Sometimes it’s just about finding ways to win and certainly having an offense firing on all cylinders is a good way to rack up some Ws.
The Condors have outscored opponents 23-13 over the past five games and are riding a season-high five-game win streak as they head into their final home game of the month on Wednesday night at Rabobank Arena.
“It’s a real positive when high-end skilled players are converting,” Condors coach Jay Woodcroft said. “(The streak) is a credit to some hard work from our players. It’s a product of trying to play the game the right way.”
Woodcroft said he thought his group was playing the right way during the first five games of January but all they had to show for it was an 0-4-1 record.
“We didn’t get the results we wanted earlier but we were playing well,” he said. “Most of the games were one-goal games.”
In the past five games, two of the wins have come in overtime and two others were by two goals.
“It’s hard to predict offense, but if you play the game the right way and are getting those chances and are defending well you give yourself a chance to win,” Woodcroft said. “Most importantly, we know we are in a very competitive division … we have to keep doing it on a daily basis.”
The Condors are fourth in the Pacific Division, three points up on Wednesday’s opponent, Colorado, and just three-points behind second place Tucson.
The Tyler Benson-Cooper Marody-Josh Currie line has had the hot hand lately and is a big reason the Condors are reeling off victories. Marody (2g, 10a) and Currie (7g, 2 a) are riding seven-game points streaks and Benson has a goal and six assists over his last four games.
“The Marody-Currie-Benson line has found some chemistry,” Woodcroft said. “They are producing, not only on the power play, but 5-on-5 and are scoring some big goals. They are committed to playing the entire rink, just not one end, and working hard defensively has led to offense as well.”
Then there is Joe Gambardella, who did not score in his first game back from his first NHL call up, but has four goals and two assists in his last three. He made a beautiful move to score the overtime game-winner on Monday night in San Jose.
“Gambardella came down full of energy, vigor and is excited to be a part of what we’ve got going on down here,” Woodcroft said. “He’s taken a big step this year.”
And now the Condors are getting another big-time player back, at least for a while. Defenseman Caleb Jones, who played 17 games in his first NHL call up, has struggled a bit lately there and has been assigned to the Condors.
“He’s a strong player for us and we’re excited to re-introduce him back into our lineup,” Woodcroft said of Jones, who has 12 points in 21 games with Bakersfield.
But don’t expect Jones to be with the Condors long term. He is well liked in Edmonton, which begins a six-day All-Star break Wednesday.
“We saw a guy hit the wall,” Edmonton coach Ken Hitchcock said of Jones in a media session on Tuesday. “Let’s let him catch his breath … we needed him to catch his breath and play hockey and then get back up and running. The break afforded us the opportunity to continue playing him, get him playing in less of an atmosphere where everything is magnified so much right now.”
A pair of Oiler forwards — Ryan Spooner and Ty Rattie — cleared waivers on Tuesday but stayed with the Oilers and were not assigned to the Condors. Spooner, in fact, played for the Oilers on Tuesday night.
“To me, both guys are on competitive notice,” said Hitchcock.