Oil Refinery: January 1, 2013 – Oklahoma City Barons vs. Houston Aeros

Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Well, I’ll be darned if the Oklahoma City Barons aren’t finally starting to roll a bit. As the winners of four straight games after last night’s 5-2 drubbing of the Texas Stars at home (thanks in large part to Jordan Eberle‘s natural hat trick and four points overall on the night), the Barons finished the 2012 portion of this season in second place in the AHL Western Conference’s South Division at 17-10-1-3 and now sit two points behind the Charlotte Checkers (18-11-1-3). A victory today will put the Barons into first place because they lead the season series against the Checkers 2-0 and will have played one fewer game than them.

Maybe it’s the hope that an abbreviated NHL season lies right around the corner and the Baby Oilers can smell it, or maybe it’s because they’re tired of letting the other squads keep up with them, but these Barons have been playing like a team possessed these past four games, outscoring their opponents 19-10.

Eberle and Justin Schultz continue to absolutely obliterate their competition and Taylor Hall continues to impress the longer he is in a Barons uniform now that he is fully recovered from that season-ending surgery earlier in 2012. Their power play is scoring exactly 25 percent of the time (34 goals in 136 chances) and their continually improving penalty kill unit is fending off just under 80 percent of the penalties they’re facing (113 kills in 142 chances).

These guys can smell blood, and apart from the Conference-leading Toronto Marlies, no one else in the West is dominating like the Barons are. It will be interesting to see how the Barons fare if the NHL saves its season and Hall, Schultz, Eberle and Co. get called up to the Edmonton Oilers, but for now, fans in Oklahoma City should rejoice at how well the Barons are performing.

With any luck, the efforts the Baby Oilers are giving in the first half of the season will be enough to help propel the Barons into the playoffs–even if they are also fighting to get the Oilers to the postseason by that point.

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