By Jim Byers, on 03/25/2013

Recap of Week 24, March 19-23 (3 games, 1-1-0-1)

Season record: 30-23-2-7, 69 points, 4th, South Division; T-8th, Western Conference
•      THE WEEK PAST: The Barons earned 3 of 6 possible standing points with a win, a loss and a shootout loss. OKC hosted the Rochester Americans on Tuesday in the first meeting of the year between the teams. The Barons jumped out to a 2-0 lead, only to allow a pair of Rochester goals. The game went to a shootout, where the Americans’ Alex Biega tallied the only goal in the top of the fifth round in a 3-2 final. On Friday, the Houston Aeros never trailed in defeating the Barons 3-2 at the Cox Center in regulation. On Saturday, the Barons won their fourth straight road game, matching a season high, by rallying from a 2-0 deficit to beat the San Antonio Rampage 3-2 at the AT&T Center. OKC wrapped up the season series by winning 8 of 12 from the Rampage, including the final 3 out of 6 matchups at San Antonio. Each of the Barons’ last 5 games has finished with a 3-2 score, with OKC going 3-1-0-1 in those contests.
•      THE WEEK AHEAD: A 4-game road trip to end the month of March continues with a swing through the Midwest Division. The Barons visit the Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks) on Wednesday at 7 pm CDT at Allstate Arena. OKC and Chicago are part of a 4-way tie for the 8th-most points in the Western Conference with 69. Chicago beat the Barons 6-3 in the only previous matchup this season, Jan. 6 at Chicago. Including Wednesday, the teams meet 3 times in the season’s final 14 games. On Friday, the Barons make their only journey of the season to Carver Arena to take on the Peoria Rivermen (St. Louis Blues) at 7:05 pm. Peoria downed the Barons in the previous meeting 4-2 on Dec. 11 at the Cox Center. In their first 2 AHL seasons combined, the Barons are 3-1-1-1 at Carver Arena. The trip ends with a 7:05 pm game on Saturday at Rockford (Chicago Blackhawks) with the fourth and final get-together of the season between the Barons and IceHogs. The road team has won each previous clash, with OKC prevailing 4-3 on Jan. 26 at BMO Harris Bank Center. The IceHogs swept a March 8-9 set in OKC 4-3 (in a shootout) and 7-4. The Barons are 6-0-0-0 all-time at Rockford.
•      PLAYOFF PICTURE: Eight teams from each conference qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs: the 3 division winners plus the next 5 best teams in order of standing points. The Western Conference race, particularly for the bottom 4 seeds, is wide open with 4 weeks remaining in the regular season. Entering this week, 6 points separate 7 teams from No. 5 Houston to No. 11 Abbotsford. Houston has 75 points, 1 more than No. 6 Rochester’s 74. The Milwaukee Admirals are 6-0-1-0 in their last 7 and have climbed to 7th with 71. Four teams share the 8th-most points with 69: OKC, Chicago, Rockford and Abbotsford. The Barons have played fewer games to this point in the season than all Western Conference teams except Chicago, which has also completed 62 games. The Barons have 14 games remaining, 6 at home and 8 on the road, with 9 of those against teams even with or immediately above them in the standings (Rochester, Chicago, Abbotsford, Houston and Rockford).
•      PIVOTAL PERFORMANCES: Toni Rajala had a 7-game point streak (2G, 6A) snapped on Friday, but responded with the winning goal and an assist on Saturday. Rajala has points in 8 of the last 9, with 3 goals and 7 assists in that time. Philippe Cornet has 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) and a +8 rating in 24 games since rejoining the Barons from ECHL Stockton for a second time this season on Jan. 12. Jonathan Cheechoo has 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) and a +5 in 22 games with the Barons since joining the team Jan. 23. Cheechoo has accumulated his 23 points in 9 games, including 8 multi-point contests. Taylor Fedun has 3 goals in the last 7 games after going 35 games without lighting the lamp dating to tallies in back-to-back games against Milwaukee Nov. 16-17.
•      SPECIAL PROGRESS: The Barons have gone 3 straight games without allowing a power play goal, their longest streak of penalty killing perfection this season. OKC is 10-for-10 in its last 3 games on the PK. Prior to the current run, the Barons had 3 occasions this season where they were perfect on the penalty kill in 2 straight games. The Barons went 2-for-3 on the power play in Saturday’s 3-2 win at San Antonio. OKC has the league’s 2nd-best power play percentage at 21.5 and is 11-4-1-0 in games with 2 or more power play goals.
•               GOOD OMENS: OKC is 7-1-1-0 when Philippe Cornet scores a goal. The Barons are 5-0-0-0 when Jonathan Cheechoo scores a goal and 8-1-0-0 when he records at least 1 point. When C.J. Stretch scores a goal, the Barons are 3-1-0-0. Stretch has 4 goals and 2 assists in 10 games since signing a Professional Tryout contract with the Barons Feb. 26.
This week’s games (times listed as Central)
Date              Opponent            Time           Arena               Radio
March 27        Chicago               7:00 pm      Allstate Arena    KXY 96.1 FM
March 29        Peoria                  7:05 pm     Carver Arena     KXY 96.1 FM
March 30        Rockford              7:05 pm     BMO Harris Bank Center  KXY

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