The Barons face a daunting challenge in a first-round playoff series against the Texas Stars, who posted the best record in the American Hockey League.
Oklahoma City, though, is not a typical No. 8 seed.
After the NHL regular season ended last weekend, the Edmonton Oilers reassigned team captain Anton Lander, plus Will Acton, Tyler Pitlick, Steve Pinizzotto and Oscar Kelfbom to Oklahoma City.
“If we had continuity the whole year, our record would be a lot stronger,” said coach Todd Nelson, whose team finished the regular season with a 36-29-11 mark. “Just getting into the playoffs was an outstanding achievement for this team. With all the guys back, we’re stronger than we’ve been at any point this season.”
Led by Travis Morin, the AHL Most Valuable Player who led the league in scoring, the Stars were the hottest team the final month of the regular season. Texas was on a 12-0-1 roll before it lost the regular-season finale Saturday night. The Stars sat some of their top players during a loss to Abbotsford.
In contrast, Oklahoma City underwent 152 roster transactions. Defenseman Taylor Fedun is one of only five players that appeared in more than 60 games for the Barons.
“They were consistently at the top of the league all season, but we’ve been a different team the past two months,” Fedun said. “We’re even stronger now that we’ve got some key pieces back. I think we’re a team to be reckoned with.”
A couple of players pointed out the Los Angeles Kings a couple of years ago won the Stanley Cup as a No. 8 seed.
“You can’t really look too much at the seeds. It’s all about who clicks at the right time,” said Barons forward Steve Pinizzotto. “This team has been playing well for a couple of months. Having a really good goalie like we have is huge.”
Richard Bachman didn’t notch dazzling stats. But the goaltender has started nearly every game during a 20-7-5 season-ending run to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.