Pucking the trends: AHL betting news and notes

No NHL. No problem. Check out the latest betting news and notes from the young guns in the AHL.

Hot Team: Oklahoma City Barons

The addition of Taylor Hall to the Barons’ stable of Oilers prospects, which already includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and AHL scoring leader Justin Schultz, has turned Oklahoma City into the most feared opponent in the league.

In the last seven games, Hall has 14 points and the Barons are 6-0-1-0, averaging over four goals per game. After two convincing road victories over Charlotte this on the weekend, Oklahoma City trails the division-leading Checkers by only two points.

The Barons remain on the road against divisional opponents Houston and San Antonio before closing out 2012 with seven of nine games at home. They could be a difficult team to catch in the standings by then.

Cold Team: San Antonio Rampage

The Rampage hit the road this week, a welcome change after playing seven of their last eight games at home and going 0-6-0-2 in that span. The slump has knocked San Antonio to the bottom of the league with 11 points.

Scoring is a big concern for the Rampage, who are relying on rookies Drew Shore, Quinton Howden and John McFarland to carry the load. So far, only Shore seems comfortable in a scoring role, tied for the team lead with 14 points. Howden has seven points and McFarland has just three assists.

Jacob Markstrom, San Antonio’s star goaltender, is also struggling with the starting role he claimed last season. Markstrom has a goals-against average over 3.00, a save percentage under .900, and two wins in nine starts.

Prospect Watch: Milwaukee Admirals

Milwaukee should receive a boost to its mediocre season now that Ryan Ellis is back in the lineup. Ellis was sidelined with a broken wrist suffered in the offseason and his return will allow the Admirals more flexibility on their defense, taking some pressure off Jonathon Blum.

With eight points and a minus-7 rating through 17 games, Blum has been overshadowed by teammates like 2009 fourth-round pick Mattias Ekholm. But Ellis’ return has helped Blum simplify his game, and he has a plus-3 rating from the last two games because of it.

Ellis will provide more offense from the blueline (he already has 12 shots in his first four games) and complement the scoring of fellow OHL alumnus Austin Watson, who is tied for the team lead with 13 points as a rookie.

Surveying the schedule:

- The Texas Stars have a busy week on the road, with a stop at Rockford on Tuesday before playing back-to-back games in Grand Rapids on Friday and Saturday and travelling to Peoria for Sunday. The Stars end their midwest road trip in Milwaukee next Wednesday.

- The Syracuse Crunch conclude a five-game road swing this weekend with games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Friday), Connecticut (Saturday) and Binghamton (Sunday). With a 9-0-0-1 away record, the Crunch probably wish they could stay on the road forever.

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