Barons looking to climb AHL standings
Despite having plenty of NHL-caliber firepower on the roster, OKC is struggling on the penalty kill, leading to its lackluster record early in the season.
If the American Hockey League playoffs started Friday, the Oklahoma City Barons would be left out.
Not exactly the start that was expected for a roster some labeled an AHL dream team.
MILWAUKEE at BARONS
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Cox Convention Center.
Tickets: Available at the box office, starting at $10.
Radio: Friday on KXXY-FM 96.1, Saturday on KGHM-AM 1340.
Scouting report: This is the first two meetings of the season. The Barons and Admirals split four games last season. ... The Barons' Justin Schultz (18 points) and Jordan Eberle (16) lead the AHL in scoring. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (14) also is in the top 10. ... Taylor Beck (12 points) leads Milwaukee in scoring. ... The first 1,000 fans on Friday receive a Barons lunch pail. At Saturday's game, the Barons will give away another car, this time a GMC Acadia.
In ninth place in the Western Conference, the Barons view a two-game series against the Milwaukee Admirals on Friday and Saturday at the Cox Convention Center as an opportunity to move up the standings.
“There have been at least three or four games we could have easily won,” said Jordan Eberle, who led the Edmonton Oilers in scoring last season. “We're still trying to identify ourselves as a team. If you go back to that game (last Saturday) with Abbotsford, that's our identity.”
The Barons have NHL-tested talent. The Edmonton Oilers' stars playing in OKC during the lockout were featured on the cover of The Hockey News.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall were No. 1 overall picks in the 2011 and 2010 NHL drafts, respectively. Eberle played in last year's NHL All-Star Game. Rookie defenseman Justin Schultz leads the AHL in scoring.
Eberle, who had four assists in a 6-5 overtime loss to Toronto on Tuesday, sees some positive signs.
“We showed what can be in the second and third (periods),” Eberle said. “We just have to find that consistently. When we do, I think this team will really rise. It's still early in the season. We have two huge games this weekend. Get two wins and you climb the standings.”
Forward Mark Arcobello was on last year's Barons team that earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and reached the Western Conference finals.
“The game is not played on paper, it's played on the ice,” Arcobello said. “We have a lot of talent but we also need to do the little things. We have a lot of new faces here. It's tough to come together right away. It takes a little time. We're starting to jell. It's going to start clicking.”