Friday, November 5, 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
6-4-0-0, 12 pts
#4 West Division
atOklahoma City Barons
7-4-1-0, 15 pts
#2 West Division
November 5th at 7:05 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

The Texas Stars make their first trip to Oklahoma City in the history of the team for a Friday night matchup this evening with the newly formed Oklahoma City Barons. The Barons, who the Stars did face in the preseason, are the newest AHL team and the farm squad for the Edmonton Oilers.

Oklahome City has done exceptionally well in the early going of the season, rising to the #2 overall ranking in the West Division. Their ascent in the West has been due in large part to the off-season signing of a familiar face for the Texas Stars in Alexandre Giroux. Fresh off a Calder Cup victory with the Hershey Bears, Giroux joined the Barons and has continued to score in bunches. The left winger leads the team with 6-6-12 in 12 games, but is even on the season in plus minus. Giroux recorded 2 goals and 4 assists in last year's Calder Cup Finals, including the OT game winner in the Stars' last home game of the series.

Other leading scorers on the team include rookie Linus Omark (4-7-11), Brad Moran (5-5-10) and Shawn Belle (1-9-10). Belle recorded 1 goal and 3 assists in the Hamilton Bulldogs 7 games against the Stars in last year's playoff run.

In nets for the Barons, there is a bit of a crowded mess. With Devyn Dubnyk winning the backup job in Edmonton, the Barons received NHL castoff Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers in addition to Martin Gerber. Between the two of them, they have 284 games of NHL experience (mostly Gerber). Gerber is 6-4-0 on the season with a 2.45 GAA and .913 SV%. The backup, currently, is Bryan Pitton. Pitton was the Oilers 5th round pick in 2006 and played most of his pro career in Stockton (ECHL) until this year. He may be forced out again with the assignment of Deslauriers this week.

The Barons are midpack in scoring in the AHL with 3 goals per game but rank in the top 10 on goals against with 2.67 against. Texas beats them by two ranks with a team GAA of 2.60. The Barons are fair to middling on the power play but boast one of the best PK units in the league on home ice (#5 at 91.3%) and overall (#3 at 92.9%). Texas, which has had some PP struggles as of late, may find that the Barons are no elixir to their man-advantage woes.

Overall, the Barons have outscored their opponents in the second and third periods but give up more than they get in the first. The same applies in the shots category. Oklahoma is a perfect 4-0 when leading after two. For the record, Texas has already accomplished a 3rd period comeback, something that took last year's team until March/April to achieve.

The Barons rank around the league average in attendance at approximately 4,300 a night.

Stars injury/call up report:
Blindenbacher, Sawada, McCulloch (injuries)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

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