Oklahoma City Barons coach Todd Nelson isn't sure what to think about the success his team has shown on the road the last two American Hockey League seasons.
“You try to pinpoint it or try to think about why you have a strong road record, and I'm not sure,” Nelson said. “I don't think it's as big a deal as it used to be, where guys get intimidated by a different building because it's a full crowd or whatever. It's not like that anymore.”
Whatever it is, the Barons have been one of the top road teams in the AHL the last two seasons.
Entering Monday afternoon's Western Conference Final Game 3 in Toronto, the Barons are 5-0 away from the Cox Center in the playoffs.
Over the last two seasons, the Barons are an astounding 51-26-9 on the road.
It's as simple as sticking with the game plan, forward Philippe Cornet said.
“The main thing is we keep it simple on the road all year,” Cornet said. “I think here, with the fans, we sometimes try to do too much, It's normal. I think most teams are like that, too.”
Magnus Paajarvi, who assisted on two goals in a 5-1 win in Game 2 at the Cox Center on Friday night, echoed Cornet's reasoning.
“It's a greater challenge and everybody rises to it,” Paajarvi said. “We've got a good system. It's when we get outside of the system that we hurt ourselves.”
The Barons did that in Game 1, a 5-0 loss at the Cox Center. Oklahoma City struggled to create first chances, let alone second and third tries, against Toronto goaltender Ben Scrivens.
Oklahoma City went back to doing what it has done best for Game 2, creating better chances, though most of the goals weren't the “greasy” kind that have been the Barons hallmark on the road for most of the year.
They're likely to need that element — getting screens in front of Scrivens, deflecting pucks and winning battles in front of the net — in Toronto.
“The way we played (Friday), we've got to keep playing like that,” Cornet said. “But we've got to expect pressure like the first game. They're going to be at home with the crowd behind them, so we've got to match their intensity and their pressure.”