19 things you should know before the Abbotsford Canucks’ first-round AHL playoff matchup with the Bakersfield Condors
Photo credit:Abbotsford Canucks on Twitter
By Faber7 months ago
1. Last year
Last year, the Bakersfield Condors swept the Abbotsford Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. Bakersfield hosted the series and that means that when Abbotsford hosts Bakersfield for game one on Wednesday night, it will be the first home playoff game in Abbotsford Canucks history.
2. Last year and this year
The Canucks have just shy of 20 returning players from the roster that got eliminated last year. It’s somewhere in the range of 15-19 but it’s a bit fuzzy because some guys didn’t play in the two games last year or some might not play in the series this year. But it’s around 20 returning guys for the actual roster.
3. Griffith leads the Condors
Seth Griffith is a very good AHLer scorer.
The veteran forward was fourth in AHL scoring last season and is leading the Condors this season with 60 points in 72 games. He is also their only player who played in all 72 games this season. He’s the heartbeat of the Condors’ forward group and works well with young and talented prospects.
4. Exciting rookies
The Condors have three impact wingers who are in their rookie season. Noah Philp has 19 goals and 18 assists on the year, he is 24 years old, though — a bit of an older rookie.
Ty Tullio (21 years old) and Xavier Bourgault (20) are two exciting rookies for the Condors. Bourgault has 34 points in 62 games and Tullio has 26 points over 63 games.
As for the Canucks, Linus Karlsson is the leading scorer on their team with 24 goals in 72 games. He is also a bit of an older rookie, coming in at 23 years old.
Arshdeep Bains will be an asset to the two-way play in the middle six. He has turned a corner since Christmas and seems to get better with almost every passing game. He finished the year with 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points in 66 games.
Aatu Räty is technically a rookie, even though he played in two regular season games and six playoff games with the Bridgeport Islanders last year. He found some late success with the Canucks after being dealt in the Bo Horvat trade. Räty finished the season on a line with Danila Klimovich, and that line has potential to be very fun to watch — especially as they matchup against other bottom-six lines.
5. Sophomores with skill
We just mentioned him, and Danila Klimovich comes into this playoff series on a four-game goal-scoring streak, bringing his season total to 17 goals in 67 games. Klimovich is back on Abbotsford’s power play unit and is a very dangerous scorer from the left half-wall. He’s got an electric one-timer but his playmaking doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. He really sees the ice well from the left half-wall and we will definitely see some offensive explosions with him on the power play.
Dylan Holloway is a very fun player to watch in the AHL. He has the confidence that he showed in junior and when he is challenged, he seems to raise his game. He’s strong on the puck, skates well and scored seven goals in the 12 AHL games he played this season. He’s going to be a good one for the Condors in this series and we’re curious to see if he plays alongside Seth Griffith on a top-line.
6. First look at Filip
The Canucks signed former first-round pick Filip Johansson last summer.
He had a strong season in the SHL and arrived in Abbotsford late Sunday evening. Johansson is a 23-year-old, 6’1″, right-shot defenceman who leans more towards the offensive end of the defenceman spectrum. We hope to see him on a power play unit and maybe even on an ultra-offensive pairing with either Jack Rathbone or Christian Wolanin.
7. Christian Wolanin is the best defenceman in the AHL
Those are just the facts.
The Canucks’ 28-year-old skilled puck-mover may have only played in 49 AHL games this season but he played well enough in those 49 games to earn the Eddie Shore Award for the AHL’s top defenceman.
Wolanin led the AHL in points from a defenceman with 55 points on the year. He was also the only defenceman in the AHL to be over a point-per-game on the year. Wolanin finished with a 1.12 Pt/G this year with his 55 points in 49 games.
He will be the guy they look to on the first power play unit which may mean that we see Johansson and Rathbone together on the second unit.
Abbotsford has some really fun firepower on the backend and Wolanin is the leading man.
8. Remember Justin Bailey?
Justin Bailey was with the Canucks organization from 2019-2022 and continues to score in the AHL from his breakaway speed. He’s the fastest skater in the AHL and when he’s on his game and gets some ice to work with, he’s very dangerous.
Bailey scores in bunches and you hope he doesn’t bury a bunch against this Abbotsford team.
9. It’s #ArtyParty time (probably)
Head coach Jeremy Colliton hasn’t declared a starter or stated that he wouldn’t go with one in the playoffs.
He’s talked about deciding between two good goalies being a good problem to have and we believe Arturs Silovs will be the man for game one.
There are no guarantees that he is back for game two.
Silovs is young and exciting and seemed to not break in the big moments when he was given five NHL starts this season.
For that reason and because he started in the midweek game last week as well as a weekend game, we believe he will be Abbotsford’s starter for game one.
10. Justin Dowling wants another Calder Cup
Justin Dowling has been a solid veteran centre for the Abbotsford Canucks this season. He’s stepped up and taken on the challenge of being the first-line centre and performed well in the spotlight. He can be seen killing penalties and even playing as the power play quarterback at the top of the power play.
Dowling won the Calder Cup in 2014 with the Texas Stars when he was 24 years old. Now, at 32, Dowling is a great veteran for Abbotsford’s group.
11. Could we see a #MartyParty?
Spencer Martin closed out the year with some very impressive numbers. He held a 0.942% save percentage over his final six starts and seems to have found his game.
If he gets a chance to play, he might be the guy that this team rides on a run to the cup.
12. Jett Woo led the Abbotsford Canucks defencemen in goals
Yeah, he did.
Jett Woo had seven goals this year.
Wolanin had six, Rathbone had five.
13. New guy behind the bench
Jeremy Colliton was someone who Canucks management really wanted for their AHL team.
They thoroughly evaluated Colliton and then pursued him. Ryan Johnson was a big component of this and as general manager of the Abbotsford Canucks, he deserves a lot of praise for the development that has taken place in Abbotsford this year.
Johnson has assembled a solid combination of coaches and staff for development with his team of Colliton, associate coach Gary Agnew, assistant coach Jeff Ulmer, development coaches Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and the rest of the great staff in Abbotsford.
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14. Lully’s Hot Dogs
Maybe you’re going to the game for the first time.
Allow me to point you in the direction of Lully’s for your arena food.
These footlong hot dogs on a pretzel-like bun are tremendous. Lully’s has some awesome homemade toppings and it’s some excellent arena food.
Get there before the second intermission. They have run out in the past and these playoff games should draw a big crowd.
15. Toughest three guys
Abbotsford: Vinny Arseneau (out week-to-week with injury), Alex Kannok Leipert, and Jett Woo
Bakersfield: Luke Esposito, Alex Peters, and Jason Demers
16. Tristen Nielsen is fun
The sophomore forward just seems to always get under the opposition’s skin. Tristen Nielsen fights for every inch of the ice and has some of the best wheels in the AHL. He can burst through small spaces and can contribute to both special teams units.
He’s got the skill to make you pay when you make a mental mistake and Nielsen is very good at making the opposition make mental mistakes.
17. Vasily Podkolzin is doubtful for this series
The Abbotsford Canucks would certainly see a large boost if they were able to add Vasily Podkolzin to their forward group. The 21-year-old is recovering from a hand injury and is doubtful but eligible for the opening round of the AHL playoffs.
He may join the run later but we do not expect to see Podkolzin against the Condors.
18. Abbotsford won the season series 3-1-0
Abbotsford won the first three games of the series by scores of 3-2, 6-3, and 4-3. They lost to the Condors on March 22nd by a score of 3-1.
These teams have not played each other much this season but they will surely remember last year’s playoffs.
19. It’s young guys driving the bus for the Canucks.
Danila Klimovich, Aatu Räty, Arturs Silovs, Arshdeep Bains, Nils Höglander, Jett Woo, and Alex Kannok Leipert are names you will certainly hear throughout the series. These players all have something in common — they are 22 years old or younger.
Abbotsford is giving their young players a chance to succeed in pressure moments. These young players have developed through the process of playing in a system that defends very well at the AHL level. Colliton has his group ready and if this team once again flops, it’s simply on execution.
Klimovich, Silovs, and Höglander have a chance to really show the organization what they are worth.
There are NHL games on the line for these three more than anyone in this Canucks lineup. If they can lead this young group on a deep Calder Cup run, they will be all but guaranteed NHL games next season and potentially a significant amount of NHL games.
That’s it. Enjoy!
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