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.
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.
Defensive lapses and the penalty-killing units have prevented the Barons from building momentum.
“It's a really new team with a lot of new faces,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It takes a while to kind of get accustomed to each other. We just need to put it all together. Obviously they were a great team last year, and that's what we want to be this year.”
The most glaring stat is Oklahoma City ranks 29th in the 30-team AHL in penalty killing (72.1 percent). Last year the Barons finished second in the league (85.6 percent).
OKC is 3-1 in games it hasn't allowed a power-play goal but has won only three of nine games when surrendering a power-play goal.
“This is unchartered territory for us,” said coach Todd Nelson. “We're improving. It's coming. The last two games we've allowed only one power-play goal. That's a start. We just have to play better in the D-zone, pop sticks and not let them get sticks on pucks.”
Oklahoma City last season allowed 50 power-play goals. In 13 games, the Barons already have allowed 17.
“Special teams are such an important part of the game,” Eberle said. “We're going to get four or five power plays a game and then the penalty kill. That's almost half the game. You have to be able to kill.”