Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
39-17-5-6, 89 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Oklahoma City Barons
33-23-2-8, 76 pts
#6 Western Conference
April 5th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

You've really got to admire what Todd Nelson has done with the Oklahoma City Barons since the lockout ended. If you'll recall, on January 6th, the NHL and the NHLPA reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement. That day, Coach Nelson watched three of his top scorers walk out of Allstate Arena bound for Edmonton. MVP Yann Danis started the season with the Oil too. Pretty much everyone in the league left them for dead.

Including that game, a 6-3 loss to the Wolves, the Barons have amassed a 15-11-1-5 record. Not exactly 'left for dead' numbers.

That record has helped them climb from the playoff bubble to firmly in the hunt. While they still own the worst penalty kill in the league, they've manged to hang on to the top power play in the land, 21.7%. Texas is just behind in third at 20.9%. The Barons score a lot as well, 3.18 per game on average. They also still allow a lot. However, in the past three months they won or gone past sixty enough to potentially make it to the postseason.

Meanwhile, who are these Texas Stars? At practice on Wednesday, one member of the Stars' off ice crew commented to me, "Who are these guys?" Fans might have a similar reaction tonight.

So it comes down to a question of chemistry. Texas got lucky with scheduling and a few other things. Dallas did all of its dealing on Tuesday. Additionally, Kevin Connauton was already in Texas with the Wolves. Brett Ritchie, Brock Montgomery, Curtis McKenzie and Cameron Gaunce have all gotten at least three practices in with the team to learn the systems and gel with their teammates.

This weekend's contests will be a fantastic test of Coach Desjardins' ability to quickly integrate new players and get them bought into his systems.

Stars injury/call up report:
Fraser, Chiasson (call up)

I am going to remove the callup for Roussel today and for the rest of the season since he is no longer eligible to play for Texas in the playoffs and is unlikely to be reassigned.

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