The Oklahoma City Barons had a pretty solid week when the dust settled on Sunday evening. Winning five out of a possible six points, all of them on the road, is exactly how the team needed to handle business.
The four to one victory over Houston on Wednesday, where Taylor Fedun scored twice, kicked off a solid five day road trip. That game featured the Barons dominating the puck for nearly 45 minutes and scoring three times in the second period. This would keep the Aeros from stretching their slight lead in the West, and further push the Barons up the hill in the standings.
On Friday night, the Barons would give away too many chances in the second period, including a short hander that should never have happened, as they’d lose to the Rochester Americans in an eventual shootout. Tyler Pitlick scored only his second of the year, and a mid-third-period goal by Anton Lander nearly was enough, but the creatively absent shootout undid OKC. Rochester would win, 3-2 despite being out shot by eleven.
Sunday evening games can be tough, but luckily the Barons were playing the Hamilton Bulldogs. Having a terribly awful season, Hamilton was man-handled by the Barons in all facets of the game. Jonathan Cheechoo, Mark Arcobello, and Toni Rajala each had a goal and an assist, and the quarterbacking being done by Brandon Davidson and newcomer Garrett Stafford was superb. The Barons would keep Hamilton off the scoreboard for what would be Yann Danis first shutout of the season. The final 4-0 score reflected every bit how good the Barons have become, but equally as revealing, how bad Hamilton has become in the back half of the 2012-13 season.
So here the Barons stand, a solid road trip, four games remaining, three at home, and owners of their own destiny. The journey from here gets interesting, but only if the team chooses to make it that way.
Here’s the great blessing in disguise – the Barons have four games remaining. Rockford, immediately behind OKC in the Western 8th spot, is down two points (83) to OKC (85), and they only have two games remaining. Meaning that OKC is in full control of whether or not they make a spot in the playoffs. At 7th, and the competition remaining, the Barons will get the job done. However, it’s a matter of “where” that leaves the big question mark.
The one piece that isn’t moving is the Texas Stars, who have already locked down on that first overall in the West. From 2nd to 8th things are tight, and the final game for each club in the West will determine their playoff seeding.
The Barons face the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday, the Abbotsford Heat on Friday/Saturday, and then the final game of the season against the Houston Aeros. Abbotsford has been eliminated from playoff contention, and the games against Toronto and Houston will be key match-ups for playoff positioning.
Buckle your seat belts, folks. Things could get interesting.