Friday, November 27, 2009

Insider Preview: Texas Brahmas @ Tulsa Oilers

Brahmas goaltending a key in second of six games this season

The Texas Brahmas (7-8-2, 16 points) are in Tulsa tonight for their second meeting with the Northern Conference leading Tulsa Oilers (11-3-1, 23 points) at the BOK Center. The two teams met for the first time on November 7th, in which the Brahmas won 5-3. The Brahmas held a 4-0 lead before the Oilers had a strong third period rally, only to give up a power play goal in the final minute.

Tulsa is coming off a Thanksgiving Day loss to the expansion Missouri Mavericks in a 5-4 shootout. The loss for the Oilers ended their quest to tie the franchise record for consecutive wins (eight) and forced the Northern Conference leaders to settle for seven straight wins (the team's longest winning streak since 2002 and second longest in franchise history). The CHL’s leading scorer, Rob Hisey, scored a goal in the loss extending his league-leading point streak to 13 games.

The Brahmas are coming off a 5-3 home loss on Wednesday night to the Odessa Jackalopes. I don’t know if this is any help, but the Brahmas have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games. It’s time to win (hopefully).

While the Oilers have the top two scorers in the CHL, Texas boasts the goaltender with the best goals against average. Rookie Joe Palmer has a 2.27 goals against average and is second in the league with a.922 save percentage.

The Oilers have a 7-0-1 home record and the league’s number one home penalty kill at 95.1%.

Statistically, the Brahmas need to lead or tie going into the intermissions as the Oilers at home are 7-0-0 leading after one and 6-0-0 leading after two.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon at the NYTEX Sports Centre.

Tulsa's three top scorers include Rob Hisey (C) with 31 points (12 G, 19 A, +5), TJ Caig (RW) with 27 points (12 G, 15 A, +11) and former Brahma Aaron Davis (C) with 16 points (6 G, 10 A, +4). Davis is now averaging better than a point a game. Their leading defensive scorer is Derek Eastman with 13 points (3 G, 10 A, +14).

Their top goons are right wing (guess who?) Rick Kozak (62 PIM) and the aforementioned Derek Eastman (35 PIM). Kozak leads the league with 32 penalty minutes assessed against him in a single game (a 5-1 loss to Wichita on 10/23).

On special teams, the Oilers have the number three power play with a 21.21 percentage and the number seven penalty kill with an 83.13 percentage. They also have four short-handed goals.

Kevin Armstrong (10-3-1) is expected in net for the Oilers. He is ranked 16th in the league with a 3.21 GAA and 18th in the league with a .895 save percentage.

Defensemen RJ Linder and Adam Bartholomay are out on the injured reserve and as of this writing are not expected to play tonight.

The Brahmas top three scorers are AJ Gale (F) with 15 points (8 G, 7 A, +3), Grant Jacobsen with 12 points (7 G, 5 A, 0) and Kevin McLeod (D) with 12 points (6 G, 6 A, -2). McLeod is also the Brahmas’ leading defensive scorer. Gale and Jacobsen have scored the majority of their points on the road (Gale: 6 G, 5 A, +2 and Jacobsen: 6 G, 4 A, -1).

On special teams, the Brahmas remain 14th in the league with a 10.58 percentage and 13th on the penalty kill with an 80.18 percentage. They still lead the league with five short-handed goals.

I'm not sure who will get the start in goal. My bet would be Joe Palmer (4-2-2), who has not faced the Oilers before. Palmer has allowed just seven goals in his last four games. Brett Jaeger (3-6-0), although successful against Tulsa in the first game, has had a rough start to the season and I think it’s time to give Palmer some more playing time (and experience).

As of this writing, there are no players listed out on injured reserve. Jason Deitsch and Elias Godoy were scratches in the last game. It is not known if either will play tonight.

The game starts at 7:05pm and can be seen on CHL-TV. I’ll have a post game summary posted shortly after the game ends.

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