Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the very first, post-Mayan-nonsensical-end-of-the-world-that-was-nothing-more-than-a-hysteria-inducing-tourism-stunt edition of Oil Refinery. It might actually be the end of the NHL as we know it thanks to everything that’s going on with the lockout, but at least we still have the AHL.
The Oklahoma City Barons (13-9-1-3) face off against the Texas Stars (14-8-2-2) tonight at home. Despite winning two of their three games last weekend and picking up five out of six possible points (they lost in a shootout on Sunday to the Houston Aeros, 4-3), the Barons find themselves in 4th place in the South Division, while the Stars sit in second.
The Barons had a solid weekend on special teams, and this made all the difference for them. For the season they are now 27 for 113 on the power play (23.8%) and have killed 96 of 121 penalties (79.3%). They have broken out of their recent power play slump and are lighting the lamps once again, while they continue to do an admirable job on the penalty kill after a horrific first month in this category.
Justin Schultz (14G, 24A) and Jordan Eberle (19G, 19A) both continue to lead the Barons in points, and now are tied for the league lead in the AHL with 38 points apiece. Taylor Hall (8-15-23), Mark Arcobello (7-13-20), Teemu Hartikainen (8-11-19), Magnus Paajarvi (4-13-17) and Martin Marincin (3-10-13) are the remaining points leaders among active members of the Barons roster. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to prepare with Team Canada for the World Junior Championships which takes place in Russia starting next week.
The Stars are led by Cody Eakin‘s 18 points, Reilly Smith‘s 14 points and Travis Morin‘s 14 points. Five more Stars players have scored at least 10 points this season.
Both teams have played fewer games than the other teams in their division and so will be looking to win both games this weekend in an effort to gain ground on the teams they are trailing, or to put further distance between themselves and the teams that trail them in the standings.
We survived the Mayan Apocalypse and a new day is dawning! Perhaps this will be the start of something new for the Barons as they march to the top of their division and hopefully a playoff berth in 2013!