree J.Schultz will be bumped up ,but I think it will be with Smid,I dont think we will see a Smid Petry combo,they are a shutdown pairing and I think we will be looking for a balanced approach with a lot more offense than they can produce,because Laddy is the anchor he must stay and because J.S is so talented he must be on the first line.Laddy is stay at home naturally.And never underestimate his offense he can score goals he just hasnt been asked to,with J.S he will be asked to more.I see Petry as a Smid clone in the making so I naturally fit him in as the next anchor to another offensive guy who can move the puck ,I choose Potter over Whitney to pair with Petry,then I see Schultz as an anchor for Whitneys long passes.So I see two lines with offensive d-men one high octane–the 1st,then the 2nd still offensive but more reserved,and third again high octane but a breakout style that doesnt include the d-men skating the puck up ice much–or the forwards coming all the way back.The last line pair I see is our punisher line that also skates the puck up with the d-men joining the rush.If we release Sutton to be our offensive catalyst and have Peckham feed him passes st the blueline he will be unstoppable on that sprint to the net–the big fella can really move the puck up ice in very few strides and no one can stop him and he has unbelievable puck skills for a huge man,unbelievable hands on him,so even our beasts can contribute offense.

        Do you think the Oilers are in a position to make a big trade and move several d-men to make room for those who are now ready??

  • I tried it at home

    So, I guess we can put the parade for the Calder on hold. Im curious about the quality of opposition they faced tonight, are the Monsters heavy on NHL refugees too, or did our heroes meet their standard AHL team? Works been busy, I havent been able to do my usual roster checking.

  • I tried it at home

    Not even going to attempt to spell his name but the monsters goalie was the difference.

    The picture quality and no running clock made it even more of a chore watchng the game but it’s better than nothing!

  • RexLibris

    If I recall correctly the Barons got their hats handed to them by Houston at the season opener last year, only to come back and win the following night. I think they won a few more games as the season went on, too. Given this young roster (even for the AHL), I expect some consistency issues, but I don’t anticipate that they will struggle greatly or for long periods of time.

    Might be really fun to see this team two or three weeks from now, once Hall has joined them. An up-to-speed roster having added a player of his ability might just be worth the price of admission. đŸ˜‰

    • The Soup Fascist

      So what I think you are saying is we shouldn’t be trying to package up RNH and Eberle in a trade? I don’t know, they seem to be struggling to put up points at this level, let alone the NHL.

  • RexLibris

    I watched a good portion of the third, and I was amazed at how well Schultz skates. Ive watched his youtube clips, and after watching last night I think the kid comes as billed. Skates so well, and is very quick getting the puck up the ice. I knew Eberle and Nugent Hopkins were going to be a bit off as they played no preseason. Harti and MPS could of been a bit better too. You could tell there was a distinct talent difference between the clubs, and I think today is going to be another story, predicting a 5-2 Baby Oil game with Eberle with 2 goals, and Nuge with 3 points and Schultzie with a goal and assist.