Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
The Farmies: Nils Åman welcomes Jack Campbell back to the AHL with two goals in 4-1 victory
3 months ago
It’s really been a banner month for Vancouver Canucks fans, hasn’t it?
The Big Boy Club leads the NHL in goals scored, goal differential, and regulation wins and is second only to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference by points and points percentage.
Vancouver made it 3-zip against the Oilers in the season head-to-head with a 6-2 victory on Monday night, outscoring their Pacific Division rival 18-6 through three games played.
The 2023-24 systematic destruction of the Oilers’ organization extended to the AHL team on Thursday night, with the Abbotsford Canucks’ 4-1 defeat of the Bakersfield Condors.
It was a rude welcome back to the AHL for Jack Campbell, who returned between the pipes for an AHL franchise for the first time since 2018. Unfortunately for Campbell, the Bakersfield Condors’ weak defensive play with the puck gave the Edmonton Oilers’ soft defensive play a run for their money. Defensive gaffes, turnovers, giveaways, and missed coverage plagued the Condors in their lackadaisical performance against the Jr. Canucks.
The end result? A multitude of hilarious highlights for Canucks fans starring Abbotsford’s elite shooters and a disappointing number of lowlights for the Edmonton Oilers and their much-maligned $25-million dollar ex-starting netminder.
Let’s get into the game and see how this one played out!
Bit of a slow start for both clubs, with Bakersfield and Abbotsford, exchanging fruitless chip-and-chase efforts until a pinch at the blue line by Cole McWard gave way to the first goal of the evening.
First, while pressuring in Bakersfield’s end, McWard activated off the blue line to try and catch a caroming puck down the right wall. McWard missed the puck, springing old friend Greg McKegg out of the d-zone and into the neutral zone. While fending off a backchecking Josh Passolt, McKegg avoided a hip-check attempt from Alex Kannok Leipert while gaining the blue line.
The veteran McKegg shook Passolt off his tail, dropping the puck to Seth Griffith for a missile over Silovs’ blocker side on Bakersfield’s first shot of the game.
GOAL – 1-0 Bakersfield Condors: Seth Griffith from Greg McKegg
The Canucks were on their heels following the goal, looking completely lost in the d-zone, trying to stifle the Condors’ puck cycling.
The following GIF encapsulates the first eight minutes of play from Abbotsford. Lots of lost battles along the boards, Bakersfield rotating effectively through the high slot, and Canucks defenders caught puck-watching, missing their checks.
Danila Klimovich, Max Sasson, and Linus Karlsson’s line generated Abbotsford’s first run of sustained pressure inside the offensive zone pressure. But the game quickly returned to Bakersfield’s favour when they subbed out.
In fact, Klimovich did plenty of work for Abbotsford in the first chunk of the game. Seemingly, whenever he hit the ice, he was gaining the zone for Abbotsford and sparking scoring chances.
Past the midway point of the period, Klim gained the zone, opened up his hips to shake his check, and then faked a drop to the blue line before hooking a shot on Jack Campbell. It was pretty slick.
Then, Christian Wolanin drew the game’s first penalty that handed Bakersfield’s 18th-ranked power play the first man advantage of the evening.
Fortunately, 50 seconds into the power play, Bakersfield’s Adam Erne overskated a pass to the blue line, gifting Nils Åman and Arshdeep Bains a 2-on-none shorthanded freebie.
Though Jack Campbell did well to challenge Åman’s initial shot, the rebound was directed right to the tape of Åman’s stick, leading to an easy tap-in equalizer.
GOAL – 1-1 TIE: Nils Åman unassisted
The shorty seemed to rattle the Bakersfield power play unit, as they finished their first power play without a shot on net.
The Condors responded in kind, though.
For two of the final three minutes of the period, the Condors put on a possession clinic. For two straight minutes, a Canucks’ fivesome featuring Ty Glover, Jett Woo, Christian Wolanin, Åman, and Klimovich could not, under any circumstances, defend the Condors’ cycle. It wasn’t until a board-and-out from Åman that the exhausted Canucks could execute a line change.
It was genuinely hard to watch all the missed checks, misplays of the puck, tired legs, and the repeated choices of Jett Woo to play the body instead of simply going for the puck to settle the run of play for a clean exit.
Fortunately, it wasn’t a completely miserable close to the period.
After capitalizing on Phil Kemp’s flubbed cross-ice pass, Arshdeep Bains played the puck off his skate for a quick dash toward the slot before dropping off for Marc Gatcomb, who ripped a shot off of Campbell’s left pad.
Despite the shocking run of possession time in Bakersfield’s favour, the Canucks finished the opening frame outshot 9 to 8.
Not great. Not terrible.
Perhaps, looking to make up for his misplay on the shorthanded goal from Åman, Adam Erne undressed Arturs Silovs after blitzing around Jett Woo for an empty-net scoring chance.
Fortunately, for the goalie guild and state media’s sake, Erne lost control of the puck after catching Woo reaching with the stick and yanking Silovs way out of his crease.
54 seconds into the period, Marc Gatcomb took the club’s second straight penalty to give Bakersfield an early power play opportunity.
Again, the Condors struggled to muster anything in the way of offence for the second straight time. AND AGAIN, Adam Erne missed the loose puck (this time in the d-zone), giving Abbotsford their second straight shorthanded goal!
GOAL – 2-1 Abbotsford Canucks: Sheldon Dries from Linus Karlsson and Christian Wolanin
Wolanin should get credited with an assist for sparking the neutral zone turnover that sent Dries into the offensive zone. If not for that, then the slight touch on the high slot that slipped the puck under Erne’s stick to Linus Karlsson should do it.
Talk about a rough return to the AHL for Jack Campbell! Campbell’s last AHL game was back in 2018. That’s a long time in hockey years. He’d probably forgotten about the AHL’s chaotic “turnovers only/broken plays only” brand of hockey.
Alas, the Condors’ second power play finished without a shot on goal for the second straight time.
The garbage power play galvanized the Condors into stepping up their game at 5v5. From the end of their power play until the midway point of the second, the Condors dominated with possession inside the Canucks’ zone. To Abbotsford’s credit, they did an incredible job deflecting pucks away from Silovs’ net. Despite spending most of the period inside the d-zone, they held Bakersfield to just three shots on net.
It’s not exactly an ideal way to win hockey games, but it’s one helluva way to frustrate opponents.
Speaking of frustrating. Midway through the period, Nils Åman picked up his second goal of the game. Unfortunately for Jack Campbell, it was one of those goals that fall under the “will want that one back” category.
It was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.
GOAL – 3-1 Abbotsford Canucks: Nils Åman (2) from Danila Klimovich and Josh Passolt
The Abbotsford Centre was pretty empty on Thursday night, and one fan could be heard giving it to Campbell all game.
Every time Campbell touched the puck, you could hear the fan bellowing in a deep baritone yell, “CAMMMMMMMMMMMMMPBELLLLLLLLLL!”
The GIFs don’t capture audio, but the entire arena let out an audible “OOF” at the sight of Åman’s second of the game.
You know it’s been a tough night when the HOME CROWD is letting out an OOF reaction to a goal you’ve allowed.
Credit to Klimovich, though. That’s a fantastic no-look, through-the-legs, backhand pass to the bottom of the left circle to Åman. I’m sure Klim didn’t count on the puck rebounding off Åman’s stick and riding up Campbell’s stick over his left pad into the net. But I doubt the Belarussian cared! The primary assist was Klim’s first point of the season after missing nine straight games due to injury.
In preparation for this game, I had excitedly written about the prospect of the Abbotsford Canucks lighting up Jack Campbell in his AHL return while the Edmonton Oilers lost to the San Jose Sharks.
At this point of the game, the San Jose Sharks held a 1-zip lead over the Edmonton Oilers (not a joke) and the Abbotsford Canucks had overcome some brutal d-zone shifts to score three unanswered on Jack Campbell.
Then they made it four unanswered, and it stopped being fun.
GOAL – 4-1 Abbotsford Canucks: Marc Gatcomb from Filip Johansson and Arshdeep Bains
Sometimes I get so caught up in dreaming of the funniest possible outcome for Canucks fans that I forget the ramifications to the players on the receiving end of those outcomes. Jack Campbell is snakebitten. He’s unfairly shouldered the blame for a spiralling Oilers team being let down by their star players’ aversion to defensive play.
Mental health issues plagued Jack Campbell throughout his storied career, bouncing between the ECHL and AHL before finally playing his way to a full-time NHL starter position with the LA Kings. Those dark days were seemingly behind him after he found his stride with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then he signed a five-year $25-million dollar contract with the Edmonton Oilers, and it’s been a rollercoaster since.
At The Farmies, we are very pro, “players playing to their potential and earning as much money as they can off billionaires in this short existence we called life.” We’re glad Jack Campbell made bank off a short stint in Toronto. We’re happy that Canucks fans got to have some fun at the Oilers expense. We hope that the Oilers/Canucks’ fanbase doesn’t take it any further than this. Campbell’s already been through enough. The poor defensive play of the Oilers (AHL to NHL) can’t always be placed on the shoulders of one netminder.
I digress. The Abbotsford Canucks outshot the Condors 9 to 6 over the middle frame, turning the tide to outshoot the Condors 17 to 15 through 40 minutes.
After three minutes of safe, mistake-free hockey, Bakersfield’s Cameron Wright gained the zone and launched a shot from the blue line on Silovs, which marked the first shot on net in the period.
Five minutes into the final frame, Adam Erne wheeled around Sheldon Dries and Matt Irwin for a wraparound chance on Silovs. Silovs got down into a split to make an incredible stop on Erne’s wraparound attempt.
The Canucks trio of Åman, Gatcomb, and Klimovich then spent (what felt like) an eternity stuck inside the d-zone after icing the puck 500 consecutive times (exaggerated, but only slightly).
After 10 minutes, the Bakersfield Condors had spent the run of play inside the Canucks’ zone but were again held to a marginal amount of shots on goal.
Following a TV timeout, the Canucks got their legs back under them and began pouring the pressure on late.
Arshdeep Bains woke up the crowd with a booming hit on Philip Broberg behind Campbell’s net.
All in all, the Canucks played fantastic shutdown hockey to close the game, peppering Campbell with the occasional chance while holding the Condors to just a single shot on Silovs over the final 10 minutes.
It was boring as hell! But it gave Abbotsford their second straight victory!
Abbotsford Canucks defeat the Bakersfield Condors 4-1
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
Nils Åman earns our first star of the night for his two goals and impressive two-way play in a heavily increase role. Due to the club’s lack of experience in the bottom six, Åman frequently double-shifted as the center for a host of different line combinations by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Despite his dramatically increased minutes ranging from matchup minutes with Dries and Bains to 3rd line minutes with Klimovich and Sasson, Åman’s pace never slowed and was a threat on every shift.
Speaking of, Danila Klimovich earns our second star of the night for his first point of the season after a lengthy stint on IR, and the team-lead in shots on goal with four total.
The third star goes to Arturs Silovs, who overcame a brutal start (a goal against on the first shot faced) to stop 19 of 20 over 60 minutes. Thursday’s game was the second straight time Silovs allowed fewer than one goal. His season save percentage is still sub-0.900, but these last two games have been a decent improvement after a rough sophomore campaign as Abbotsford’s starting netminder.
Best “not the Stanchies, but close enough to include a jersey botch”
Next up on the Docket
The Abbotsford Canucks run it back against the Condors Saturday night at 7 PM PST.
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