The AHL is a weekenders league like most minor hockey leagues. And thus it’s rare when your team doesn’t play on a Friday night. And that’s where the Oklahoma City Barons find themselves today – no Friday game, but a brutal schedule forthcoming.
As they wait for back to back weekends of three-in-threes with four of six on the road, there are some important games to keep your eye on around the Western Conference that have a direct correlation to OKC’s playoff run.
[typography font=”Lobster” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Houston Aeros at Abbotsford Heat[/typography]
After Houston split one goal games against the Barons a week ago, the Aeros are beginning to distance themselves from OKC just a bit. With nearly identical wins/losses over the last ten games, the little asterisk for Houston is knowing that they’ve played three more games than OKC. Games in hand will be important over the next four weeks. Meanwhile, the Heat have hit the skids. On a seven game losing streak, they are a team that is heading south when you want your team moving north. Injuries and callups have crippled the squad, and they get no help in the near future as they play two games at home against Houston, then play seven straight on the road. Yikes.
How you should cheer?
Always, always cheer for teams to lose in your division when a playoff spot is on the line. Cheer for the Heat, as icky as that might be.
[typography font=”Lobster” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Chicago Wolves at Texas Stars[/typography]
The Texas Stars, as any OKC fan knows, are the bees knees of the Western Conference. They are a ferociously well-balanced team, and have whiplashed their luck compared to where they were in February of 2012. They are lethally dangerous, and are near enough to clinching an early playoff spot that they can smell it. Facing off against the Midwestern Chicago Wolves, will be an interesting affair. Chicago, like OKC, needs points, and they need them now. Will be hard to get them against Texas, but luckily for the Wolves, they always play well against the Stars. Both having just lost a game means that both will be looking to NOT start a losing streak.
How you should cheer.
I’ll make an exception to the rule above. Unless an absolute collapse occurs, I don’t see Texas losing footing in the South Division. Maybe, just maybe, they get clipped by Charlotte, but they still land softly at number two in the division with more points than any other team in the other two West Divisions. Sooooo, cheer the Stars to beat the Wolves. And watch how Chicago navigates the puck because the Barons will see that team three times in March and April.
[typography font=”Lobster” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Peoria Rivermen at Rockford IceHogs; Grand Rapids Griffins at Milwaukee Admirals[/typography]
The remaining two games in the West tonight all take place amongst Midwest opponents. Peoria, Rockford, and Milwaukee are in a dogfight for standing points as all three teams are within three points of each other. If there were a way for each team to lose, that’d be great. The reality is that Peoria is in trouble, have been for a while. It would be swell if Grand Rapids lost and Milwaukee lost. That way the playing field in their division gets level, and teams outside can come in, plunder the goods, and steal meaningless(?) points away.
How you should cheer.
Go with losses from Grand Rapids and Milwaukee.You want chaos outside of your division, trust. me.
The Barons hit the ice Saturday, Sunday, and Monday as they’ll make a wacky road swing through Cedar Park followed by lengthy travel to Charlotte. Egads that’s brutal travel in three days.
After last night’s shellacking of the Dallas Stars, the Edmonton Oilers travelled to St. Louis last night as they’ll play the Blue this evening. Will be interesting to watch how the Oil respond after such a huge victory in Big D. Will Magnus be involved?!?!?!