With a 3-1 win over the Laval Rocket on Sunday night, the Abbotsford Canucks officially punched their ticket into the AHL playoffs.
The Canucks are currently 32-21-6 on the season and have been one of the AHL’s hottest teams in 2022.
We will be seeing playoff hockey for the team in the valley but we aren’t guaranteed to see playoff games in the valley this May.
Seven teams make the playoffs from the AHL’s Pacific Division. The Canucks are currently sitting in fifth and it’s looking like they will be matching up with the Edmonton Oilers’ farm team, the Bakersfield Condors, in the first round of the playoffs. The first round of the AHL playoffs consists of a three-game series where the second seed plays the seventh seed, the third seed plays the sixth seed, the fourth seed plays the fifth seed, and the first seed gets a bye.
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Calder Cup playoff bracket from TheAHL.com
The other wrinkle in the first-round playoffs series is that the higher seed team hosts the entire series.
That means that the Canucks still have some work to do if they want to host a playoff game in Abbotsford. The Canucks and Condors are currently tied with 70 points but the Condors have one game in hand on the Canucks.
There’s going to be an exciting push to the finish as the Canucks look to secure home-ice advantage in that opening playoff series.
Standings from TheAHL.com
The Abbotsford Canucks have been relying on timely scoring and amazing goaltending over their hot stretch and the play in the crease from both Spencer Martin and Mikey DiPietro has been nothing short of spectacular.
DiPietro has had a great bounce-back to his season and over his last seven games, DiPietro has a .937% save percentage. Martin is also playing great hockey between the pipes as he has a .928% save percentage over his last 14 starts.
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Other notable players who have helped the Canucks get into this position are Sheldon Rempal and Sheldon Dries. Offence is coming easy to the two Sheldons this season as they have been linemates for most of the season and are continuously finding their names on the scoresheet and being called for a quick lap post-game during the three stars selections. Dries is seventh in the AHL for points with Rempal just behind him at 11th.
Dries has been the scoring threat for the Canucks all season long as he’s ripped twine 35 times in 54 games. Rempal is closing in on his fellow Sheldon as the former Nanaimo Clippers’ winger has eight goals in his last 10 games.
Another big boost to the offence will be Nic Petan and Vasily Podkolzin. They are eligible to join the AHL squad for the playoffs. Vancouver Canucks’ general manager Patrik Allvin confirmed that the two forwards were papered down to the AHL at the trade deadline. Those two will provide a huge boost to the top-six and each of the forwards should see significant time on both special teams’ units.
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When it comes to young prospects, Jack Rathbone is a highlight-reel waiting to happen every night. He has five points in his last two games and is learning to be more responsible defensively as the season rolls along.
Rathbone has continued to grow into a leader on the ice this season and he spoke about what the playoffs mean to him and the group in Abbotsford.
“Yeah, it’s it’s huge,” said Rathbone during Sunday’s post-game availability. “I think that’s been our goal ever since we started here and I know [Trent] Cull was happy and we knew in the back of our heads what was on the line tonight and it’s fun to get it done.”
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Head coach Trent Cull and his staff have this Abbotsford team playing great hockey in the second half of the season and he is looking forward to seeing what this team can do in the playoffs.
“I can’t be more proud of that group and what they’ve done and how they’ve faced the adversity,” said Cull. “[It’s a] great job by our players. We just had a little chit-chat in there and I said how proud I am of our group and what we’ve done. There are many guys who have been a part of us making playoffs, whether they’ve been here to start with us or come and join us. Just that next man up, we’ve talked about opportunity. It’s not easy to get into playoffs, and I’m just I’m ecstatic that we have given ourselves a chance to play in the postseason.”
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Abbotsford has nine games remaining on the season, six of which will come on the road as they close out the year. There are two games against the Bakersfield Condors that will be massive for positioning in the standings and could decide who hosts the opening three-game series in the playoffs.
The final AHL game of the season is April 30th against Manitoba and the final two-game weekend set for the Abbotsford Canucks comes on Friday and Saturday as they host the San Diego Gulls. If you haven’t made it out to Abbotsford yet, this weekend is a great time to make the drive!
Stay locked in on CanucksArmy for all the last Abbotsford Canucks news.