Previewing the Abbotsford Canucks final doubleheader homestand of 2023 versus the Ontario Reign

Cody Severtson
5 months ago
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Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles, will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles, will be miles away
Just one final doubleheader at home to go before a week-long Holiday break for Abbotsford.
Then it’s an 11-day road trip to the States to close out 2023 and ring in the New Year.
Let’s get right into it!
Week 9 predictions review
They’re going to get crushed by Coachella one more time before beating Tucson twice. BOOK IT!
In a way, I was right about the loss to the Coachella Firebirds. A string of undisciplined play from the Canucks gave the Firebirds 10 power play opportunities, even drawing a game misconduct and one-game suspension against Sheldon Dries. Aatu Räty had one of his finer games of the season, and yet, his two goals weren’t enough to overcome the Canucks discipline issues—indeed, a crushing loss.
The series against Tucson didn’t start off as hoped. Arty Silovs gave up five goals on 14 shots while the team in front of him looked slow, tired, and listless en route to their first shutout loss of the season. The rematch saw a polar opposite performance, with Abbotsford curbing their biggest losing streak of the season with a 6-2 victory.
Team Stats
League Stats
The three-game series against Coachella and Tucson did little to bump Abbotsford up or down the shot control charts. They’re still conceding more shots on average than generating, but only by the slimmest of margins—a nothingburger.
Division Standings
Scoring Leaders
Arshdeep Bains’ cold streak continues. After racking up 16 points in the first ten games, Bains has quietly accrued just six points in the 12 games since. He still leads the club in points, but Sheldon Dries, Linus Karlsson, and Aatu Räty have quietly closed the gap on his once-seismic lead.
Speaking of Räty, he failed to improve his stranglehold on the 5v5 scoring leaderboards. Though, I doubt he’s complaining about two power play goals against Coachella or the primary assist on the empty-netter against Tucson.
It was a solid debut for Nick Cicek, who was on the ice for two of the club’s five goals scored at 5-on-5 against Tucson on Saturday. Cicek made his debut playing on his off-side with Matt Irwin.
Injury Report
Max Sasson missed the desert road swing, still recovering from a concussion. Danila Klimovich remains out of the lineup due to an undisclosed injury. Akito Hirose has not been seen since limping gingerly off the ice against Laval. Filip Johansson has not been available to Abbotsford over the last three games due to injury.
Linus Karlsson took a big hit against Tucson late in the third period and may be out of Wednesday night’s matchup against Ontario.
Games # 25 and 26 versus the Ontario Reign
The last time these two clubs met was in late October, with the Canucks missing the services of Danila Klimovcih, Chase Wouters, Matt Irwin, Tristen Nielsen, and Vasily Podkolzin.
The Canucks held their own, outshooting their Pacific Division Rival 25 to 23, but losing out on the special teams war en route to a 5-3 loss on the road.
The Canucks appear to have righted the ship with the win against Tucson, and with the four-day gap between games, hopefully, some much-needed R&R will add some helpful bodies back to the lineup.
The Reign sit fourth in the AHL by points but are quite “mid” in the goalscoring department, ranking 11th-best in total goals scored and 14th-best by goals scored per game. Where Ontario has shined this year in goal prevention. Rookie netminder Erik Portillo has put together an incredible campaign for the Reign, posting an 8-1-0 record with one shutout, a .924 save percentage, and a 2.14 goals-against average. Meanwhile, the Reign’s main starter, David Rittich, has put up a respectable .901 save percentage, including three shutouts and a 7-6-3 record.
On special teams, the Reign have the 11th-best power play, converting on 20% of their power play opportunities, and the 10th-best penalty kill in the league, killing off 84.9% of opposing power plays. The Canucks penalty kill—no thanks to the 10-spot the Coachella Valley Firebirds racked up last Wednesday—sits 4th-best in the league, killing 85.6% of power play opportunities against while scoring the third-most shorthanded goals.
This series will come down to goaltending and even-strength scoring. Both teams have impressive home and away records, with Abbotsford’s 10th-best points percentage on home ice and Ontario’s 2nd-best points percentage on the road. As the away team, the Reign have put together the league’s best penalty kill at 92.1%. That shouldn’t be too concerning for Abbotsford Canucks’ fans, who are all too familiar with the Farm’s comically-inept power play, which ranks 6th-last in the AHL at 14.3%.
At home, the Canucks’ power play ranks SECOND LAST in the AHL, operating at a dismal 10.3%.
Let’s hope the referees put the whistles away for this series because nobody wants a repeat of last Wednesday’s overly long special teams extravaganza.
Week 10 Predictions 
I’m in the festive spirit, so I’m picking Abbotsford to win both games at home.
Too positive?
I don’t care.
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