Arturs Silovs named AHL goalie of the month, Danila Klimovich’s slump, and Nielsen’s glow up: Abbotsford Canucks weekly preview
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
8 months ago
I know why you’re here.
After the 7,700 trades announced over four hours on Tuesday, we figure you need a little reprieve — a break from the chaos. So, let’s take a little siesta from the trade deadline fiesta and see how the kids on the Farm are holding up as the NHL club dramatically reshapes Vancouver and Abbotsford’s future over the coming days.
First, let’s take a look at how the Farm performed last week in Mile High City.
Week 20 predictions
The altitude will be a killer, and the back-to-back starts may be a bit much for Spencer Martin. However, we expect Abbotsford to be fired up over the back-to-back losses to San Jose, fueling two hard-fought wins against Colorado this weekend.
This is why they pay me to write and not to provide the Betway daily best bets™!
Consider this. During the club’s back-to-back against the Colorado Eagles; the team was missing Justin Dowling, Christian Wolanin, Guillaume Brisebois, Will Lockwood, and Wyatt Kalynuk from their starting lineup in at least one of those two games.
In game 1, the club celebrated Vinny Arseneau’s 200th career AHL game with a deflating 4-2 defeat. Their fourth loss in five games saw the team rally back from a two-goal deficit in the second period, only to give up 2 goals in the third. The defeat dropped their record to 30-19-2-2 overall, still good for 3rd in the AHL’s Pacific Division by points but 5th by points percentage.
In game 2, the club eked out a shootout victory despite being uncharacteristically outshot 22-15 at 5v5 and 40-28 across all situations. Spencer Martin made his sixth consecutive start and posted his best save percentage of his AHL return, posting a 0.973 and 0.93 goals-against-average. Since returning to the AHL, Martin has posted a 0.895 save percentage and a 3.35 goals-against-average. His 0.889 save percentage at 5v5 through six starts is third-best on the team, only slightly better than Colin Dellia’s 0.881 save percentage at 5v5 through his nine starts.
The best thing to come from Abbotsford’s back-to-back against Colorado was Nils Höglander’s filthy move in the shootout.
The club will try to rebound and better position themselves for potential home playoff hosting dates, starting with a three-game trip to California and Nevada.
Are we happy about swapping from beautiful bar charts to boring excel graphics? No.
Are we aware that those beautiful bar charts are very difficult to read on mobile and desktop? Begrudgingly, yes.
5v5 scoring leaders
5v5 On-ice goal differential
If these user-friendly charts don’t earn us a few comments below, we’re switching to size six font and the most vibrant, impossible-to-read bar charts you’ve ever seen.
Since February 18th, the Vancouver Canucks have recalled Christian Wolanin, Guillaume Brisebois, and Noah Juulsen: 50% of Abbotsford’s top four.
With the recalls of Nils Äman, Vasily Podkolzin, and Aatu Räty, along with the trade of Will Lockwood, Abbotsford is without 4/6ths of their top six.
Adding Arturs Silovs to Abbotsford’s lineup will provide some juicy goalie-guild drama as he and Martin split starts down the stretch. Silovs was named the AHL’s goalie of the month for the month of February. Prior to his callup to the NHL, Silovs put together a 5-0-0 record with one shutout, and a .965 save percentage.
Game 54 against Ontario Reign
The only other time these two teams met this season was in Abbotsford’s season opener, in which they lost by a whopping 8-2. The team was outshot 29-23 at 5v5 and 46-30 across all situations.
Since that initial meeting, the Ontario Reign have compiled a record not dissimilar to the Canucks, having gone 30-18-3-1 in 52 games played, ranking 14th in the AHL by total goals, 12th by goals-per-game, and sixth-fewest goals allowed per game while holding the AHL’s sixth-best power play and fifth-best penalty kill.
By comparison, Abbotsford currently ranks fifth in the league by total goals, eighth by goals-per-game, and 11th-fewest goals allowed per game while holding the AHL’s 15th-best power play and seventh-worst penalty kill. Over Abbotsford’s last five games, their power play has run ice-cold, converting twice on 21 opportunities. Given the number of bodies up in Vancouver, it shouldn’t be surprising that the team’s special teams are struggling of late. Phil Di Giuseppe returned for the club’s series against Colorado and promptly led the team with 11 shots on goal.
Jack Rathbone has taken over power play quarterbacking duties for the first unit but has struggled to find the dynamic spark that defined his rookie season in Abbotsford.
Through 22 games, Rathbone has generated 58 shots on net but has converted for just 2 goals. Since returning from a brutal upper-body injury sustained against the San Diego Gulls, Rathbone has produced just 2 points. Despite the production woes, the Farm has been a net-positive, with Abbotsford having outscored opponents 12-11 with Rathbone on the ice at 5v5.
Rathbone isn’t the only skater struggling of late. Since praising his season turnaround one month ago, Danila Klimovich has embarked on a massive cold streak.
In the 21 games Klim has played since we raved about his 5v5 production, he has scored six points. A goal on the power play, a goal with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker, and 4 points at 5v5. No coincidence that Klim’s struggles are tied to Jeremy Colliton’s decision to move Arshdeep Bains away from Klim and up the lineup to fill the holes in Abbotsford’s top nine.
Game 55 & 56 against Henderson Silver Knights
Now, the head-to-head data against Ontario isn’t encouraging. However, the head-to-head data against Henderson is! In six games against the Vegas Golden Knights’ affiliate, the Farm has thoroughly dominated the shot column but gone dead even in goalscoring. Abbotsford has outshot Henderson 194-58 across all situations and 151-122 at 5v5, only to go even in goals for and against 13-13.
Henderson still ranks dead last in the AHL by shooting percentage at 8.66%, second-last by total points, total goals, and goals per game. When we warned Abby fans of Henderson’s rough shooting percentage luck, the team promptly shut out Abbotsford for the first time all season.
When the two clubs met in mid-December, Abbotsford sat 14th in the AHL by shots generated per game, while Henderson sat 17th. Currently, Abbotsford sits 7th in the AHL by shots generated per game, while Henderson sits 19th. Since that matchup, Abbotsford’s conversion rate has fallen from 8th-best in the AHL at 11.45% to 12th-best at 10.76%. Henderson has improved by the tiniest of margins in shooting luck, having improved from a dead-last shooting percentage of 8.36% to a dead-last shooting percentage of 8.66%! Henderson is still rocking the seventh-best average save percentage in the AHL at 98.4%. So, don’t be shocked if Abbotsford finishes another week in the red.
With Christian Wolanin pulling 2nd pairing duty in Vancouver, the Canucks must lean on Klimovich and Bains to lead the way against Henderson. In Abbotsford’s previous six meetings, these two led Abbotsford with 4 points each against the Silver Knights, while Tristen Nielsen and Linus Karlsson came in second with 3 points apiece.
Karlsson has been a steady producer through the Farm’s 2023 struggles, recording 7 goals and 7 assists over 24 games. Karlsson’s 9 points at 5v5 ranks fourth-most among skaters in 2023.
On the other hand, Nielsen has found another gear in the New Year (hey, that rhymes!), recording nine goals and 9 assists across all situations through the team’s 24 games in 2023. With 8 goals and 6 assists, Nielsen leads the pack in 5v5 production, 3 points above second-placed Kyle Rau and Christian Wolanin’s 11 points at 5v5.
Through Nielsen’s first 29 games, he only managed 7 points at 5v5. His 21 5v5 points are tied with Kyle Rau for the second-most on the team. That is impressive, considering how late into the season it was for him to start regularly producing. Through 2023, the Farm has outscored opponents 18-9 with Nielsen on the ice at 5v5.
Week 21 predictions
Arturs Silovs returns to the lineup and wins his two starts, while Spencer Martin backstops the team to another shootout loss. Expect Silovs to start against Ontario Wednesday night before playing cleanup duty in the Saturday game against Henderson following the conclusion of the NHL trade deadline.
We are setting the floor at 3 points and the ceiling at 5 points for this busy road weekend against two deceptively tough outs.
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