Arguably the most interesting playoff series of the Western first round would be Abbotsford vs. Oklahoma City in a five game grudge match. Simply put, these teams matchup well at times, but the firepower of the Barons offense is too much to swallow for Heat goaltenders. But even more than the player-by-player matchup is the Heat-Flames and Barons-Oilers affiliations that have deemed this rivalry the “Baby Battle of Alberta”. Although it’s not been a stout competition nor anything resembling a persnikity rivalry, the games are fun to watch. Owning a 9-3-0-0 record against Abbotsford over the last two seasons, there is reason to believe that the Barons might soar through a first rounder with the Heat. Even more cretankerous for the Heat is their inability to dismantle the Barons in Abbotsford. So much so that the Heat haven’t beaten the Barons in Western Canada in six attempts. That’s painful.
Likewise, the firepower that fuels the Barons offense against the Heat is almost fully in tact (or will be soon). Josh Green and Linus Omark have played in only four games this season against the Heat and both have over a point a game on that pace. Linus Omark 2 goals and 5 assists and Josh Green with 3 goals and 2 assists. That’s a remarkable total for only having played four games against the Heat.
In 8 games total this season the Barons have whalloped the Heat with 23 goals and only allowing 13. The +10 differential is a favorable stat to consider in the postseason as the Barons try to ramp up their offensive arsenal with the soon return of Omark to OKC.
In the end, it’s simply about how the team matches up. Neither squad scores a lot of goals, and both are struggling over the last two weeks to win in regulation. Does the past dictate a swift series between these two? I’d say, yes, given the poor play by the Heat on their home ice and their knack for sloppy defense (which lately sounds like the Barons). Couple that with the potential-in-waiting of the Swedes it might be a showcase for Barons dominance. But one has to consider if the Calgary Flames DON’T make the playoffs and T.J. Brodie and Lance Bouma are returned to Abbotsford, what does that do for the Baby Flames chances. It greatly increases their chances because Bouma brings the offensive-defense and Brodie the defensive puck moving that aids greatly in the postseason. A scenario that likely could play out.
Predicted outcome: Barons Win In Four