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CONDORS: Blueline bolstered

The Condors' blueline continues to be the team's foundation and the addition of Evan Bouchard only bolsters it

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

BAKERSFIELD, CA - Defence first.

It's one of the oldest sayings in the game but still serves as the Golden Rule.

In Bakersfield with the Condors, defence definitely does come first. It was the team's foundation during the regular campaign and continues to be in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. 

Video: CONDORS | Bouchard Honoured 04.25.19

Offensively, every Condors blueliner to dress in the postseason has registered a point, with four collecting two or more. 

On the defensive side of the puck, the Condors allowed the fewest goals against in the American Hockey League regular season and have been able to lower the number of shots against in each new outing of their series against the Colorado Eagles. 

In Game 1 they ceded 28. They decreased that total to 22 in Game 2, then in Game 3 allowed 18 altogether, even limiting the Eagles to just a single shot on goal in the first period.

"I think the D core has been a strength of our team the entire season," said Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft. "We think the harder we defend, the more time we spend in the opposition's end, the better chance we have to win."

Bakersfield's D core features a mixture of size and skill, blending defensive acumen with offensive awareness. The complexion of the back end has been a by-product of the past few draft classes plus some veteran signings that have provided the support required for the skaters to develop.

Video: RAW | Keegan Lowe 04.25.19

"We're rolling," said Lowe, who was quick to acknowledge the defence core's steady play while also praising the forwards up front. 

"We're ready to shoot pucks, we're skating, we're active and we're in the play. It says a lot of about our forwards going to the net, though, and being in those tough areas and getting their nose over the paint. They're getting rewarded for it because most of the time it's the second or third opportunities after our shots that are going in."

Even when the defencemen played with a seven-man rotation in their 5-2 Game 3 victory - welcoming 2018 10th-overall selection Evan Bouchard into the lineup - there was a unilateral sense of cohesion despite the extra body.

"It's not a normal thing to be playing in pro hockey, at least in North America, but I think we handled it really well," said Lowe, who had a pair of helpers on Tuesday. "All seven of us stayed in the game. It keeps us on our toes so you're ready to go each shift."

Video: RAW | Jay Woodcroft 04.25.19

Bouchard's addition only bolsters the blue line. The Ontario Hockey League's Defenceman of the Year provided a different look to the team's makeup, excelling with a three-point Condors debut.

"He was obviously a huge help to our team on Tuesday night," affirmed Lowe. "We're excited to have him here. He's smooth, he's poised, he's calm with the puck and I think he's just another great addition to an extremely solid D core we already have."

Bouchard's presence is more than welcomed and provides another offensive threat to a group that already includes productive Dmen Logan Day, William Lagesson, Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear - who all put up 27 or more points during the regular campaign.

"We're a team that welcomes anybody with open arms," continued Lowe. "We've done it numerous times this year and anybody like that who can help us that well is going to be welcomed with open arms. 

"Hopefully we got a long way to go where he can grow together with us."

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