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Bakersfield Condors vs. Tucson Roadrunners Game Report: Psyche!

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Photo credit:Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK
Bruce Curlock
25 days ago
When the Edmonton Oilers went on break for the All-Star festivities, they did one last thing by assigning Dylan Holloway to Bakersfield for the nine-day break.
I thought it was an excellent idea to get him additional game time given his injury issues this season. So when the Condors released their line-up for last night’s game against the Tucson Roadrunner, it was surprising to see that Holloway was not in the line-up. Now, this appears most likely to be a salary cap move to accrue as much space as possible, which is an excellent management move, but it definitely left me “Hollow-ay” inside.
Oh come on, you have to give me that!
Anyway, after the line-up surprise faded away, the Condors got to work against the second-place Roadrunners. The Roadrunners are a weird team. They don’t do anything exceedingly well, but they also don’t do anything poorly. They have no real star players and most of their prospects are playing in Phoenix with the Coyotes. Nevertheless, they entered the game sporting a 26-13-1-1 record.
The Condors had a 7-2-1 record in their last ten, but have not made up much standings ground because they have played so few games. In their division, they have played three fewer games than the next lowest team and a full five games less than the Roadrunners. So, while the play and results have been good, it has not resulted in a better position in the standings.
So, with that said, this was not a mismatch between the 2nd-place team and the 8th-place team in the division. These two teams are closely matched and have played very close games for the last two years. Last night, it was one the Roadrunners took 3-2.
The game itself was a fairly benign affair in the first period. Tucson held a modest advantage in play and shots due mostly to three penalties taken by the Condors. Tucson finally started the scoring on a very soft goal against Jack Campbell, who got the start for the Condors.

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The Condors responded with a really strong second period scoring twice. The first on a powerplay from Seth Griffith.

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While Philip Broberg had less to do with this goal than others on the powerplay except to make a routine pass, there is no question the powerplay has been dramatically better since his return to the Condors. While he will never see much powerplay time in Edmonton, it is an encouraging sign to have Broberg show offensive ability and creativity regardless.
The Condors took a second-period lead on a tremendous shot by Matvey Petrov. Some may believe this a “hail may” style of shot, but Petrov takes this crack quite often and had lots of success in junior with it. His release is very quick and the shot is quite accurate.

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Petrov is absolutely coming as a player now. We talked about him last Sunday in the Edmonton Oilers Prospect Report at the Oilersnation.com. He and his linemates, Jayden Grubbe and Carter Savoie have been playing very well. That play has been rewarded by the coaching staff. Look at this shift from last night that starts with a defensive zone faceoff and ends up with a scoring chance at the other end in short order.

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The coaching staff is keeping this line together and playing them in all situations. That is absolutely encouraging on all fronts.
Unfortunately for the Condors, they did not come into the third period prepared and gave up the lead on two goals in 1:06. The first was a very nice entry play by the Roadrunners, but could have been defended better by both Philip Broberg and Xavier Bourgault.
As the Roadrunners enter, watch the eyes of both players. Each is locked on the player with the puck on the wall. In this formation, Broberg is required to stay in the high slot and defend the middle. Bourgault is watching the weak side and defends players coming down to the net. You always leave the high player alone since he is the least dangerous. Broberg gets too low here, and Bourgault hesitates on who to take, allowing the Roadrunner forward to skate into a scoring lane. The result was a goal against.

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The goal that stood up as the winner was a play that Oilers fans have seen too much of with Broberg in Edmonton. A very tentative play in the net front. Broberg needs to get more aggressive on bodies in front of the net. Whether he moves players or simply engages the player and takes the stick away is irrelevant.
He just needs to do something. Personally, I think he could make players pay a little more in front, but he seems not inclined to do that. However, he needs to at least lock players up on the front.

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The Condors tried vainly to score but in the end, lost 3-2 in regulation — their first regulation loss in nine games. One of the understated parts of the game was the undisciplined play of the Condors. They took six minors to the three committed by the Roadrunners. It cost them a goal and hurt their momentum throughout the game, including in the last minute when Drake Caguilla took another questionable penalty. A trend that has been increasing lately.
In terms of prospects, Philip Broberg ended up with two assists but was also at fault on two of the three Roadrunner goals and was on for all three. Raphael Lavoie, who has a hand injury from a fight in his prior game, ended up with one assist but was relatively quiet. The line of Grubbe, Petrov and Savoie continues to play as noted and Jayden Grubbe has become a stalwart in all defensive situations for the Condors. Any offence he can add will make him a compelling prospect.
Xavier Bourgault is clearly playing better, but still not getting results. Last night, he was all over the ice at evens, the powerplay and the penalty kill. He’s playing well on a line with Pederson and Caguilla, but the results need to come.
One player I remain quite intrigued by is Marcus Niemelainen. Injuries have clearly derailed his NHL career path in the last 18 months. However, he is a big, physical defender who skates incredibly well. His holdback is his offensive play, but there is some of that in this player. I would not give up on him as a prospect. He ended last night with three shots and an even mark in plus-minus.
However, he does impact most shifts. Watch this one shift from last night that is fairly typical in games he plays. He is very mobile and there is an element of attack to his game. If he can continue to work on his passing and stay healthy, I remain convinced there is a third-pairing NHL defenseman here.

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That’s it for the Condors game report. I’ll be back on Friday and Saturday as the Condors play the very tough Texas Stars in a weekend back-to-back. Talk to you then.

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