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Blackfish: Silovs secures a shutout, Lekkerimäki’s playoff hopes hang in the balance, and NCAA playoff insights and more

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Photo credit:Nick Barden
Dave Hall
4 months ago
Welcome back to Blackfish, CanucksArmy’s weekly prospect report.
We are diving right into things this week.
But first, the updated statistics.

Abbotsford Canucks

The mood surrounding the Abbotsford Canucks seems to vary from week to week, and this past week was no different.
Despite starting with two consecutive losses, the Canucks rebounded strongly with a decisive 6-0 win against the Henderson Silver Knights, who had beaten them just the day before.
The team is now 5-4-1-0 over their last 10 games and finds themselves treading the line of a playoff berth with the seventh and final Pacific Division playoff spot.
The standout performer last week was Arshdeep Bains, who returned to his typical point-producing form. He notched two goals and three assists throughout the week, getting himself back on track following his NHL stint.
Placed on a line with the struggling Aidan McDonough, Bains seemed to ignite the 24-year-old’s game.
McDonough delivered one of his best statistical weeks, contributing two goals and an assist to find himself on his first three-game point streak as an AHL’er.
The first goal came off a stellar effort from Bains, who battled along the boards to win possession before delivering a cross-ice dish to McDonough to bury a one-timer.
The following day, McDonough found the back of the net from the same spot in the right-side circle, scoring back-to-back goals for the first time as a pro.
These goals were reminiscent of his scoring prowess during his four years at Northeastern, which we have not seen since his move to the AHL. Let’s hope he can build off that, as the team heads toward its final stretch.
Tristen Nielsen picked up a goal and two assists, extending his recent hot streak of six points over his last seven games.
Arturs Silovs stopped all 27 shots in the 6-0 defeat over Henderson, earning first-star honours in his first start since letting in a slap shot from centre ice last Sunday.
Now for the ultimate debate: With Thatcher Demko out for 2-4 weeks, who receives the call-up, Silovs or Nikita Tolopilo?
Silovs, who is on an expiring deal, has posted a 2.74 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage along with a 15-11-6 record and four shutouts. Last season, he also played five games in Vancouver, where he recorded a 3-2 record with a 2.75 GAA and a .908 save percentage.
On the other hand, Nikita Tolopilo boasts a similar stat line to Silovs, with 24 games played, a 2.83 goals-against average, and a .907 save percentage, but has ultimately been the more consistent netminder over the year.
The boys at CanucksConvo said their piece. What say you?

OHL

After a somewhat slower start, Josh Bloom is looking to finish strong in his return to the OHL, tallying another four goals to extend his point streak to seven games.
His recent surge has brought him closer to the point-per-game mark, with 27 points in 29 games.
Are we totally floored by his uptick in production? Not really.
When he was initially sent down, we discussed the likelihood of him needing an adjustment period, as it’s not always as easy to adjust back to the junior ranks.
Sure, after a few games at the pro level, some may expect instant success, but it’s not always that simple. It seems that he may be finally settling into his new environment, and just in time for the playoffs, too.
Vilmer Alriksson stands at a towering 6’6′, 214 lbs, and he just turned 19 a few weeks back. That alone is enough to spark excitement. But when you add in his solid skating ability, soft hands, and a respectable shot, you have one extremely fascinating package for the future.
This week, Vilmer, affectionately known as ‘Ricky Bobby’ in Guelph, showcased each of those attributes, scoring a beautiful goal.
After blocking the shot, he broke up the ice and protected the puck before skillfully shovelling it past the netminder.
Oh, we love to see it.
He’s officially firing at a half-point-per-game, with 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) through 60 games.

SHL/Allsvenskan

Jonathan Lekkerimäki didn’t find the back of the net in either of his three games last week. And when Lekkerimäki isn’t scoring, Örebro tends to lose games–and that’s exactly what happened.
His team now faces a critical situation after dropping all three games last week, which leaves them one point outside of playoff contention with just one game remaining on the season.
Now, their postseason fate hinges on the outcome of MoDo’s final game, a team with ties to many former Canucks legends.
If MoDo wins, Lekkerimäki’s season is over. If Örebro loses, his season ends as well.
From a Canucks fan perspective, there might be a silver lining to Örebro falling short, as it could pave the way for the young sharpshooter to join the Abbotsford Canucks sooner rather than later.
However, whether Lekkerimäki will stay or go is a hot debatable question, with various opinions, depending on who you ask.
Reports from Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali suggest that he may opt to stay, regardless of Örebro’s placement, while others think he’ll make the move across the pond immediately.
Let’s look at things objectively, shall we?
If Örebro makes the playoffs, the decision seems pretty straightforward. Lekkerimäki would continue playing in the SHL playoffs and likely stay put until the World Championships in May. Even if they were to be eliminated within round one, that still only allows a month to cross over, inject himself into some practices, and hopefully squeeze in a few games before heading back out for the World Championships.
The timeline doesn’t necessarily make a ton of sense.
However, if Örebro misses the playoffs, it opens up a window of two months for him to potentially adjust and join the AHL team, which feels much more realistic.
Time will tell, but if there is one thing we know for certain, it’s that the Abbotsford Canucks could use the offensive firepower in desperate times.
Lekkerimäki did contribute a secondary assist this week, bringing his season point total to 30.
He also took home his club team’s MVP award.
Lucas Forsell picked up a slick saucered assist over the week, which bumped him up to three points across five games.
With one game remaining in their regular season schedule, Forsell and his club have locked up first place in the SHL and are considered strong candidates to make a deep run in this year’s playoffs.
Obviously, with just four goals and seven points, it hasn’t been the most ideal season for the 20-year-old, who burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old last year.
However, with a top-placed lineup, keep in mind that they have leaned on a more veteran presence, and rightfully so, this season. While you can expect continued fourth-line deployment throughout the playoffs, we remain hopeful that we see a promotion next season.
Looking down at the Allsvenskan, both Canucks’ defensive prospects regular seasons have ended, with both missing the playoffs.
Despite Vasterviks’ failure to secure a playoff berth, however, Hugo Gabrielsson’s season isn’t over yet.
Due to their last-place finish, they face a unique best-of-seven series against the 13th overall team. The loser of this series risks relegation to the HockeyEttan, which is tier-3 Swedish hockey.
They took game one, where Gabrielsson fired home his sixth goal of the season en route to a 3-1 victory.
Then there is Elias Pettersson.
As of Friday, his season in the Allsvenskan is officially over, and according to his agent, he will be heading to Abbotsford to train soon, likely within the week.
We will be publishing a separate piece on where he might fit into the lineup, so keep an eye out for that.
While it may not have been at the SHL level, which we all had hoped, Pettersson had a respectable year and has become a notable name for fans to get excited about.
Despite playing the fewest games among full-time defenders on Västerås (34), he made his presence felt. He finished fourth on the team with 26 hits, contributed 10 blocked shots, and maintained a respectable 52% Corsi For percentage.
Additionally, he chipped in three goals and 14 points, ranking third among U21 defenders.
It’s not likely that he will slide into the lineup immediately, but with 16 games remaining in Abbotsford’s schedule, there is plenty of time to acclimate and squeeze in for the final stretch of hockey.

NCAA

The regular season has wrapped up for each of the Canucks’ collegiate prospects, setting the stage for the playoffs and the upcoming Frozen Four tournament.
Some teams have already begun their playoff campaigns, while others are scheduled to start this week.
The NCAA playoff format can be confusing, as each conference plays a little differently. So, for more information on how it all works, visit the NCAA website.
Michigan kicked off their Big10 playoff schedule over the weekend with a victory in the first round over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Jacob Truscott contributed an assist over the two games.
They are now set to face the Minnesota Gophers in a single-game semifinal matchup, with the winner advancing to the finals on March. 23.
Hockey East, which features four Canucks prospects, concluded its regular season over the weekend, paving the way for the playoffs to commence on Wednesday.
Boston University, which boasts Tom Willander and Aiden Celebrini, received a bye into the quarterfinals which is scheduled to begin on Saturday.
Tom Willander had a big week, notching three assists over two games to wrap up his freshman year with four goals and 21 points (four goals, 17 assists), finishing third among U19 defenders.
As we’ve emphasized all year, his most impressive stat came via his plus/minus, which finished at a whopping plus-24, placing him third among all defenders across the nation.
Aidan Celebrini continues to slide in and out as BU’s sixth or seventh defender.
Jackson Dorrington and his Northeastern Huskies will play in a single-game elimination on Wednesday, in hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals.
Dorrington had a strong sophomore regular season, finishing with six goals and 12 points and a Beanpot Championship while playing primarily second pairing, penalty killing minutes.
Like BU, Boston College and Jack Malone get a free spot in the quarterfinals and await their opponent on Saturday.
Malone, 23, had a respectable junior year, grabbing nine goals and 18 points while playing alongside some top-flight prospects in Gabe Perreault, Cutter Gauthier, and Ryan Leonard.
BC is expected to make a strong push at the Frozen Four tournament this year.
Over in the NCHC, where the Canucks carry three prospects, the quarterfinal table is set for this upcoming weekend.
Jackson Kunz, who stepped up his game in the second half, finished the regular season with six goals and 13 points through 33 games.
Despite starting the season as the 13th forward or glued to the team’s fourth line, he worked his way up to the top-six and spent tons of time on the top power play unit.
North Dakota is the conference’s top team and has a good chance of coming out on top.
Ty Mueller, who’s enjoyed a strong junior year, slowed his role over the last few weeks, contributing zero points over his last five games. His Omaha team finished as the fifth seed in the conference and is set to face the fourth-seeded Colorado College, one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Matthew Perkins skates for the Minnesota Duluth team, which finished as the seventh seed. He concluded his freshman year with six goals and 13 points, and much like Kunz, played much better as the season progressed.
Finally, in the ECAC, we have Aku Koskenvuo and Daimon Gardner.
Harvard skated in a one-game elimination match, where Aku Koskenvuo shone brightly, stopping all 36 shots faced to lead his Crimson to the best-of-three quarterfinals this weekend.
This was Aku’s second shutout of the season, improving his record to 5-5-4 with a solid .914 save percentage.
His efforts awarded him ECAC’s Goaltender of the Week’.
 
Meanwhile, Daimon Gardner’s Clarkson University was knocked out of the playoffs as the fifth seed.
Despite receiving decent deployment initially, it was a relatively quiet freshman year for the 6-foot-4 forward, producing just one goal and six points across 29 games.
Given his towering profile, there’s certainly potential, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing much more from him in his sophomore year.

WHL

Sawyer Mynio‘s season is approaching its final leg, and he seems determined to finish on a high note.
This week, he showcased his impressive shot with two goals and two assists, including his trademark one-timer, which has been a frequent sight throughout the season.
Mynio, is on track to shatter the 50-point mark, currently sitting at 49 points (14 goals, 35 assists) on the season. He sits within the top-10 among WHL defenders in both goals and points.

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