The Condors are flying high in Bakersfield. As of last night, they are on a 14-game winning streak and lead the AHL Pacific Division with the playoffs looming.
It’s a complete contrast from the big club Edmonton Oilers who are struggling, again, for the better part of a decade, despite having the best player in the world on their team. Things are looking up for the big club’s future though as they’ve fired both the coach and the GM and will look to turn the page in 2019-2020.
The Condors sit in first place as of Friday night as they are one point ahead of second place San Jose Barracuda with a 29-15-2-1 record. The real story, however, is the fact that Condors are on a 14-game winning streak, they’ve gone from sitting outside of the playoffs at .500 to leading the division.
The team is benefitting from huge performances by young people in the organization. Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody have 40 points and 37 points respectively, with Marody on a PPG pace with 37 points in 37 games. It shines a light on the organization as both players should be competing for spots on the big club next season, especially with the Oilers being cap strapped and needing players on entry level contracts to fill some voids.
Both Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones were struggling to begin the year and since then have become integral parts to the Condors recent run. The Oilers have shored up their blueline this year and hopefully, these young men can stay in the AHL and gain confidence and experience playing big minutes.
Starting goaltender Shane Starrett has anchored the net for the Condors with a stellar 18-3-3-1 record with a 2.37GAA and .916SV% which are both good for top 10 in the AHL. He’s been the catalyst for the Condors winning streak and has been quite the surprise.
I’m hoping the Oilers don’t tamper with the Condors roster over the rest of the season. They shouldn’t mess with a winning formula and let these young guys gain some confidence, learn how to win and get ready for a long playoff run. However, I do think that Jesse Puljujarvi should be on this roster. If sent down, he’d be one of the youngest players on the roster and would be playing big minutes instead of sitting on the bench in the NHL.
I’d personally like to see the Oilers groom young guys in the farm system longer, they’ve had a track record of rushing young players up to the big club, however, in most cases, they haven’t had the choice. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Taylor Hall are all players that needed to be rushed to the NHL because they were simply better than most of the NHL roster.
It’ll be interesting to see how much longer the Condors can keep this winning streak and whether it will carry into the playoffs. It’s just nice to see some part of the organization doing good and that the news is finally getting around. Living in Edmonton, people are actually talking about the Condors and the hype around the winning streak is a breath of fresh air from the usual mediocre hockey we’ve been accustomed to in Edmonton.