Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
6-6-0-1, 13 pts
#10 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
8-5-1-1, 18 pts
#6 Western Conference
November 21st at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Oklahoma City Barons visit the Cedar Park Center for the first time this year tonight. Previously touted as the team to beat in the Western Conference, let alone the entire AHL, the Barons are hardly even the top of their own division as we near the quarter-pole of the season. That honor goes to the Charlotte Checkers at 24 points, a mark the Barons are behind by six. They are hotly followed by Houston just one point behind. Texas is five behind the Barons but has two games in hand.

The talented roster hasn't had a problem, at least recently, getting the puck into the net. It's mostly been a problem of keeping it out. The Barons are at three goals for per game and three goals against per game overall on the season so far.

Texas's Patrik Nemeth and Toby Petersen work to earn the puck against OKC's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Teemu Hartikainen (Image credit: Steven Christy)

That's a pretty nasty recapitulation from last year's club that helped their goalie, Yann Danis, to the best record in the AHL and Goalie of the Year honors. This year, Danis is a rather pedestrian 6-4-1 with a 2.76 GAA and .914 SV%. His backup, Olivier Roy, is 2-2 with a 3.05 GAA and .898 SV%.

After stymieing the #1 ranked Charlotte PP, Texas will get the honor of facing the #2 ranked PP tonight. Clicking at 25% and featuring a top line with three top-ten draft picks, the power play is not to be trifled with. The Stars take the fewest penalties in the league, but anything could be costly against this unit. Zip those lips and be on your best behavior. Texas is humming along at 95% on their last twenty penalty kills.

The OKC penalty kill, on the other hand, is definitely a weakness to exploit. The Barons are top ten in penalty minutes taken per game and are tied with the Stars for the worst overall penalty kill in the league (75.4%). The arc of Texas's PK is bending upwards; OKC is as well, killing 14 of their last 15.

Names to watch for tonight include defenseman Justin Schultz (8-13-21) and forwards Taylor Hall (3-3-6 in 7 GP), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (7-10-17), and Jordan Eberle (6-13-19). Those four plus Teemu Hartikainen (4-8-12) form the first power play unit. reports that the Barons have injuries to Tanner House, Tyler Pitlick and Antti Tyrvainen. Cameron Abney and Toni Rajala were called up to fill those gaps.

The Barons come in to CPC having won their last two in a row, both against Milwaukee, and having collected points in their last four.

Stars injury/call up report:

Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey