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Reinhart making progress on the farm

After an early-season setback due to a back injury, defenceman Griffin Reinhart is on the road to recovery and the NHL in Bakersfield

by Marc Ciampa / EdmontonOilers.com

BAKERSFIELD, CA - A difficult start to the season due to injury has slowly turned into a year of progress and positives for Griffin Reinhart. 

Reinhart's back first started to give him some problems driving to Edmonton from Vancouver for main Oilers training camp. He recovered, however, and took part in the full camp plus exhibition games. 

However, his back started to give him problems again during the first Condors road trip of the season. 

Video: CONDORS | Round Table

"Coming back from Winnipeg, (it was a) long travel day. The next day I was moving around all day getting my furniture set up," Reinhart said. 

That injury put Reinhart out for several weeks but when he tried to come back on November 4, it was clear that it was too soon. 

"I came back the one game (on November 4). I felt good in practice but there's none of that quick movement where you have to read the play and adjust. It happened the first shift I was out there. I tried to go but after the first period I came in and it felt worse so I couldn't go.

"I think that just shows that I need to rest when I need to be resting and make sure it's properly stretched out and activated when I get on the ice."

Reinhart didn't return again until late November but he's been in the lineup ever since. Staying healthy has been a bit of a work in progress, however. 

"Whether it's a good day or a bad day, I'm still doing rehab on it every day and making sure that it stays healthy so I've had no issues with that since the injury."

Getting back into the swing of things wasn't a difficult process for Reinhart despite getting injured so early in the season. 

"I went through all of training camp so that helped," he said. "I played the exhibition games and played a couple games out in Winnipeg and I was practicing for a little bit.

"I wouldn't necessarily say it was the legs but more the lungs. Getting used to the training again and hard work. I think I'm back to 100% now."

In terms of his on-ice play, things have gone well for the big defenceman. In 18 games over the course of the season, Reinhart has four assists but he feels like his offensive contribution has run deeper than that. 

"Offensively, I've only got four points right now but I'm creating a lot more out there. I'm jumping up in the play and moving the puck well. Especially at the start of the year and more lately, I took a lot of pride in not getting scored against. I've been unlucky in some goals but defensively I'm playing well and playing harder and more assertive," Reinhart noted. 

Condors assistant coach J-F Houle agreed with Reinhart's thoughts on the offensive improvements. 

"I'm very pleased with the way he's going. It's not easy to be sent down here. He's playing a lot more aggressive and that's what they want. He's carrying the puck, making plays offensively. Those are all positive things we're seeing in Griff," Houle began. 

The assistant coach added that Reinhart has been playing huge minutes for the Condors and in every situation. 

"Griff's coming along great," Houle added. "He does have some stuff he needs to still work on. He gets a lot of icetime. He plays over 24 minutes a night. He's on the ice for penalty kill, he's on the ice for power play, he's a big component of our roster."

As for what Reinhart could improve on, Houle stated that he just needs to continue on the path he's been on. 

"We need to get him comfortable with that puck," said Houle. "When he wants to, Griff is very dangerous. When he carries the puck, he shows some flash of offence during the year. When he wants to go with it, as long as it's the right time, he can be offensive. He's more of a defensive defenceman but in this league he has the opportunity to get some points."

Video: CONDORS | Taylor Beck

HEADING OUTDOORS

Saturday will mark the Outdoor Classic with the Bakersfield Condors taking on the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings AHL affiliate). For Reinhart, it will mark his first outdoor game in his professional career after narrowly missing out on last year's event in Sacramento. 

Reinhart added that he hopes the forecasted rain passes the city by on Saturday. 

"I was around the guys last year for it and was supposed to play but got an eye infection. I couldn't play last year. But hopefully we can get the game in time this year with the rain. Right now, it's kind of a mess trying to figure out what's going to happen. It's a good opportunity and gets a lot of publicity."

As far as past experience playing outdoors, growing up in B.C., for Reinhart it was very limited. 

"I'd play in Calgary every now and then out at my cousin's place and up in Whistler played on the odd pond or so - it got a bit colder up there - but rarely got to play outside."

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