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Previewing the Abbotsford Canucks’ final Aatu Raty-less road trip
1 year ago
With one win in their last eight games, the Abbotsford Canucks have officially entered their slump era.
Since January 15th, the numbers have not been on the Farm’s side. Since January 15th, the club has compiled a 1-5-1-1 record while being outscored 29-22 across all situations. Their power play collapsed, scoring a measly 4 goals over 38 opportunities — one hour and 16 minutes of total ice time spent on the man advantage — performing half as well as they’ve done on the power play thus far.
Despite the results and ugly special teams, all was not completely lost! The Farm’s penalty kill performed above its season average — 77.8% over eight games versus 76.2% — conceding six goals over 52 minutes of ice time spent shorthanded. Their PK is still sixth-worst in the AHL, but it was better than before the slump!
Additionally, despite being outscored 29-22 overall, they did break even at 5v5. Against the Calgary Wranglers, Toronto Marlies, and Tucson Roadrunners, the Farm scored and conceded 15 goals while outshooting their opponents 195-152 at 5v5. Score effects play heavily into the lopsided shot differentials, but the results were not from a lack of trying. Through their first 35 games, Abbotsford had converted on 12.8% of their shots across all situations. Over the losing skid, Abbotsford had converted on just 8% of shots. 4.8% doesn’t seem like much of a difference. However, an extra 4.8% conversion rate is an additional 13 goals against 273 shots.
With the Vancouver Canucks trading their captain Bo Horvat for a mix of “help now” pieces and futures, including 20-year-old center prospect Aatu Räty and a protected 2023 1st-round pick, expect the Farm to continue rolling with a kid-heavy AHL squad as they try to work through their first real schneid of the season.
Before we preview the series against the Gulls and the Barracuda, let’s quickly review our last-last week’s predictions!
Week 15 predictions review
Should Abbotsford perform at its peak, we predict the Canucks will draw at least three points from three games. The Abbotsford Canucks seem to find another gear at home, and even without Rathbone in the lineup, we expect that trend to continue against Calgary.That being said, three straight losses would not be surprising. Calgary is very good.
We were optimistic that the Farm could at least eke more than three points against a well-regarded Calgary Wranglers club, especially considering how well Abbotsford has performed while at home. Unfortunately, despite forcing extra time in two of three games, the Farm could not push for the two points.
We forgot a week 16 preview, sorry
Like the Abbotsford Canucks against the Marlies last Wednesday, we too, forget to show up for the home crowd from time to time. As such, we forgot to predict the series against the Roadrunners. Whoops!
Fortunately, despite the Wednesday disappointment! The Farm did rally back from three straight losses to the Wranglers with a dominant Tuesday-night win against the Marlies! Arturs Silovs recorded his second shutout of the season, the penalty kill went 2/2, and Nils Höglander scored 2 goals! However, the team’s performance cratered once more during their visit to Tucson. Across two games, the Farm was outscored 11-5 as their power play went 0/6, and their penalty kill went 2/4.
The club also lost Guillaume Brisebois to a high elbow to the head from ex-Canucks’ property Adam Cracknell. Despite the lack of production, Jeremy Colliton has cited Brisebois as one of the club’s best defenceman during his tenure as head coach. The 25-year-old left-shot defenceman has missed five games this season due to injury, and it remains to be seen when he returns to action.
Sitting comfortably fourth in the AHL’s Pacific Division, the club’s games against the Gulls and the Barracuda aren’t necessarily “must-win.” I’m sure the players would probably prefer to return to their December form, where they went 9-2-0-0 while outscoring opponents 50-28.
5v5 scoring leaders
Game 43 @ San Diego Gulls
The first stop on the road back to the win column is their final game in their season series against the AHL’s worst team in the league by points, points percentage, shot generation, and shot suppression, the Anaheim Ducks’ affiliate San Diego Gulls!
Unfortunately, the Farm will be without the services of Lane Pederson, who destroyed the Gulls during his brief Abbotsford tenure, scoring 4 goals and 2 primary assists through three games—defaulting as the resident “Gull killer” in Pederson’s absence is Christian Wolanin, whose 5 assists over three games lead the pack.
Despite the Gulls’ uncanny inability to generate shots or prevent them, they’ve managed to hold the 13th-best penalty kill in the AHL while scoring the third-highest shorthanded goals! While Abbotsford may not see their power play woes rebound in San Diego, the track record suggests they will continue to dominate their Division rival at 5v5.
At 5v5, the Canucks have outshot the Gulls 72-49 while outscoring them 11-5. Playing into the “Abbotsford has a bad penalty kill” storyline, the Gulls have scored a power play goal in every game against Abbotsford this season. Will that streak continue in their final meeting of the season? Or, will the Farm defy the odds and leave the Gulls empty-handed on the man advantage?
Knock on wood, but I think they can do it!
Game 44 & 45 @ San Jose Barracuda
While not exactly a giant step up in competition compared to the San Diego Gulls, the San Jose Barracuda are in the “Tucson Roadrunner tier” of teams that are deceptively better than their record indicates.
Though the Barracuda rank 30th in the AHL by total goals scored and goals scored per game, a lot of their inability to score appears to be percentages driven. Through their 43 games played, the Barracuda are converting on only 8.73% of their shots, good for the 2nd-worst shooting percentage in the AHL. Additionally, the Barracuda’s goaltending has not been up to snuff. Their average save percentage of 0.891 ranks 22nd in the AHL.
Conversely, Abbotsford sits with the 9th-highest shooting percentage in the AHL at 10.98%, while their average save percentage of 0.885 sits 7th-worst in the AHL. As the stats nerd’s say, “both teams are getting PDO’d pretty badly.” The Barracuda just happen to be getting “PDO’d” a bit worse than Abbotsford.
Unlike Lane Pederson, the Canucks will have resident “Barracuda killer” Justin Dowling available this weekend. Through the club’s four games against San Jose, Dowling has 2 goals and 4 assists total.
Week 17 predictions
With the addition of Aatu Räty for the club’s doubleheader weekend in San Jose and the potential return of Jack Rathbone to the starting lineup, the Canucks have an excellent opportunity to put their recent slump in the rearview mirror quickly. Especially if they can drag their Californian opponents into playing undisciplined hockey. Against both opponents, the Canucks have converted on 22.9% of their power play opportunities. Expect a high DAWG/60 week 17, with Vancouver’s youth leading the charge.
Both California teams enter their matchups on the heels of significant losing skids over their last ten games. Therefore, we predict the Abbotsford Canucks to prevail with six points out of a possible six.
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