“Actually, he gets upset with me if I don't put him out there on key draw (faceoff) situations because he wants that responsibility and he feels good about his role,” Nelson said of O'Marra. “He gets satisfaction from that. If he doesn't win those draws, he gets upset with himself.
“Winning the draw is an art, and a lot of people don't realize that. You've got to be smart for one thing. You have to study your opponent. The smart faceoff men figure out what's going to beat the other guy.”
O'Marra and Tremblay also are paying offensive dividends. Three of Tremblay's four goals this season have been shorthanded, with O'Marra supplying the assist.
There was a breathtaking sequence in the Barons' last game when O'Marra stole the puck, protected it with a 360-degree spin move and dished a perfect lead pass to Tremblay, who scored on a clean breakaway. It all began with a little eye contact between O'Marra and Tremblay.
“That's the chemistry they have,” Nelson said. “They knew where each other is going to be. It's like a quarterback and a receiver. There's always a combination that's better than another combination. It's the same thing with them.”
What is O'Marra's reward for doing all this grunt work that earns him such little notoriety?
“To reward grunt work, you get more grunt work,” O'Marra said with a chuckle. “The rewarding part is looking back on last season, it didn't matter what my stats were. The Oilers knew what my role was and how I was developing down here. It doesn't matter if I score 20 or five goals, as long as I'm especially responsible doing the penalty kill, that's going to help my career.”
Barons at Grand Rapids Griffins
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1
Records: Grand Rapids is 7-9-1-0 and in fourth in the Western Conference's North Division. Oklahoma City is 12-5-0-1 and tied for second in the West Division.
Scouting report: The Griffins are the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, while the Barons are affiliated with the Edmonton Oilers. … The Griffins and Barons split their two previous meetings this season in Oklahoma City, with the Barons winning 4-1 on Oct. 21 and the Griffins winning 3-2 in a shootout the following night. … Grand Rapids is coming off a 5-2 victory at home over Hamilton on Wednesday. … Barons forward Linus Omark is out at least six weeks with a broken left ankle and has returned home to Sweden, where he will begin rehabilitation.
Up next: Because of a scheduling conflict at Van Andel Arena, the Barons must travel to Rockford (7-9-1-0) for a 7:05 p.m. game Saturday and then return to Grand Rapids for a 4 p.m. contest Sunday. OKC's next home game is Friday against the San Antonio Rampage at 7 p.m. inside the Cox Convention Center. Tickets are available at the Cox Center box office.