PREVIEW: Barons vs. Texas
This weekend, Barons play first two of four over the next 10 days against Texas
|ONLINE TV: AHL Live (PPV)
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PUCK DROP: 6:00 p.m. MST
LAST 10: Oklahoma City 4-4-0-2; Texas 7-1-1-1
Season Series: Tonight is the third of 12 meetings this season between Oklahoma City and Texas. OKC has won the previous two with a 4-2 win on October 28 at home and a 6-4 win on November 21 in Cedar Park, TX.
Big Story: The Barons and Stars come into this game separated by two points in the standings. Texas is tied for fourth in the Western Conference with 32 points and OKC is in seventh with 30. The two games head-to-head this weekend at the Cox Convention Center could decide who's sitting pretty and who's on the outside looking in in the AHL's South Division and Western Conference depending on the results.
Barons: After going winless for five games, the Barons exploded with a pair of home-ice wins last weekend against San Antonio. In the tight Western Conference, the Barons had won five in a row prior to their slide (and picked up points in six of seven). That streak moved them from 11th up to 4th in the Western Conference then the five-game winless streak saw them fall back down to 10th. On Sunday, the Barons dropped a shootout decision to Houston but they look to get back on the winning track tonight.
Stars: Texas got off to a bit of a rocky start this season but since about mid-November they have been among the top teams in the AHL. Texas won their first two games of the year but then lost seven of eight after that. Since that time, they have gone 11-2-2-1. The Stars also have only one regulation loss since falling to OKC at home on November 21. Their last loss in regulation was on December 1 against Grand Rapids (3-2) with points in seven-straight games since.
Who's Hot: Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz share the AHL point lead with 38. Eberle tops the league with 19 goals, 13 in the last 11 games. He’s the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for November. Eberle enters tonight leading the AHL in shooting percentage at 27.5. Schultz leads the AHL with 24 assists and 17 power play points. The CCM/AHL Player of the Month for October and Rookie of the Month in November, Schultz has collected multiple points in 13 of 26 games played, including 9 contests with 2 assists. Schultz’s 24 assists are more than half-way to the AHL rookie record for assists by a defenceman, 47, by Mike Gaul of Hershey in 1997-98. He’s 6 goals away from matching the rookie defenceman goal scoring record (20), set by John Slaney of Baltimore in 1992-93. ... Justin Schultz has points in 14 of the last 15 games, collecting 8 goals and 15 assists in that span. Schultz had a 10-game point streak from Nov. 10-Dec. 8, which remains the second-longest in the AHL this season, and a 9-game point run from the season opener though Nov. 3.
Injury Report: Antti Tyrvainen (wrist) is out. Dan Ringwald (arm) is out. Kristians Pelss (suspension) is out. Brandon Davidson (cancer treatment) is out. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is at camp for Team Canada's World Junior squad.
Puck Drop: OKC is in a stretch where 13 of 14 games are against Texas-based teams spanning Nov. 29-Jan. 1. The only break was a Dec. 11 home game against Peoria. Thirty-six of OKC’s 76 games are against Texas clubs. The Barons are a combined 6-5-0-3 against Texas teams, 5-1-0-1 at home. Four of the Barons' next five games are specifically against the Texas Stars so this weekend marks an opportunity to make some moves in the standings.
- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com, with files from Jim Byers.