PREVIEW: Barons at Houston
Barons open up 2013 with a road date in Houston
|ONLINE TV: AHL Live (PPV)
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PUCK DROP: 4:00 p.m. MST
LAST 10: Oklahoma City 6-3-0-1; Houston 4-4-1-1
Season Series: Tonight is the seventh of 12 meetings this season between Oklahoma City and Houston. Houston has done well against the Barons, winning six out of seven so far this year although three of those wins have come in a shootout.
Big Story: The Barons and Aeros come into this game separated by one point in the standings in the tight Western Conference and South Division. The Barons have 38 points with a record of 17-10-1-3 and the Aeros have 37 points with a record of 16-10-2-3. The Barons could move into a tie for first place in the South Division with Charlotte with a win or they could slip to third in the South if Houston defeats them in regulation.
Barons: The Barons have won each of their last four games and with a win tonight could match their season-high of five straight victories. Overall, the Barons have picked up at least a point in seven of their last eight games (6-1-0-1).
Aeros: The Aeros have struggled as of late, dropping five of their last eight games with their last regulation win coming back on December 11. Since the Christmas break, each of their last three games have been decided in overtime. On Saturday they fell 2-1 in San Antonio while winning in OT on December 26 and 28 against Texas and Charlotte respectively. Mikael Granlund has struggled since returning from injury but appears to finally be finding his stride. Before the injury, Granlund had 12 points in eight games (4g, 8a). After returning, he had only two points (1g, 1a) in eight games but now in his last three, he has three goals and an assist for four points.
Who's Hot: The Barons went 6-4-0-1 in December while boasting 4 of the AHL’s top 11 scorers for the month. Jordan Eberle led all December scorers with 20 points (11G, 9A). Mark Arcobello was third with 17 (3G, 14A), while Taylor Hall was tied for fourth with 16 (7G, 9A) and Justin Schultz tied for 8th (along with 3 others) with 14 points (6G, 8A). December marked the second straight month Eberle led the AHL in scoring. He had 21 November points while being that month’s CCM/AHL Player of the Month.
Injury Report: Antti Tyrvainen (wrist) is out. Dan Ringwald (arm) is out. Kristians Pelss (suspension) is out. Brandon Davidson (cancer treatment) is out. Chris VandeVelde (suspension) is out. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is in Ufa, Russia for the World Junior Tournament.
Puck Drop: OKC is No. 1 in overall power play percentage at 24.8, with 34 goals in 137 opportunities. The Barons are 5-for-25 (20%) on the man advantage in 6 games against Houston. OKC has killed 75 of its last 88 times short spanning 20 games (85.2) after killing 38 of 54 times short over its first 11 games (70.4%). OKC’s season PK rate of 79.6 is tied for 28th. Houston is 7-for-29 (24.1) on the man advantage against OKC. Taylor Hall is tied with 3 others for the AHL lead in power play goals with 7.
- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com, with files from Jim Byers.