6 takeaways from the Abbotsford Canucks’ 3-0 win in their first game of the AHL playoffs
Photo credit:Abbotsford Canucks/ Instagram
By Faber1 month ago
Wednesday night was a historical one for the Abbotsford Canucks.
In their first-ever home playoff game, the Canucks held tight defensively in a 3-0 against the Bakersfield Condors.
We were out at the game and will be in attendance for every Abbotsford Canucks home playoff game. Here are six takeaways from Wednesday’s big win at the Abbotsford Centre.
#MartyParty was the right call in game one
To our surprise, Spencer Martin was given the start between the pipes for the Canucks.
Martin had a very strong finish to the regular season and is certainly a great option for an AHL team. It’s still our belief that he will be the backup in Vancouver next season. A strong playoff run would certainly help him look back at the 2022-23 season with a positive outlook.
He saw 21 shots on Wednesday and stopped every single one of them. The team played well and kept most of the shots to the outside but Martin had to make big saves on multiple occasions and was able to mentally bounce back after allowing a goal early in the game that was disallowed after a review. Martin locked it in after the retracted goal and looked calm and in control for the rest of the game.
The goalie situation is going to be a story to follow as Abbotsford’s playoffs roll along. Arturs Silovs was named team MVP this past Saturday but the coach decided to go with Martin and with the shutout, it looked like a great decision. As they are called around the rink, ‘Marty and Arty’ are both good AHL goaltenders. The Canucks don’t have a problem with skill in the crease but once there is a slip, you’d bet that the other guy is ready to get on his own run.
Right now, Spencer Martin is the guy for the job but this story is far from over.
Head coach Jeremy Colliton was pleased with Martin’s play on Wednesday night but didn’t sugarcoat the decision. It was a tough one but it worked out for Abbotsford.
“He was excellent,” said Colliton about his goaltender from game one. “He’s been really good for a while now. I think both guys have been excellent. The competition between the two pushed both of them to play their best hockey of the season. And they both want to play. I don’t think either one of them is probably totally satisfied with the arrangement but the team likes it. So that’s what’s most important.”
BIG GAME MAX
This Max Sasson kid…
We like him.
Jack Rathbone joked that he is calling Sasson, “big game Max,” now.
It was initially scored that Sasson had the first two goals in the game but the first goal was correctly changed to Nils Höglander after the game ended. No matter the case, Sasson played very well as Abbotsford’s second-line centre. He was lined up with veteran AHLer Kyle Rau and the aforementioned Höglander.
Sasson’s finish on his goal was done with the silkiness of a veteran scorer and it lit the Abbotsford Centre into a frenzy.
Sasson has been a great addition to the Canucks so far and only appeared in seven regular season games after signing out of Western Michigan and ending his NCAA career.
He’s in a great spot with Rau and Höglander as his linemates.
“He’s awesome,” said Sasson about playing with Höglander. “He’s just so fun to be around. Off the ice and on the ice. He has so much energy. You know, he’s probably the fastest player I’ve played with. He’s so skilled and my job is to get him the puck and get him some space. And [then] he usually makes the right play.”
The vibes were immaculate
This isn’t some detailed, intelligent takeaway but the arena was a treat for the viewing audience.
We saw a robust crowd that was locked in to every twist and turn in the game. It was a playoff atmosphere.
The arena was prepped with white towels on every seat and they were put to use early and often.
‘Holiday’ by Green Day is the goal song as well. They nailed it.
The vibes were immaculate. It was a playoff atmosphere for a Canucks team.
Everybody was watching
Some big names from the Vancouver Canucks organization were in attendance for the playoff game in Abby.
Owner, Francesco Aquilini was in attendance alongside the president, Jim Rutherford and head coach, Rick Tocchet.
They must have liked what they saw as Abbotsford controlled the game from start to finish and weren’t really challenged in their own end because the system and structure that Colliton has his team playing with is built for these types of intense playoff games.
Nils Höglander is going to dominate the AHL playoffs
We mentioned that Tocchet was in attendance and there’s no way he wasn’t impressed with Höglander’s play.
Höglander was doing what he does best — playing with reckless pace and being so annoying to play against while also being able to showcase his immense skill.
Ignore the tweet calling this Sasson’s goal, this play all about Nils Höglander. He was quick up the ice and strong on the puck — on top of that, he went to the net hard and scored what would become the game-winning goal.
This playoff run has the potential for Höglander to really turn some heads and with Tocchet, Aquilini, and Rutherford in attendance, Höglander is impressing the right people.
Höglander will need a new contract for next season as he is on the final year of his entry-level contract. At just 22 years old, Höglander has a long way to go before he hits his peak. This playoff run is a chance for him to cement himself as an NHLer next season. He was clearly the best player on the ice on Wednesday night and if he can do this with consistency through the playoffs, he will continue to dominate.
Jack is back (on the scoresheet)
Jack Rathbone has had an up-and-down year but currently, he is playing a big role on the Canucks. Rathbone will see a lot of minutes at five-on-five but he will also be relied upon to drive his pairing through the neutral zone.
Rathbone scored the third goal in the game and put the Condors to rest.
It’s a very important playoff run for Rathbone who will certainly bring on the challenge of having more eyes from the organization on him. His NHL future with the Canucks is still uncertain but a strong playoff run where he plays to his strengths will surely earn him some good reviews as the organization evaluated their roster for next season.
Abbotsford will face the Condors in game two of the series on Friday. Because the first round of the AHL playoffs is a three-game series for the Pacific Division, the Canucks can advance on Friday night and we expect the sold-out Abbotsford Centre to be filled with some rowdy fans.
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