To Rampage head coach Chuck Weber, there were a lot of lessons to be learned from opening weekend. The Rampage split their first pair of games at AT&T Center, falling to the Texas Stars, 2-1, on Saturday and bouncing back for their first win of the year against the Houston Aeros, 3-2, on Sunday.
This weekend, the Rampage will take their first road trip of the year to square off against Oklahoma City on Friday night at 7 p.m., before returning home on Saturday night for a 7 p.m. tilt against Milwaukee.
Weber said he believes the Rampage are beginning to find their identity, which will be key against the Barons, who boast a large crop of top-end talent due to the NHL lockout.
He took sometime after practice Wednesday to talk about what he saw over the weekend and what he wants to see come Friday night in Oklahoma City.
What did you think of the first weekend?
We have got to stay out of the penalty box. I think we would have had an opportunity to sweep the weekend, but we were our own worst enemy. I think we saw that there are a lot of things we need to work on. There were some bright spots, but at the same time I think we realize we have a lot of work ahead of us.
Despite the number of penalties, the penalty kill was successful over the weekend. Is that still a positive?
Staying out of the box completely is a big thing. Anytime you give teams more than four or five opportunities, it will come back to bite you. I think our penalty kill was just OK, but our goaltending was fantastic. Our goaltending bailed us out of a lot of our mistakes over the weekend. We need to make sure we’re sharper in all aspects of the game.
The team’s physical style of play did seem to affect Houston. Was that what you were going for?
I don’t think we necessarily pushed them around, but we’re definitely two different styles of play. They’re more based on speed and wide-open play, while we’re built more on physicality and puck possession. I think we’re both very young teams and there’s going to be a development curve for both of us. I think come the holidays we’ll both be a lot better teams.
You’re going from facing a very talented team in Houston to facing arguably the most talented team in the league right now in Oklahoma City. Does that change your approach at all?
You approach every game the same. You have to play to your identity. Puck management is going to be key, as Oklahoma City is a team based on transition. We have to make sure that we take care of the puck. Yes, they do have a very talented team but most of our guys have played against their top players at one point or another in juniors or college. It’s up to us to go up there and play our style of game and make sure we’re effective right from the opening.
Did you work on anything specific leading into Friday night?
We did a lot of special teams today. Every day we want to work on a facet of our identity. But other than that we’ll get a quick skate in Thursday then we’ll hit the road for Oklahoma City.