Abbotsford Canucks week two preview against the Calgary Wranglers
1 month ago
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It’s sophomore season for the Farmies at CanucksArmy, so I promise we will have post-game coverage for at least one game from every weekend double-header this season!
The Abbotsford Canucks’ home opener begins with a pair of games against one of the AHL’s best teams from last season, the Calgary Wranglers.
The Wranglers return to Abbotsford for the first time since eliminating Abbotsford from the Calder Cup Playoffs, three games to one, all via one-goal games. The Abbotsford Canucks’ lineup looks radically different since these teams last met, but those that remain surely haven’t forgotten the pain of being eliminated on home ice.
Before we see how these teams stack up heading into this weekend’s match-up, let’s first see where the Canucks sit individually after their 2023-24 debut in Laval this past weekend.
All Situations scoring leaders:
5v5 scoring leaders:
5v5 on-ice goal differential leaders:
We think we found a way to make pretty charts legible on the site, but let us know in the comments if you’d prefer boring Excel tables.
Patrik Allvin honoured his deal with Jack Rathbone, finding him greener pastures should he not make the NHL squad out of training camp. Rathbone looked great on a pairing with Cole McWard in Abbotsford’s two-straight victories against the Laval Rocket. Supplanting Rathbone on a pairing with McWard will most likely be the inbound Akito Hirose.
Ty Glover was loaned to the Canucks’ ECHL affiliate Kalamazoo. Based on Glover’s pedestrian scoring profile at the AHL level, it is likely that he’ll play for Kalamazoo for most of the 2023-24 season.
Games 3 & 4 versus Calgary
Trent Cull’s Calgary Wranglers have several things going in their favour heading into the weekend match-up.
- Dustin Wolf.
- A young, motivated team looking to impress their new coach by defeating his old team in their own barn.
- Dustin Wolf.
The Wranglers enter the Abbotsford Centre on the heels of a deflating overtime loss to the Manitoba Moose. After jumping out to a 2-nothing lead, the Meese rallied to score 2 goals in the 3rd period before winning it in overtime on the power play.
The Wranglers’ penalty kill is tied for third-worst in the AHL, conceding three goals on seven opportunities. The Canucks’ penalty kill sits tied, 17th in the AHL, conceding three goals on 15 power play opportunities.
Though it’s still way too early to judge, both Abbotsford and Calgary have not quite replicated the success of their 2022-23 campaigns in terms of shot generation and suppression. Abbotsford and Calgary finished 2nd and 10th in shots for and 2nd and 16th in shots allowed per game last season, respectively. To start the 2023-24 season, with two games under each team’s belt, Abbotsford sits 25th in shots for and 27th in shots allowed, while Calgary sits 29th in shots for and 25th in shots allowed per game.
Between the pipes, Dustin Wolf began his AHL MVP season follow-up with a 0.932 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average. Right below him on the list of top goaltenders by save percentage is Abbotsford rookie Nikita Tolopilo, whose 0.932 save percentage places him 14th among AHL netminders. At 16th sits Oscar Dansk, whose 37-save performance in Calgary’s overtime loss to Manitoba ranked him 16th in AHL goaltending by save percentage. Though he picked up the win, Arturs Silovs’ 4 goals allowed on 31 shots placed him 31st among goaltenders by save percentage (0.871).
Calgary will be coming in hot and heavy as they try to get their new coach a couple of early victories against a Pacific Division rival and their current coach’s old squad. Abbotsford’s PK will be tested against Calgary’s 8th-ranked power play. Additionally, Abbotsford’s 17th-ranked power play will fight through some considerable growing pains with Rathbone no longer in the fold as a 2nd unit staple.
Last season, the Canucks and Wranglers played against each other 16 times, 12 times in the regular season games and four more during the Calder Cup Playoffs. Eight of those 16 games were decided by a single goal or less (shootout).
Abbotsford feasted on Laval’s porous defensive play to score 11 goals: 9 at evens, one on the power play, and one empty netter. Despite the chasm in defensive play between the two clubs, Laval kept Abbotsford on their heels, scoring seven goals, including four at 5v5. Calgary’s defence is considerably more experienced, older, bigger, and stronger. If Abbotsford can’t outpace the Wrangler’s defence to score at 5v5, it could be a disappointing weekend debut at home.
I’m still riding the positivity high of my last Stanchies, so I’m going to guess the Canucks go 50/50 in two more games decided by single-digit goal differentials.
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