Bolstered by some of the Edmonton Oilers' top young stars, the Oklahoma City Barons were an offensive juggernaut during the NHL lockout last season. But the offensive firepower didn't make a huge impact on the standings.
The Barons scored 111 goals in 34 games when Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were in OKC. The Pittsburgh Penguins, averaging 3.38 goals per game, were the only NHL team to average more goals than the Fab Four-led Barons (3.26).
But because the Barons also allowed 101 goals the first three months, Oklahoma City was in eighth place in the Western Conference standings when the NHL lockout ended.
Surprisingly, the Barons were the American Hockey League's hottest team after Eberle, Schultz and Co. returned to the NHL.
Oklahoma City was 18-12-4 during the NHL lockout, 22-13-7 the final three months.
It was a reminder the best formula for winning hockey games is good goaltending and solid defense.
Taylor Fedun, Brandon Davidson and Martin Marincin, three young defensemen that played key roles in the Barons' run to the Western Conference finals, return for the 2013-14 season, which begins Friday and Saturday at the Cox Convention Center against the Charlotte Checkers.
OKC's defense also features Oscar Klefbom, a 20-year-old first-round pick that might join the Oilers at some point this season; Joey Leach, 21, who posted an astonishing plus-96 rating in five WHL seasons; and Brad Hunt, 25, who played the past two seasons with the AHL Chicago Wolves.
“I think our defensive corps is going to be our strong point,” Davidson said. “We have some young guys coming in but very talented young guys like Oscar Klefbom who played well over in Europe.”
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