LAST 10: Oklahoma City 4-5-0-1; San Antonio 4-6-0-0
Season Series: Tonight is the seventh of 12 meetings this season between Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Of the six previous meetings, each team has won three times with the winner in each case being the home team. Most recently, the Barons took two on home ice on December 14 and 15.
Big Story: The Barons can make a significant move up the standings with a win tonight. A victory would move them into a tie with Abbotsford for fourth in the Western Conference and only three points behind Charlotte for top spot in the South Division and Western Conference. Depending on results around the league tonight, a loss could push the Barons out of the playoff picture and into ninth.
Barons: The Barons have been the very definition of hot and cold in December and late November. After a stretch of five straight wins, they lost five in a row and now have picked up at least a point in five of their last six games (4-1-0-1). In the tight Western Conference, the club has shuffled anywhere from fourth to 11th during their roller coaster run.
Rampage: San Antonio got off to a disastrous start to the season and are still paying for it. They only won four of their last 17 games and despite a stretch in late November and early December that saw them pick up at least a point in eight of 10 games, they are languishing in 14th spot in the Western Conference with 25 points. The Rampage had most recently lost six in a row leading up to the Christmas break but then won over the league's worst team, Hamilton, 5-2 on December 22.
Who's Hot: Since Ryan Nugent-Hopkins departed for the World Juniors, Mark Arcobello has filled in admirably in his spot. Playing primarily with Jordan Eberle and on the first power play unit, Arcobello has points in eight of his last 10 games (3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points). Justin Schultz and Eberle are both tied for the lead in the AHL in points with 42. Schultz also has 16 goals which ranks third in the AHL -- only four off John Slaney's all-time mark for goals by a rookie AHL defenceman.
Puck Drop: The Barons continue to hold the best power play in the AHL and at home it has been beyond stellar. On home ice, OKC is 20-for-61 for a 32.8% success rating. The next closest team is Abbotsford at 24.3%.
- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
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