Anton Lander scored a goal off a wicked shot (it’s in the highlight package above) with 20 seconds left to play against the Lake Erie Monsters to give the Oklahoma City Barons their sixth consecutive win. After looking like they were done around the midpoint of the season, Oklahoma is now only four points out of a playoff spot in the AHL’s Western Conference.
For those who aren’t familiar, “Fenwick” is shorthand for unblocked shot attempts. In other words, a player like Anton Lander (who played primarily in a power-vs.-power role) was on the ice for 14 shots or missed shots for and 15 shots or missed shots against at even-strength. It gives a snapshot of where the puck was with any given player on the ice in this particular game.
The Second Line
C.J. Stretch scored the first goal for Oklahoma. This is his first full AHL season after working his way on to the roster last season. He’s a useful player, a guy who can do (and has done) a little bit of everything, play centre or right wing on any line from top to bottom and add a little offence and a little chippiness. It’s easy to understand why the Barons find him useful.
After the game, Stretch had nothing but positive things to say about linemates Roman Horak and Steve Pinizzotto.
“They’re both skill guys,” he said. “Both of them played in the NHL for almost a full year. Pinizzotto creates a ton of room for me; he just hits hard. Horak can get that puck in and find it and we both do the same thing, we’re both playmakers. I always look at them; they played at the next level and that’s where I want to be so I try to learn from them.”
Things Worth Noting
- Austin Fyten, the 22-year-old ECHL call-up, played well on the top line (and has looked good all season when called upon). He brings a bit of size to the lineup (6’2”, 200 pounds) and plays an intelligent defensive game. Team captain Anton Lander praised his work ethic, ability to win puck battles and shot before concluding that he’s “a really smart player who makes good passes.”
- Asked about the value of Fyten winning puck battles, Lander channeled Detroit coach Mike Babcock’s philosophy on puck possession: “If you win the battles for the puck you have the puck. That’s really what it’s all about; it’s all about possession. If you have the puck they can’t do much.”
- The Barons had to run with 11 forwards and seven defencemen thanks to injuries, Mark Arcobello being prohibited from playing during the Olympic break and Steve MacIntyre being stuck on the East Coast. Pitlick is expected back from injury next week, but as head coach Todd Nelson said, “We expected him 10 days ago.”
- Denis Grebeshkov didn’t have a particularly good game, but assistant coach Gerry Fleming (who runs the defence) did a nice job of keeping him involved, mixing him in on seemingly every pairing at some point or other. Matt Ford mostly got duty double-shifted on the fourth line, though Neslon occasionally used a different forward there and mentioned after the game he likes having the option of double-shifting an offensive player on the fourth line.
- Richard Bachman had a stellar outing ,as did Sami Aittokallio at the other end of the rink. The Lake Erie goaltender stopped 32 of 34 shots but Bachman outplayed him, turning aside 39 of 40.
- I’m forever praising the play of Taylor Fedun, because he’s an exceptional AHL defenceman (and that shows in his numbers here). I am a little concerned about his ability to translate that play to the NHL long-term; he isn’t especially big or strong and can be run off the puck (as he was in one especially memorable sequence against Lake Erie that led to a great opposition scoring chance). The Oilers really ought to give him a shot after the deadline to see whether his smarts can compensate for his size.
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