Most American Hockey League teams are losing some of their top players to NHL training camps now that the lockout has ended.
Not South Division-leading Charlotte.
With five of their top-seven scorers still on the roster the Checkers romped to a 7-0 American Hockey League win over the Barons on Friday night at the Cox Convention Center.
It got so bad some of the 3,772 fans started booing during the third period.
“When you lose 7-0 you have a lot of passengers (along for the ride),” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “That's one thing we can't have.”
Seven different players scored for Charlotte. Zach Boychuk scored his 16th goal, Zac Dalpe his 12th and Chris Terry his 11th.
In contrast, Teemu Hartikainen is the only player on Oklahoma City's roster with double digit goals (11). And Hartikainen will be leaving this weekend for Edmonton's training camp with a good chance to stick with the Oilers all season.
“We can't get too down,” said team captain Josh Green said. “Hopefully, we learned from it, remember the feeling and play like we don't want it to happen again. Obviously, we need to get better, play a little more gritty and have guys care a little more. This was embarrassing.”
Friday's game was a reality check. Someone must provide goals now that Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have returned to Edmonton. The “Fab Four” combined for 55 goals in 34 games with the Barons.
But the most glaring stat is OKC has surrendered 115 goals, the second most in the AHL.
“We don't have the firepower we did at the start of the year,” Green said. “Ebs had 50 points. I think our leading scorer last year had 50 points (all season). It's got to be a team game, keep them low scoring games and play team defense.”
In two games without the Oilers' other young stars, the Barons have been outscored 13-3, including a loss last Sunday at Chicago.
Outshot 34-24 Friday night, the Barons fell behind 2-0 after one period, 5-0 after two periods. Boychuk scored just 27 seconds into the game. Terry scored with 11 seconds left in the first period.
“There's plenty of guys that were here last year when we went to the conference finals,” Hartikainen said. “This is still a good team. It comes down to working hard ... every single guy on the team. That's what we had last year. This team definitely has it. They just have to find it.”
Yann Danis, last year's AHL Goaltender of the Year, was pulled midway through the second period after allowing four goals with only nine saves. Olivier Roy had 18 saves.
“You can't blame the goalies,” Nelson said. “The four goals Yann let in, one was a breakaway and the other three were backdoor plays into an empty net. The guys in front of the net have to do their job.”
The division rivals play again at 7 Saturday night at the Cox Center.
“Tonight obviously was a stinker,” Nelson said. “We have to try to forget about it. The good thing is you get to play right away again. We're facing a good hockey team. We've got to be better.”