If you completely ignore how often the Admirals play the Iowa Wild – it’s been a long time since we’ve had a good dosage of the AHL’s West Division. You have to go all the way back to January when the Admirals finished off their season series against the Charlotte Checkers to find a non-Iowa team from the West. I suppose that explains this upcoming road trip pretty well enough. After today’s game the Admirals are on the road for six-games. Of those games only one contest doesn’t feature a West Division team.
OK, I really wanted to use this clip for the song “Oklahoma” but I digress. The Oklahoma City Barons enter today’s game with a record of 34-17-3-3 (74 points). They are current on top of the West Division and, thanks to the now fifteen-game point streak of the Grand Rapids Griffins, are second in the Western Conference.
The Admirals could well be playing the Barons at the exact right moment in time. The Ads have been on the upswing and the Barons have been knocked around these last few games. In their last ten games the Barons have gone 4-6-0-0 and have lost their last two games by a combined score of 12-2. Both of those losses came courtesy of Midwest Division opponents.
In some short and sweet special teams stats: Barons power-play ranks 11th in the AHL with a 18.4% success rate (44/239) while allowing a pair of shorthanded goals on the season. Their penalty kill also ranks 11th in the AHL with an 85.2% kill rate (30/203) with a lone shorthanded tally recorded from the Barons.
~Who What Now?~
The Admirals played the Barons back in early-December and lost 5-3. The story from that game was a pair of rapid fire power-play goals scored by Anton “Moon” Lander and Brad Hunt. Combine that with a quality performance in net by Laurent Brossoit, stopping 33/36 shots, and you get the result with the Barons coming out on top.
With today’s game in Milwaukee, and Tuesday’s game in OKC, Lander will be a non-factor as he remains out with shoulder injury up with the Edmonton Oilers. In his place (possibly) is the recently acquired and familiar face to the Admirals, Brad Winchester. He was brought in from the Norfolk Admirals on Friday for future considerations. Winchester has not played since mid-January so, depending on how quickly he joins the Barons, he could well return to the ice this afternoon.
The Barons have three scorers at the 40 point plateau right now: Andrew Miller, 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists)… Jason Williams, 42 points (18 goals, 24 assists)… and the aforementioned Hunt with 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists). Close behind these three in team scoring is Matthew Ford, 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists).
Brossoit has been the primary man in net for the Barons this season. He has played in thirty-five games with a record of 18-13-2-1, 2.61 goals against average, 0.916 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. Not such a bad line for his first full-season in the AHL at the age of 21-years old.
Expectations for this game? With two games so close together between these two can we anticipate some rough stuff today? How do you think the Admirals are going to do when this long road trip starts up on Tuesday?