BAKERSFIELD, CA - Condors Head Coach Jay Woodcroft has plenty of options.
Fifteen healthy forwards, nine defenceman and three goaltenders to be exact.
The team's depth and versatility allow the bench boss to make changes when necessary and still field one of the American Hockey League's best rosters. In Games 1 and 2 of the Condors' opening-round series, Woodcroft deployed a conventional 12 forward, six defencemen makeup.
However, heading into Game 3, he was forced to adapt. Players were "banged up" as the first-year coach was required to move pieces around. With an itching Evan Bouchard waiting to draw into the lineup, Woodcroft exercised a different look: 11 forwards and seven defencemen.
It resulted in the first ever AHL home playoff victory for the franchise.
"What I liked about our mix of players is that we have people that represent different ingredients," said Woodcroft following Tuesday's practice. "So it's not just a cookie cutter jersey that's going into the lineup. We have players that excel on the power play and excel on the penalty kill. We have toughness, we have size, we have speed. I believe that our depth has been a real source of strength.
"For me and the coaching staff, we have a comfort level with every single player that we have on the roster. Every single one of those players is important to us. They're important to what we got going on and we're a stronger team because they're here. We feel quite comfortable with whoever we ice in our lineup."
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A player that has been a staple in all but one of Bakersfield's games this season is captain Keegan Lowe. The dependable, stay-at-home rearguard has seen the usual turnover that an AHL team experiences first-hand for six seasons now.
But for Lowe, there's a reason he experienced his first AHL playoff series victory this past weekend.
"The reason we have been so successful all year is our depth from top to bottom," said the defenseman. "We have forwards and a couple of guys in the lineup that could easily be in the lineup and be successful as well. We have an unbelievable group of guys and team. We've dealt with different scenarios this year, whether it be injuries or just a lot of bodies on the backend. It just says a lot about our group.
"We stick together, we're ready to roll with the punches and play with whoever we're thrown out with at that point in time."