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Bakersfield Condors vs. Texas Stars: Do we have a goaltending controversy?

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Photo credit:Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Curlock
4 months ago
Well, I have to admit I am confused.
When Jack Campbell came down to the AHL, given his play and his contract, I was certain he was done as an NHL goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers. For the first few games in Bakersfield, Campbell affirmed that opinion with play that was reminiscent of when he was in Edmonton.
Slowly, though, the worm has started to turn for Campbell. Whether it was the Christmas break, the addition of his personal goaltending coach, Manny Legace, or the influence of the Condors goalie coach, Sylvain Rodrigue or all of them combined, Campbell has started to play better.
Prior to Saturday night’s game against the Texas Stars, Campbell has played six games since the break. In none of those games, did he have a save percentage below .900 and in the aggregate, he has amassed a .928 save percentage and has only allowed 14 goals in those six starts, going 5-1 over that stretch.
However, Campbell was in for a test last night in his start against the Stars. They’re one of the AHL’s offensive powerhouses and coming off a tough 5-3 loss Friday night against the Condors, there was no question the Stars team would throw everything at Campbell and Condors.
Surprisingly, the Stars started relatively slow, despite having three powerplays in the first period, and they failed to generate much in the way of offensive opportunities. The two teams ended the first deadlocked at no score with each team registering ten shots.
The Stars finally broke through early in the second on a 5v5 goal to take the lead. The Condors, though, responded just over a minute later on a powerplay goal by Lane Pederson. The goal came off a wonderful passing play involving Raphael Lavoie and Drake Cagguila to create an open one-time look of the wing.

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Pederson is on an absolute tear in 2024 with seven goals and eight assists in 13 games. He certainly merits some consideration for a look by the Oilers if the fourth-line center role remains unfilled via trade.
The Condors took the lead on a great assist by Cam Dineen who found Dino Kambeitz in the slot. Kambeitz promptly deposited the shot top shelf for a 2-1 lead. Here is a clip of the goal. Please don’t yell about the blackout, yell at the AHL.

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The Condors entered the second intermission with a chance to sweep the two-game set in Texas up 2-1, but the third period was all Stars, as hey outshot Bakersfield 12-1 in the third period.
Just one problem for them: Jack Campbell.
All period, Campbell fought to keep the Condors in the lead. His portfolio of saves included this one that was registered as a shot. I cannot honestly tell if it was a save, but it was recorded as a shot on the net. If it was a save, it’s an all-timer.

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Campbell finished off the game for the Condors by stopping 36 of 37 shots for the win. The win raised his record to 6-1 since the Christmas break and his save percentage to .942.
As to whether Campbell can play again in the NHL with the Oilers, I am not certain. He makes unorthodox saves, and often, there is chaos in his crease when the puck gets there. He is making saves, no question. I am just not convinced that Campbell wouldn’t get lit up by NHL shooters still. Nevertheless, in the AHL, Jack Campbell has been very good.
The Condors enter the All-Star break in seventh place in their division despite a 6-3-1 record in their last ten games. However, that is very misleading. Bakersfield has played quite a few fewer games than all of the teams in front of them. In fact, on winning percentage alone, the Condors are fourth in their division.
It will be a very busy schedule when the Condors return to the ice next Friday. They play 10 games in 18 days in February followed by 16 games in 31 days in March. This week off is timely and will be critical to the Condors’ chance of making a playoff proof.
That’s it for the Condors game report.
See you next week when the Oilers and the Condors get back to work. Cheers.

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