The Oklahoma City Barons (8-5-1-1, 2nd in the South Division) travel to the Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, Texas tonight to face off against the Texas Stars (6-6-0-1, 4th in the South Division) for the second time this season. The Barons won the first matchup 4-2 back on October 28th at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City on the strength of Justin Schultz’s two power play goals, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ two power play assists, the Barons going 2 for 4 on the power play and goaltender Olivier Roy saving 27 of the 29 shots he faced.
Right now the only thing Texas has going for them is the fact that they have allowed the second-fewest goals (37) in the Western Conference, and even this is made less impressive when you consider their team save percentage is only a paltry .886% and they have only played 13 games, which is tied for the fewest played in the American Hockey League. Cody Eakin leads the way with ten points (6G, 4A) and Tomas Vincour has nine (3G, 6A), but they have no offense to speak of beyond these two pedestrian performers. They have scored the fewest goals in the AHL (28) and average the fewest number of goals per game (2.15).
On paper there is no reason why the Barons should not win this matchup, which is what makes it the perfect trap game and creates all the more reason for the Barons to bring their A game tonight. Schultz (8-13-21) and Jordan Eberle (6-13-19) continue to lead the AHL in scoring, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is in a tie for third in scoring himself (7-10-17), but the Barons are not invincible and are not guaranteed to score points, despite convincingly winning their most recent games against the Milwaukee Admirals last weekend.
This red-hot trio will need to pepper Texas’s goaltenders with shots, and the Barons’ defense will need to be wary of a Stars squad that averages over 30 shots a game if they hope to win this game. It will also be imperative that the Barons not get caught looking ahead to this Saturday’s and Sunday’s matchups with the South Division-leading Charlotte Checkers, who lead the AHL with 24 points (11-3-0-2), and keep their head in the game against Texas.