Oil Refinery: December 31, 2012 – Oklahoma City Barons vs. Texas Stars
Welcome to the New Year’s Eve edition of Oil Refinery! We are inching closer to possibly having some semblance of an NHL season in 2013, which should make Edmonton Oilers fans very happy if everything works out in the end, but in the meantime we have the AHL to try and hold us over!
Tonight we’re taking a look at the Oklahoma City Barons‘ latest opponent, who lately seems to be their only opponent: The Texas Stars. Tonight’s game will be Oklahoma City’s 5th in 11 days, and four of those will have been against Texas by the time this one is through. Texas is currently tied with the Houston Aeros for second place in the Western Conference’s South Division, while the Barons sit one point behind in 4th place. However, both Texas and Houston have played one more game than Oklahoma City has.
The Barons have won four out of five against the Stars this season, and overall have won their last three games and will be looking to extend their winning streak to four games.
With the World Junior Championship going on, OKC will continue to be without the services of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but they have plenty of firepower in their arsenal. In addition to Nugent-Hopkins, the Barons boast five current roster players who have scored at least 20 points this season: Jordan Eberle (43) and Justin Schultz (43) continue to remain tied for the team and league lead by a country mile, while Taylor Hall (29), Mark Arcobello, (26) and Teemu Hartikainen (21) round out the attack, with Magnus Paajarvi (19) about to break into the twenty-plus points category too.
Texas on the other hand will counter with just two twenty-point players: Cody Eakin (21) and Reilly Smith (20). The bright side for the Stars however is that as a team they have 12 active players who have scored in double figures in points, so as usual, the Barons will need to do the best they can keeping an eye on a number of players when they step onto the ice. The Barons have struggled to do this in recent games however, having yielded 10 goals to the Stars in their last two games.
If the Barons can keep control of themselves (which is unlikely given how much time they tend to spend in the sin bin) and execute on the power play when given the chance (which IS likely since they convert on nearly one out of every four power plays), they could ring in the New Year on a winning note. And as this is the first of four games they will playing in six nights, a win would be a great way to end the year and start this new stretch.