Photo credit:© David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
The Farmies: “guys are getting an opportunity they want and aren’t doing enough with it” says Colliton after loss to Barracuda
23 days ago
Sigh…I’ve really got to stop doing predictions in the weekly Abbotsford previews.
Given how poorly the Canucks have done lately, I’m going to curb the enthusiasm and predict that they lose one in overtime and win one in regulation in very high-scoring affairs.
Despite generating six minutes of power play time against the League’s second-worst penalty kill, and despite playing a team without their leading scorer Daniil Gushchin and captain due to late injuries, the Abbotsford Canucks lost to the worst team by points and points percentage on home ice by a score of 2-1.
Granted, they almost lost 2-zip were it not for a gift from the PDO gods in the dying minutes of a perfect road performance from the visiting Barracuda.
Jeremy Colliton was blunt in his assessment of his club’s performance. “I think we keep seeing this movie, where we put ourselves in a hole, and it’s too hard to come back.” An exasperated Colliton said after the game, “We had our chances as the game went on, but we’re still not understanding what we need to do to give ourselves a chance to win every night.”
Damning words from the team’s head coach.
I promise there was some interesting stuff to read about from Friday night’s game.
Let’s get into it.
Arturs Silovs looked sharp early, making a clean stop on a Gannon Laroque clapper following a turnover from Alex Kannok Leipert inside the d-zone.
It wasn’t a sharp start for Danila Klimovich, who took out his frustrations inside the penalty box after putting the Canucks on the penalty kill less than two minutes into the game.
For the PK-tracing dorks like myself, neither Tristen Nielsen nor Vasily Podkolzin featured on the rotations. Jeremy Colliton alternated his usual pairings Chase Wouters with John Stevens, followed by Arshdeep Bains alongside Aatu Räty.
The Canucks conceded two shots on the PK but were otherwise totally in control of the situation. Upon the reset at 5-on-5, the Canucks began dictating the pace of play with their relentless chip-and-chase efforts.
Max Sasson registered the club’s first dangerous chance of the game, capitalizing on a misplayed breakout attempt by Laroque for a wrist shot off Georgi Romanov’s blocker.
Near the midway point of the opening frame, Vasily Podkolzin carried the puck into the offensive zone and drew several Barracuda toward him near the right wing. The space created by Podkolzin’s skating and puckhandling led to a dangerous chance for Nick Cicek up the middle.
A sloppy line change from Max Sasson gave way to the game’s first goal. Unfortunately, for the bad guys, San Jose.
San Jose Goal, 1-0 Barracuda: Nathan Todd from Ethan Frisch and Cole Cassels
It was a tough sequence for Abbotsford overall. Moments before Todd’s goal, the Canucks’ second line was being suffocated in the d-zone by the Barracuda’s attack. Cole McWard attempted a stretch pass through the middle to Sasson but was out of the centreman’s reach. The Barracuda pressed up to steal McWard’s pass and rush into the offensive zone. Matt Irwin pressed up to challenge Frisch at the blue line, and McWard followed suit, tracking Tristen Robbins as he waded in behind Irwin down the right wing. Frisch threaded a picture-perfect pass to Todd past Irwin and McWard to Todd for the deflection over Silovs’ blocker side.
Colliton likely didn’t appreciate McDonough’s backchecking effort either. After taking two strides through the neutral zone, the 24-year-old took his foot off the gas, electing to hold his stick out toward the blueline to eliminate the d-to-d pass instead of sticking with Todd as he split down the middle.
Less than four minutes later, ex-Canuck Kyle Rau doubled the Barracuda’s lead with a slick last-second tip on a Niolai Knyzhov one-timer.
San Jose Goal, 2-0 Barracuda: Kyle Rau from Nikolai Knyzhov and Gannon Laroque
While the Canucks were strong off the forecheck, they were frequently caught either too deep below the hash marks on the retreat or not deep enough. The inability to manage their gap or their man-to-man coverage yielded two unsightly goals to the Pacific Division’s worst team.
On the bright side, the club closed the period, having outshot the Barracuda 4-2 over the final six minutes, and that was after going on a second PK, too!
With the Canucks trailing by two goals, Colliton played it safe with his forward pairs for the second straight PK. Wouters/Stevens, Bains/Räty, and Gatcomb/Räty to go 2/2 on the kill.
Lines were in a blender for the second period. Klimovich was dropped to the fourth line with Wouters and Jermaine Loewen, Aidan McDonough was dropped to a third line with John Stevens and Marc Gatcomb, Aatu Räty was thrown onto a second line with Vasily Podkolzin and Arshdeep Bains, and Max Sasson, Tristen Nielsen, and Linus Karlsson were loaded up onto the first line.
The early results were mixed. The two teams traded even in shots, but the Barracuda generated the most dangerous chance of the period after another sloppy backchecking effort gave San Jose a two-on-one rush.
Were it not for the tip of Silovs’ paddle, this would have been an ugly 3-nothing game.
A rush chance from McDonough sparked some life in the Canucks’ game, even if they were incapable of getting shots through traffic in the near-two-minute-long cycle that generated from his rush.
In fact, the most notable moment from the cycle came on the retreat, when Cole McWard got his stick around Thomas Bordeleau to deny him the breakaway opportunity.
Danila Klimovich responded with a breakaway chance off a forced turnover from Chase Wouters inside the d-zone.
A few minutes later, the Canucks drew a penalty against Ethan Frisch to give Abbotsford their first power play opportunity of the game. Colliton rolled out a re-jigged PP1 featuring Klimovich, McWard, Nielsen, Bains, and Karlsson.
Though they spent a full two minutes inside the offensive zone, the Canucks only managed three shots on goal. On the bright side, all three were the result of Danila Klimovich’s work from the left circle. He looked better than ever, firing passes and ripping one-timers on Romanov confidently from the wing.
Upon the return to 5-on-5, Matt Irwin shot a pass to Podkolzin after spotting him all alone in the left circle. Podkolzin needed an extra second to settle the puck before picking his angle, giving Romanov enough time to square himself to Podz’ shot.
Late in the game, the refs assessed Jett Woo with a hooking penalty against Lane Pederson after the former tied up with the ex-Canuck while taking away a rebound opportunity. It was a pretty soft call on what looked to be just a routine stick lift.
The Canucks’ PK made it 3/3 on the night, denying the Barracuda any shots on net ahead of the period’s conclusion.
After the line blender failed to yield any fruit in the second period, Colliton returned to the lines he began the game with for the opening faceoff of the final frame.
Again, however, it was Danila Klimovich providing the Canucks with life. On his first shift of the final period, Klimovich carried into the offensive zone, coasted through centre ice to the right circle for a sneaky writer through traffic, rebounding dangerously to the side of the net for Chase Wouters to crash down on.
The Barracuda’s Scott Sabourin was gifted a freebie early when John Stevens misplayed the puck along the d-zone half wall, giving him a glorious scoring chance from point-blank range on Silovs.
Beyond those two chances in the first five minutes, it was an incredibly dull, actionless effort from the trailing home team. The first ten minutes saw both teams combine for eight shots total.
After a TV timeout, Aatu Räty took a stick to the jaw immediately after an offensive zone faceoff, drawing blood.
Colliton went with his re-jigged PP1 to start the four-minute double-minor power play.
Ex-Canuck Jack Studnicka broke the puck out of the d-zone, eating 30 seconds off the clock and forcing the Canucks into a prolonged stretch of trying (and failing) to establish a cycle. After one minute, Colliton threw out a re-jigged second-unit power play featuring Podkolzin, Räty, Sasson, Woo, and Kannok Leipert.
After PP2 struggled to generate anything, PP1 hopped back over the boards, where another minute went by, and another zero shots were generated. Räty registered the only shot of the four-minute power play, with a shot along the goal line.
It was very not good.
Fortunately, after the last TV timeout of the game, the Canucks fourth line broke Romanov’s shutout streak with a hilarious gift from the PDO gods, with a deeply-awkward backhander over Romanov’s glove from Marc Gatcomb off a centring pass from Chase Wouters.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal, 2-1 Barracuda: Marc Gatcomb from John Stevens and Chase Wouters
The late goal to halve the Barracuda’s lead finally put some fire in the Canucks’ step. The timing couldn’t have been better because Nick Cicek was asked to get on his horse to deny the Barracuda a near-empty netter just seconds after Silovs hit the bench for the extra attacker.
The Canucks thoroughly controlled play over the final few minutes, with Silovs pulled for the sixth attacker. Unfortunately, as they had earlier in the game, Abbotsford struggled to translate their possession into meaningful shots on goal. Across three minutes of 6-on-5 action, the Canucks would muster just a single shot on net.
On a late faceoff win by Sasson, Podkolzin drilled a one-timer into the shins of a diving Nathan Todd in the dying seconds of the period, ending any hope of a hail-mary comeback.
For the sixth straight time, the Canucks drop the first game of a back-to-back series.
“We have typically responded [in game two]. If you go back to the [six-game] homestand, it was a game like this, and then one professional game.” A frustrated Colliton acknowledged the team’s gameplay tendencies, and wasn’t mincing words during his post-game availability about it. “The problem is, you’re going to be games where you play well and lose anyway, so you can’t really afford to be giving away games, which has happened too often lately.”
Interestingly, Colliton was sharp in his critique of the youth on his team, who’ve seemingly wanted more of an opportunity yet have failed to do anything with it. “We have young players who are leaders, we have young players who are playing huge roles, but if you want those roles, then responsibility comes with it,” said Colliton. “Probably, if we had a healthier group, then some of those guys [given opportunity] wouldn’t be playing, or they’d be playing less. That part’s frustrating because we have some guys getting an opportunity that they want and aren’t doing enough with it.”
San Jose Barracuda defeat the Abbotsford Canucks 2-1
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
Danila Klimovich earns our first star of the night for overcoming a frustrating early penalty to record a team-high six shots on net while generally being the only guy recording or sparking dangerous chances.
The second star belongs to Arturs Silovs for his incredible paddle save on the two-on-one rush that held the Barracuda’s lead at two-zip. Colliton credited Silovs for preventing the game from getting completely out of reach. “We turned pucks over, all over the ice. We took poor routes to battles. Weren’t willing to go through people to advance pucks.” Said Colliton when asked for reasons why the club fell into a hole during the first period. “I thought we had some terrible changes, and some of them didn’t end up in the back of our net, but the game could have been totally out of reach if not for some excellent saves from Arty.”
The third star belongs to Chase Wouters, who sparked the goal sequence for Marc Gatcomb with a solid rush through the middle before drawing two San Jose defenders toward him to open the door for Gatcomb’s tap-in opportunity. That, combined with the PK going 3/3 with him playing a more-than-significant role, is why he earns the star honours over Gatcomb, who was the guy to actually put the Canucks within striking distance.
Next up on the Docket
The Canucks run it back Saturday night against the Barracuda. Hopefully, they have more fire in their belly than they showed tonight.
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