Previewing the Abbotsford Canucks’ California road trip to finish week three
1 month ago
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It was a surprisingly dark day for the diehard Canucks fans that follow CanucksArmy’s coverage of prospects and the AHL team.
First, Chris Faber announced his departure from the site and CanucksConversation. Then, Vasily Podkolzin suffered a horrific injury against the Colorado Eagles.
Fortunately, the team at CanucksArmy is pulling out all the stops to ensure a seamless transition to non-Faberable prospect coverage. Still, it was a heartbreaker of a day for those of us who’ve loved the big man from Nanaimo’s glass-half-full perspective on the Vancouver Canucks’ prospects.
I can’t promise I’ll share the same brand of optimism, but I’ll do my best to provide the best analysis and coverage of the Abbotsford Canucks’ season!
With that, let’s get into the Abbotsford’s weekend road trip to California that bookends their third week of the season.
Mid-week 3 predictions reviewOnce again, I predict a split in results. However, I’m picking Abbotsford to pick up three points again, winning one in regulation and losing one via the shootout.
For the second straight week, I went 50/50 on my predictions. Despite getting outshot 54 to 33 at 5v5, 65 to 53 across all situations, the Canucks’ leaned on their shooting prowess and the stalwart goaltending performances of Nikita Tolopilo and Arturs Silovs to secure four crucial points against a division rival.
Less than 24 hours after posting a selfie of himself in a hospital gown with the caption, “All good! No worries!” Vasily Podkolzin was spotted around Rogers Arena, chipper, looking good, and even quoted by Ryan Johnson as having said that “he feels great.”
That Russian boy built different.
We’ll see if Podkolzin makes the trip with the team for the three-game road trip. But it would not be surprising if the team lets him take this trip off to focus on being 100% for the team’s four-game homestand beginning next Friday.
With Podkolzin’s status up in the air, the club recalled forward Ty Glover from Kalamazoo. Glover, who was acquired in the deal that sent Jack Rathbone and Karel Plaesk to Pittsburgh for Mark Friedman, scored a goal and a pair of assists in two games with the Wings this past week.
Games # 6 @ San Diego
First up on the docket is a game against former Kamloops Blazer Olen Zellwegger and the San Diego Gulls.
The Gulls are looking to rebound from a two-game losing streak to prevent a repeat of last season, when they finished with the worst record, goal differential, total goals, goals for per-game, power play, you name it, they were at the bottom of the list. They were so bad.
Kicking off their 2023-24 campaign with two wins put them 1/10th of the way toward matching their total wins from last season.
Again, they were very bad, folks.
Through four games, the Gulls have performed admirably. They’ve received above 0.900 goaltending from Alex Stalock and All-Name Team member Calle Clang. Their young rookies, Zellwegger and Jacob Perrault, are top five in team scoring, and their power play and penalty kill sit 3rd and 17th in the AHL, respectively.
Fortunately, for Abbotsford, they’re somehow worse at preventing shots against than they are! The Canucks are conceding the 7th-highest shots against per game, while the Gulls are conceding the 4th-highest shots against per game. While Nikita Tolopilo and Arturs Silovs have combined for a 0.902 save percentage, Stalock and Clang have combined for a 0.932 save percentage.
This one will come down to Abbotsford staying out of the box and avoiding the terror that is San Diego’s power play. Abbotsford’s PK is slightly below league-average—79.2% vs. 82.9%—where the Gulls’ power play has converted on 28.6% of their 14 power play opportunities.
Nikita Tolopilo has put in a lot of work to wrestle the starter crease away from Arturs Silovs, who looked better against Colorado on Wednesday but still hasn’t found his stride. Given the Gulls’ power play threat, and Silovs’ sub-900 save percentage while shorthanded, it would not be a shock to see Tolopilo start between the pipes for game 1 of this road trip.
Game # 7 @ Ontario
Things change quickly in the AHL.
For a fleeting moment, the Ontario Reign looked like the apex franchise of the Pacific Division. As the LA Kings engaged in their rebuild, they iced an AHL team comprised exclusively of U24, drafted prospects and only a handful of veterans. At first, they were really bad. Then, their young core came into their own, and they became the 3rd best team in the Western Conference. Before they could build off their 2021-22 success, the LA Kings began profiting from their development program. Players like Helge Grans, Tobias Bjornfot, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Sean Durzi, and Jordan Spence went from AHL staples to tweeners, and suddenly, the Ontario Reign were back embroiled in the struggle.
To start 2023-24, the Reign have struggled to score and prevent goals. They’re currently rocking the 4th-lowest shooting percentage in the league despite generating the 7th-most shots per game. On special teams, their power play has been league average, while their penalty kill is 3rd-worst in the AHL.
This all comes as great news for Abbotsford, whose sub-par power play could use a confidence boost off this California road trip.
Week 3 Predictions
Given that I just suggested the Canucks’ power play could use a confidence booster from the Reign’s 3rd-worst penalty kill in the AHL, I predict that Abbotsford wins the goaltending duel in San Diego in regulation, then gets shut out in Ontario on Sunday.
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