There must be something about the holiday season that gives Tyler Madden a little extra pep in his step.
Last season, just before the Thanksgiving break, he scored a pair of goals vs. Stockton to begin a stretch where he put up five goals in six games. Then, just after New Year’s, he added another three-game scoring steak to his stat line. Currently, he’s scored in three straight games once again, and has found the back of the net four times in the past six games.
Since fellow Kings prospects Alex Turcotte and Quinton Byfield returned to the Ontario Reign lineup on November 10, Madden has played with at least one of them in all but one game. And over the last two games, the trio have formed the top line for coach Marco Sturm.
“Playing with Q and Turc, we’re starting to find some things and it’s happened to be a couple goals for me,” said Madden. “We played well the last three [games], even though we lost that first game, we controlled the game for the most part and I think we play really well together. We’re all very offensive, really good at reading and making plays, so it’s fun playing with them.”
Although he’s mixed the lines up most nights — due to juggling a roster of 15+ forwards on the roster, injuries, NHL call-ups, etc. — Sturm was quick to point out after last Sunday’s game that he planned to go back to the Turcotte-Byfield-Madden line again for Wednesday’s pre-Thanksgiving tilt vs. San Jose.
“I think they have something,” he replied, when asked about that decision following Wednesday’s 5-1 victory over the Barracuda. “I also think Turc needed some time, as well, on the left side. He showed [that tonight]. I think he had some great opportunities. This line, they’re clicking. Q and Madds had good chemistry last year when Q was down here with the Reign. I had a good feeling; I wanted to give them another shot and they were much better today.
Indeed, that hunch paid off, as Madden’s goal on Wednesday was assisted by Byfield and Turcotte. That wasn’t all from that line either, with Byfield and Turcotte combining for five assists total.
“Q has been getting better every week, every day, pretty much,” Sturm added. “There is still a lot more in the tank with him. We’re trying to get him to his best. And when he gets called up again, we just hope he’s going to be ready to go. … It was good; it was nice to see him get going. Nice to see Turc get some good opportunities and get some points. But they know they still have a ways to go.”
As Sturm indicated, Byfield is likely to be recalled to the Kings in a few weeks. Yet, there’s just something about Madden and Turcotte together, it’s like magic is in the air.
“I love playing with Turc,” Madden noted with an extra helping of enthusiasm in his voice. “He works hard and he has all the tools. He’s skilled, he’s fast, and he’s not afraid to stick his nose out there. It’s always fun playing with him.”
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