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OKC Barons sitting on the playoff bubble

Barons in a three-way tie for seventh in the AHL's Western Conference, with the top eight teams making the playoffs.
By Mike Baldwin Published: March 21, 2013

The Oklahoma City Barons are sitting on the American Hockey League's version of “the bubble.”

The top eight teams in the Western Conference make the playoffs. The Barons are in a three-way tie for seventh, eighth and ninth.

Roughly one fifth of the season — 16 games — remains.

Team captain Josh Green said a key to the Barons making the playoffs for the third consecutive year is developing chemistry in a season in which the roster has undergone constant changes.

“It's not just the forward lines. It's the defensive pairings, too,” Green said. “Once you play with a guy, you get that chemistry. You don't have to talk. You know his tendencies. That's what we need coming down the stretch, some consistency.”

Consistency will start with Yann Danis, last year's AHL goaltender of the year. Danis has returned after spending much of the past two months with the Edmonton Oilers, the Barons' NHL affiliate.

Danis, who made his first start with OKC in four weeks, was a key to the Barons' playoff run last season, when they reached the Western Conference finals.

“We definitely have the group to do it,” Danis said. “It's just a matter of jelling at the right time and playing our best hockey at the right time. When I was gone, they got some good wins. We just need to build some confidence and we'll be fine.”

Roster shuffling is common in Triple-A sports. But this season has been unique because of the NHL lockout.

Barons general manager Bill Scott describes it as two seasons. The first three months was the first season, when some of Edmonton's top young stars played in OKC. The second season, post-NHL lockout, has seen a revamped roster of young prospects sprinkled with a few veterans.

“It was a neat experience for us to have those (NHL guys) here,” Scott said. “It was good for our guys to see. It showed them what it takes to play at that level, the speed of the game. All of our games were a lot higher tempo.

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Race to the finish

Ten teams in the American Hockey League's Western Conference are battling for the final four playoff spots.

GP, Team, Pts.

61, Houston, 70

61, Rochester, 70

59, Chicago, 67

60, Oklahoma City, 67

65, Abbotsford, 67

60, Milwaukee, 66

62, Rockford, 66

63, Peoria, 63

64, Lake Erie, 63

61, San Antonio, 61

Barons vs. Houston

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Cox Convention Center

Tickets: Starting as low as $10 at box office or by calling (405) 232-GOAL.

Radio: KXXY-FM 96.1

Scouting report: Barons forward Mark Arcobello (52 points) has passed Jordan Eberle (51) for the team scoring lead. Eberle compiled his points in three months before returning to Edmonton following the NHL lockout. ... Promoted midway through the season from Double-A, Toni Rajala is second on the Barons' roster with 26 points. ... Justin Fontaine (39 points) is Houston's second leading scorer. Top scorer Jason Zucker (41) was promoted to the Minnesota Wild. ... Houston has dominated the season series, winning seven of nine games, but three of the Aeros' wins were shootouts.


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