BY RYAN ABER
Giroux one away from 600
With his next point, Barons winger Alexandre Giroux will become the 44th player in American Hockey League history with 600 points.
If Giroux gets that point tonight or tomorrow, he’ll go form 500 to 600 in less than a year.
Giroux scored his 500th point on Dec. 19, 2009, on a second-period goal in Hershey’s 5-4 win against Rochester.
Giroux’s next goal will be No. 319 in the AHL, tying him for 13th overall in league history. He could be in the top 10 by the end of the season. Brad Smyth is currently No. 10 with 326 goals. No. 9 is Tim Tookey with 353.
Petiot expected to return
Richard Petiot is expected to play tonight for the first time since Nov. 7.
Petiot suffered a knee injury in that game against Toronto and was initially expected to miss just a week or two.
“It’s just one of those things you want to make sure it’s healed all the way before you come back,” Petiot said. “I didn’t want to come back too early and then wind up hurting it again and being out for longer.”
Petiot is plus-3 with four assists in 15 games for the Barons.
With most of the week off, Barons coach Todd Nelson put his team through a pretty rigorous practice schedule this week, something Petiot said helped him to be sure he was ready to return.
“It’s definitely a help,” Petiot said. “I’ve been testing it out and it feels good so far.”
Defensemen all accounted for
While the possibility remains for a defenseman to be called up this weekend, as of now it looks like all the Barons defenders will be in place for tonight’s game.
Earlier this week, Nelson said the most likely candidates for callup to the Oilers were Alex Plante (4 NHL games), Shawn Belle (15 NHL games), Taylor Chorney (44 NHL games) and Jeff Petry (0 NHL games). He also said Petiot remains a possibility if he could prove he was healthy.
“It just depends on what they want,” Nelson said. “We’re talking to them every day.”
It didn’t take long for Linus Omark to make his mark after a callup to Edmonton last week.
In his debut, Omark assisted on a Tom Gilbert goal in the second period that put the Oilers ahead.
But his big mark came in the shootout, when he started with a spin-o-rama in the neutral zone before beating Tampa Bay goalie Dan Ellis to clinch the Edmonton win.
Nelson has seen the move before. Omark most recently did the spin move in a shootout at Manitoba. That attempt, however, did not lead to a goal.
“He scored, that’s the point,” Nelson said. “You have to let guys be creative when they can do things like that.”
Nelson said Omark improved consistently throughout his time with the Barons in fitting his creativity in to the Barons’ overall system.
“Guys that have that creativity to do things like that, you want them to do it but it has to fit within the system,” Nelson said. “But when they can make it work in that structure, then it’s a good thing for the team and for the sport.”
Omark had another big night in last night’s Oilers win over Columbus, scoring his first NHL goal and assisting on two more in Edmonton’s 6-3 win.
Deslauriers headed to Spengler Cup
The Barons will be without goaltender Jeff Deslauriers for at least three games and possibly a few more after being named to the Canadian team in the Spengler Cup, which will be played Dec. 26-31 in Davos, Switzerland.
Deslauriers is 4-4-2 with the Barons.
He’s the only player on Canada’s roster for the event who doesn’t play professionally in Switzerland.
Deslauriers will share goaltending duties with Tyler Moss, who has played in the NHL with Carolina, Calgary and Vancouver.
The Barons figure to recall Bryan Pitton during Deslauriers’ absence. Pitton has already had several stints with the Barons, playing in three games with a 1-1 record.
Canada finished fourth in last year’s event and was runner-up in 2008. They last won the tournament in 2007.
The team will be coached by legendary Oilers star Mark Messier. Oilers assistant Bill Moores will assist Messier.