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Rampage And Barons Clash In Second Round Battle

Thursday, 05.3.2012 / 11:00 AM ET / News
By Jim Charshafian  - SARampage.com
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Rampage And Barons Clash In Second Round Battle
The San Antonio Rampage, fresh off their first playoff series win in franchise history last week battle the top seeded Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL Western Conference Semifinals.

After eliminating the Chicago Wolves in a grueling five-game first round playoff series last week, the San Antonio Rampage have now set their sights on their next opponent, the Oklahoma City Barons. The puck drops on San Antonio’s Western Conference Semifinal series against Oklahoma City on Thursday, and the Rampage know they’ll be in for a tough test against the Barons.

Oklahoma City, who finished with the best record in the Western Conference during the regular season and dispatched of the Houston Aeros in four games in the Quarterfinals, were one of the stingiest defensive teams in the AHL all year. They ranked second overall in goals against per game, giving up 2.32 per contest, and their goaltender, Yann Danis, was atop the leaderboard in many goaltending categories after posting a 2.07 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. He allowed four goals in four games versus the Aeros in the first round.

The Rampage were among the league’s best defensive squads as well, as they were ranked seventh in goals against per game with an average of 2.68. Their solid goaltending duo of Jacob Markstrom and Dov Grumet-Morris helped them develop a reputation as being one of the AHL’s best teams in their own end throughout the second half of the regular season. Neither the Barons nor the Rampage are expected to suddenly change their identity when the series begins on Thursday, so coach Chuck Weber and the rest of the Rampage are ready for a low-scoring battle.

“We expect more of what we saw from them during the regular season,” said Weber. “We’re two teams who have a ‘defense first’ mentality. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes and whoever works the hardest will win the series.”

Markstrom, who maintained a 2.46 G.A.A. and a .922 save percentage in three games against the Wolves in the opening round, won’t get caught up in the goaltender matchup against Danis.

“I don’t worry about the other goalie,” he said. “I only worry about what I can do for my team. It’s going to be tough. Every goal counts. It’ll be important that we don’t get frustrated because we expect every game to come down to the end.”

Weber believes that in a series with two teams with similar defensive styles, special teams will be key. The Rampage power play, which tied for the AHL lead in the first round with seven power-play goals, led the league with a 31.8 conversion rate in the Quarterfinals. They’ll be matched up against a Barons penalty kill that was 13-13 during their first round set against the Aeros.

“Special teams will make the difference,” said Weber. “Our power play will have to stay hot and we’re going to need to get some timely penalty kills.”

Defenseman Colby Robak, one of the stalwarts of the Rampage power play, said that finesse will be the last thing on San Antonio’s mind when they are on the attack.

“We’re going to need to take advantage of our offensive opportunities,” he said. “We have to be patient and when we get our chances, we just have to throw the puck on net as much as we can.”

The Rampage and Barons figure to play a series where gritty play and “greasy goals,” as Weber likes to call them, will be featured often.

“We have to stick to our identity,” Weber said. “We’re prepared to play 0-0 until five minutes left in every game.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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