by Lisa Brown on 05/08/12 at 01:00 PM ET
It’s been two back to back overtime victories, but with those victories the Barons have now taken a 2-1 series lead over the San Antonio Rampage. After dropping the first game 6-4 the Barons regrouped and settled into the knowledge that this would be a hard fought best of 7 series.
There may not have been any dancing by Rampage goaltender Jacob Markstom yet, but maybe he’s just waiting for his song.
While kept off of the score sheet in Monday night’s game, Magnus Paajarvi still has 4 points in 3 games, a big improvement over his single point from the first round.The low number of points has not been from lack of effort however, as Paajarvi leads his team in shots on goal.
Paajarvi had his chances with both the Oilers and the Barons this season, but struggled to find his consistency and make his mark in his sophomore season. No one would have expected Jordan Eberle numbers, but only 2 goals and 8 points in 41 NHL games was a huge disappointment for the young Swede. With the Barons Paajarvi made an imediate impact and then seemed to settle into a comfortable scoring pace. In his 34 regular season games in the AHL Paajarvi would tally 7 goals and 18 assists or nearly 3 points every 4 games.
The confidence acquired playing with the Barons has carried through to the post season, and it is a good thing that Paajarvi opted to play with the Barons rather than insist he be released to play for Team Sweden at the IIHF World Championships. After all, Linus Omark opted to take that route and did not even make the Swedish roster being one of the final cuts.
Rookie Anton Lander did not fare any better than Paajarvi on the points totals, but is trying to make up for that in the post season. Scoring the first goal in the Barons 2-1 overtime victory, Lander has 2 goals and a single assist through his 7 playoff games and hopes to add to those totals should the Barons advance to the Western Conference Finals.
The overtime goal came from another Oilers’ centreman Chris VandeVelde with just 4:10 left in the extra frame. VandeVelde was drafted by the Oilers and has been putting in his time in his time trying to earn a permanent spot in the NHL, he is also an RFA this summer. While VandeVelde may not have played a large number of games with the Oilers this season, the trade of Ryan O’Marra for Bryan Rodney from the Anaheim Ducks may have been an early sign that the Oilers have decided that it is VandeVelde they see as their prospect 4th line centre moving forward as VandeVelde’s future career in the NHL is still not a given.
Only two wins away from a trip to the AHL Western Conference finals, the Barons know that the momentum of each and every game is easily swayed and that the Rampage could just as easily have taken each of the overtime games.And so you have to give some credit to the head coach Todd Nelson who has been able to keep his team focused on the task at hand; looking for scoring opportunities. The team could have easily panicked after facing a true challenge, but have instead dug in their heels and tried to stay out of the penalty box. Tried being the optimal word. Through 3 games the Barons have taken 30 PIM which may not seem like much more than the Rampage’s 24 PIM, but in playoff time a minute can seem like an eternity, just ask the New York Rangers and Washington Captials in their 3rd overtime period.
The series will remain in San Antonio for the next two games before travelling back to OKC in this 2-3-2 series format, and if the past two games have shown anything I would expect Thursday night’s game to be a hard fought battle that will go to overtime.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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