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Oklahoma City Barons: Busy schedule is tough physically and mentally on AHL teams

Plenty of sleep, proper nutrition are essential when teams play two, sometimes three, games in as many nights.
By Mike Baldwin Published: January 17, 2013

The Edmonton Oilers young stars that played in Oklahoma City for three months believe they'll have an advantage beyond honing their skills 34 games with the Barons.

Because the NHL lockout dragged out half the season, the league has squeezed 48 games into a 99-day window. Teams will be forced to play more frequently on back-to-back days.

That's unusual in the NHL, common in the American Hockey League.

“It seemed like we were playing two-in-twos or three-in-threes every time,” said forward Jordan Eberle, who has returned to Edmonton but still leads the AHL in scoring. “With the bus trips you definitely get an appreciation for the NHL. But they weren't that bad. But it's not the NHL.”

Unlike the NHL, most AHL games are back-to-backs to cut down travel costs. The league also schedules more weekend games to enhance attendance.

The Barons will play another back-to-back series Friday and Saturday at the Cox Convention Center when they host the San Antonio Rampage, a division rival they've already played seven times this season.

“It's a bit different in your preparation, but it's also the same,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “Every player has to prepare themselves for that night. It's the same for everybody. This basically is a weekend league.”

Include five times they play three games in three days and the Barons will play on back-to-back days 26 times this season.

Quick turnarounds account for 58 of Oklahoma City's 78 regular season games. That's roughly three-fourths of the schedule.

Team captain Josh Green, 35, has played for eight NHL teams, nine AHL teams. Having played 838 professional games in 16 pro seasons, Green has experienced the differences between AHL and NHL schedules.

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