The shame of the Edmonton Oilers’ season has led to heads rolling, with more to come, but there is one bright spot, the possibility that the teams top prospects might conquer the American Hockey League in the coming Calder Cup playoffs.
The Condors had the third best winning percentage in the AHL regular season, 0.654. Their +60 goal goal differential was behind only Syracuse, +77, and Charlotte, +66. They’re both in the Eastern Conference. The next best team in the West, the Wolves of Chicago, have a 0.645 winning percentage and a +51 goal differential.
On paper, the Condors look as good as any other team. So what will have to go right for them to win the Calder Cup?
Shane Starrett has to get hot and stay hot. In 42 regular season games, Starrett had 27 wins and a .918 save percentage, fifth best in the AHL. The playoffs are short enough that a goalie can bring his “A” game for the duration. If that’s how it goes with Starrett, that will be the single most important factor in Bakersfield winning.
The veterans must bring the two-way grit. Bakersfield is blessed with a solid core of tough and effective veteran players, including forwards like Brad Malone, 29, Mitch Callahan, 27, Patrick Russell, 26, Josh Currie, 26, Luke Esposito, 25, Joe Gambardella, 25, and Dave Gust, 25, and d-men Ryan Stanton, 29, and Keegan Lowe, 26. A number of them took major steps in their two-way play this year — namely Russell, Gambardella and Esposito. This group is the backbone of the Condors, with one or two of the forwards having a realistic shot at making the Oilers this year. This is their big chance to shine and I expect most of them will do so.
The young d-men must step up, not wilt. William Lagesson, Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones will be in a close competition to make the Oilers next year. All three are talented young d-men, and with two out of the three likely to win Oilers jobs in 2019-20. This playoff will be their final audition. If they seize the day, the Condors will win at least a few rounds.
Tyler Benson and Cooper Marody have got to keep on scoring. Benson and Marody were hot shot rookies in the 2018-19 regular season, Benson scoring 66 points in 68 games, Marody 64 points in 58 games. If they can keep up …read more
Source:: Edmonton Journal – Sports