By Jim Byers, on 04/26/2013

 (4) Charlotte Checkers (42-26-4-4) at (5) Oklahoma City Barons (40-25-2-9)    

Calder Cup Playoffs  |  Series “H” Western Conference Quarterfinals  |  Game 1
April 26, 2013, 7 pm CDT  | Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK
Radio: KXY 96.1 FM
AHL Media Kit:
TONIGHT: The Barons open a best-of-5, first-round Calder Cup playoff series with the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes). Charlotte is the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, having attained 92 regular-season points. OKC is the No. 5 seed, rallying in the season’s final weeks to reach 91 points. These teams split 8 regular-season matchups, with one of OKC’s losses in overtime. The Barons were 1-2-1-0 against the Checkers at the Cox Center this season. Game 2 of the series is tomorrow before the scene shifts to Charlotte for the remainder of the games.
Remaining Series Schedule (all times Central):
Date         Opp.            Site                                         Time Broadcast
April 27    Charlotte     Cox Center                                  7:00    KXY 96.1 FM
May 1       Charlotte     Time Warner Cable Arena           6:00    KXY 96.1 FM
May 3*     Charlotte     Time Warner Cable Arena           6:00    KXY 96.1 FM
May 4*     Charlotte     Time Warner Cable Arena           6:00    KXY 96.1 FM
* If necessary
PLAYOFF PATTER: This is the first playoff series between the Barons and Checkers, which each entered the AHL for the 2010-11 season. Last season, OKC defeated Houston 3-1 in the opening round and San Antonio 4-1 in the conference semi-finals, winning the final 4 against the Rampage including Games 2-4 in overtime. OKC was eliminated 4 games to 1 in the Western Conference Finals against Toronto. In their inaugural season, the Barons met Hamilton in a best-of-7 opening-round series, dropping the set 4-2. Teemu Hartikainen was returned on loan from Edmonton yesterday. In 2 regular-season stints with the Barons, Hartikainen was fifth on the team with 37 points (14G, 23A) in 47 games.
FINISHING WITH A FLOURISH: The Barons finished the regular campaign by winning 3 straight, 4 of their last 5 and 6 of their final 8 contests, all while compiling a 13-3-0-3 mark in their final 19 games. OKC did not allow more than 3 goals in any of their last 19 games, with Yann Danis playing 15 of those. Since returning from the Edmonton Oilers in mid-March, Danis went 10-2-3 with 2 shutouts, a 1.78 goals-against average and .931 save percentage. After not shutting out an opponent in the season’s first 71 games, the Barons lodged 3 shutouts in the final 5 outings: April 14 at Hamilton (4-0, Danis, 24 saves); April 19 vs. Abbotsford (1-0, Danis, 24 saves); and April 21 vs. Houston (3-0, Niko Hovinen, 20 saves). After halting a club-record 5-game losing streak on Jan. 19 (0-4-1-0 from Jan. 6-18), the Barons went the final 37 games of the regular season without losing back-to-back games in regulation, going 22-9-0-6. Their .676 standing point percentage in that span, dating to Jan. 19, is the second-best in the AHL behind Providence’s .800.
SPECIAL PK: The Barons did not allow a power play goal in their final 7 regular-season games, going 17-for-17 on the penalty kill in that span. The PK was perfect in 16 of the last 17 games at 43-for-44. The Barons’ PK percentage, while 30th in the AHL, rose from 76.2 prior to the March 19 game to its season-ending 79.3. The Barons owned the league’s top power play percentage at 21.6. OKC went 26-11-2-3 when scoring at least 1 power play goal and 14-4-1-0 when notching 2 or more.
SHOT CHART: OKC out-shot the opposition in 14 of the last 15 games and limited the opponent to 28 shots or fewer in 14 of the last 16 games. The Barons averaged the 8th-most shots per game (31.1) while allowing the 8th-fewest at 29.2. OKC went 28-12-2-2 when out-shooting the opposition this season.
PIVOTAL PERFORMERS: Mark Arcobello led the Barons during the regular season with 68 points (22 goals, 46 assists), the third-best single-season point total in the club’s 3 seasons in the AHL. Arcobello finished tied with Chad Kolarik of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for third in the AHL in points behind Rockford’s Brandon Pirri (75) and Hershey’s Jeff Taffe (71). Arcobello is the club’s all-time leader in goals (50), assists (83) and points (133). Martin Marincin finished in a multiple-way tie for 11th in the AHL in plus-minus at +20. Toni Rajala was tied for 19th at +18. From Jan. 11, when he was recalled from ECHL Stockton for the second and final time, through the end of the season, Rajala was 3rd in the AHL with 43 points in 41 games (16 goals, 27 assists). For the season, counting 5 games in November, Rajala finished tied for 10th in rookie scoring with 45 points, on 17 goals and 28 assists. Chris VandeVelde had 2-goal games in each of the last 2 regular-season contests, the second and third multi-goal games of his AHL career. OKC went 9-0-0-0 when Jonathan Cheechoo scored a goal and 14-1-0-0 when he had a point. Cheechoo had multiple points in 10 of his 35 games after signing his first of 2 PTOs on Jan. 20.
FAMILIAR TERRITORY: The Barons are one of 6 teams to have qualified for the Calder Cup playoffs each of the past 3 seasons. The others are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hershey, Manchester, Houston and Milwaukee.
THREE 40S: The Barons have reached 40 or more wins in each of their 3 seasons in the AHL after going 40-25-2-9 this season. They were a Western Conference-best 45-22-4-5 last season and 40-29-2-9 in 2010-11. Last year was the first season the Edmonton Oilers’ top affiliate, shared or exclusive, reach 40 wins in consecutive seasons.
THREE SEVENS: OKC’s season high for goals in a game is 7, achieved 5 times including twice against Charlotte. The Barons defeated the Checkers 7-2 on Nov. 25 at Time Warner Cable Arena and 7-3 on Feb. 1 at the Cox Center. The Checkers lit the lamp 7 times against OKC once, in a 7-0 win on Jan. 11 at the Cox Center, the second-most goals scored against the Barons this season behind an 8-2 setback Jan. 25 at Milwaukee
COMMON THREADS: The Checkers’ Riley Nash and the Barons’ Alex Plante were 2 of Edmonton’s 3 first-round picks in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Plante was taken 15th overall and Nash, who attended Cornell and never played professionally in the Oilers’ organization, went 21st. Edmonton’s highest first-rounder in 2007, current Oiler Sam Gagner, was selected 6th overall. Justin Krueger, son of Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger,is a Checkers defenseman. Defenseman Keegan Lowe, son of Oilers’ President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe, is a Carolina draftee taking part in the Western Hockey League playoffs with the Oilers-owned Edmonton Oil Kings.
SCORE FOUR AND (USUALLY) WIN: When the Barons scored 4 or more goals in a game this season they went 27-2-1-1. When OKC allowed 3 goals or fewer, they went 36-11-0-4.
Last 5 Games:
Date        Opp.     Result    OKC Goalie (GA,SV) Opp. Goalie               Attn. 
April 14    @ Ham  W, 4-0      Danis (0, 24)                 Ger.-Chouinard (4, 36) 4,369
April 16    @ Tor    L, 1-2       Danis (2, 30)                 MacIntyre (1, 30)          6,160
April 19    Abb       W, 1-0      Danis (0, 24)                 Brust (1, 30)                 4,684
April 20    Abb       W, 7-3      Danis (3, 21)                 Irving (7, 30)                 4,365
April 21    Hou       W, 3-0      Hovinen (0, 20)             Harding (L) / Condon)   3,527

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