4 keys for an Abbotsford Canucks win to stave off elimination against Calgary tonight
21 days ago
The Abbotsford Canucks have been right there. They’ve been so close. Realistically, they could have won either of the first two games of this series. By now, you see where we’re going with this.
The Canucks’ AHL farm team enters game three of their best of five series against the Calgary Wranglers down by a pair of games and yes, facing elimination from the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Both games have required overtime, with Calgary prevailing each time. Some things have gone well for the Canucks in this series while others haven’t, and unfortunately, the things that haven’t gone well outnumber the things that have gone well. Now that your brain is warmed up, here are four keys to Abbotsford securing the W tonight, avoiding the sweep and keeping this series and their playoff hopes alive and well.
Stay out of the box
You may think this to be a no-brainer, and you may even think that, given Arshdeep Bains’ two short-handed markers on the same two-minute Wranglers’ power play last game, that the Canucks should do what they can do to go down a man!
But discipline needs to be at the forefront for Abbotsford, as they allowed two power play goals against while shorthanded. To be fair, they gave up a whopping nine power play opportunities to Calgary, so at least one of them was bound to go in. A big culprit of that high penalty count was Nils Höglander, who took four minor penalties in the game, including one in the offensive zone late in the third with the two teams tied at two apiece.
GM Ryan Johnson was on Halford and Brough on Sportsnet 650 this morning and had a great quote when asked about Höglander’s four penalties last game.
“I’d rather tame a lion than teach a cat to roar.”
Well, that’s only part of what he said, but you get the point.
Höglander was Abbotsford’s best player against Bakersfield in round one, and the club simply needs him to return to form tonight, and for the rest of this series, God willing.
Don’t force the goalies to be great
If there’s one thing Abbotsford has been exceptional at this season, it’s breaking the puck out of their own end, getting the puck up the ice in a hurry, and keeping a solid structure to limit high-danger chances.
Abbotsford did this extremely well in round one vs. the Condors, with Spencer Martin picking up a shutout in game one and Arturs Silovs allowing just two goals in the game two victory. Neither goalie faced much trouble, but in this series, they’ve had to stand on their head.
Now, part of this is obviously due to the fact that the Wranglers finished the regular season with the best record of any team in the AHL. They’re a tougher test than Bakersfield, so Abbotsford simply can’t afford to make unforced mistakes in this series.
We don’t know exactly who is starting this game, but since Abbotsford has been rotating goalies since March and into the playoffs thus far, we’re guessing it’s Spencer Martin. Martin has been great since being sent down to the AHL, and the Canucks would certainly appreciate him keeping that up tonight.
That being said, they cannot force their goalie to be great while not doing much in front of him.
It didn’t work in game one, it didn’t work in game two, and it’s probably not going to work again tonight. The Abbotsford netminders need some run support, too! Speaking of which…
Score a power play goal
Just one. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but just put the puck in the back of the net while you have the man advantage.
The Canucks went 0/7 on the power play last game, and Christian Wolanin, who was named the AHL’s best defenceman, has zero points this series. The same can be said for Linus Karlsson, who led Abbotsford in goals during the regular season. Karlsson recorded one assist against Bakersfield, his lone point of the playoffs so far.
As mentioned, the netminders need some run support, and the power play capitalizing on their chances would go a long way in accomplishing that.
The Abbotsford home crowd
The biggest key to victory aside from what happens on the ice is without a doubt the racuous Abbotsford crowd. The fans were absolutely buzzing in the series sweep over Bakersfield, and every single person in that arena — the players on both sides especially — felt the passion and the momentum the fans provided the home team.
If Abbotsford is going to pull off the tall task of a reverse sweep over the AHL’s top squad, they’re going to need their fans to be in it right from puck drop.
And if we know anything about the Abbotsford fans, you can count on that being the case as long as the players on the ice hold up their end of the bargain.
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