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Previewing the Abbotsford Canucks’ home-set against the Calgary Wranglers

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Photo credit:Cody Severtson
Cody Severtson
1 month ago
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The Abbotsford Canucks return to action after a much-needed week-long reprieve with two games in three nights at home against the visiting Calgary Wranglers.
Hopefully, the time off led to plenty of practice and internal reflection. Though the Farm played decently well against the Colorado Eagles last weekend, they struggled to score and pushed their 2024 record to a dismal 6-7-1-2.
I’ll stick to the positive for this one: they’ve found ways to eke out points and avoid the brutal run of shutouts at the start of January, and their control of shots at 5-on-5 has been positive on aggregate. Their slump has fortunately fallen in line with the rest of the Pacific Division, resulting in very few position changes in the standings.
With a couple of bodies expected back in the lineup, let’s see where the team sits and see how they stack up against this week’s opponent.
Week 18 predictions review
They are 1000000000% going to drop game one.
Then they’ll probably win game two because that’s just how this team rolls in 2024. Get embarrassed in the first game of a series; bounce back with a win in the second.
I know. I know.
I said I’d stop doing these things. But like a true degenerate gambler, I’m riding the high of nailing last week’s game one prediction against Colorado that I couldn’t help but renew the prediction series.
Sure, I flubbed the prediction on game two, but hey, I nailed game one!
Team Stats
League Stats
Through this losing slump, the Abbotsford Canucks underlying control of shots hasn’t really fluctuated.
Despite just four regulation wins in 2024, the Canucks have outshot their opposition on a per-game basis, have posted an elite penalty kill, a positive control of shots at 5-on-5 (373 to 320), and have only been outscored at 5-on-5 40 to 38.
As expected, the club’s shooting percentage has fallen off as their goalscoring rate has atrophied down the stretch. They’re still generating shots at one of the best rates in the league (31 per game) but are converting on only 10.2% of their shots. That’s still a decent clip, but their 16th-rated shooting clip is a far cry from their top-five conversion rate from the first half of the season.
We detailed where the Canucks goalie tandem was falling short in the save percentage department in our last preview series.
No surprise, after both Arturs Silovs and Nikita Tolopilo posted matching .909 save percentages in back-to-back games against the Eagles, their tandem save percentage rose to almost league average.
Division Standings
Scoring Leaders
There wasn’t much change in the scoring charts after the two-game series against Colorado. There were just three goals for Abbotsford over two games, with Jett Woo and Chase Wouters leading the way with two points apiece.
With his goal at 5-on-5 in the third period of their first game against the Eagles, Wouters pulled even with Vasily Podkolzin in 5v5 scoring. Wouters has 5 goals and 7 assists at 5-on-5; Podkolzin has 4 goals and 8 assists at 5-on-5.
Obviously, a single goal at 5-on-5 against the Eagles resulted in every skater’s 5v5 points rate dropping a smidge.
The Canucks gave up four goals to the Eagles at 5-on-5, and Chase Wouters’ on-ice goal differential suffered the most. While he scored the club’s only 5v5 goal last weekend, he was also on the ice for all four of the Eagles’ goals at 5-on-5. Only Marc Gatcomb and Alex Kannok Leipert have worse goal differentials at 5-on-5, minus-10 and minus-11, respectively.
Injury Report
Speaking with Thomas Drance and Jamie Dodd of Sportsnet650’s Canucks Talk, Colliton was confident that the club would see Tristen Nielsen and Sheldon Dries back in action but was less confident that any of the injured defencemen would become available.
The Canucks have been without Sheldon Dries for all of 2024. His return would give the team some much-needed punch to their top six and a sorely missed goalscoring threat on the power play.
Transactions
While Phil Kessel has been participating in practices with the Abbotsford crew this past week, he isn’t expected to suit up for any games soon.
Games 45 & 46 versus Calgary Wranglers
For all the attempts at positivity, we regret to inform you that this homestand is against the Calgary Wranglers, a team that has had the Abbotsford Canucks number for two straight seasons.
The best thing going for Abbotsford heading into this match-up is the lack of Dustin Wolf for the Wranglers’ lineup. Since the Flames recalled Wolf to the NHL, their AHL affiliate has posted an equally dismal 2024 record of 3-5-0-2.
The Wranglers’ power play is just as bad as Abbotsford, ranking 26th in the AHL. Meanwhile, the Canucks’ 2nd-ranked penalty kill puts the Wrangler’s lowly-ranked PK (22nd) to shame.
The more I write about this, the more I’m convinced that this might be the best chance Abbotsford has ever had at a weekend sweep!
Calgary gives up an excess of 31 shots per game while generating an excess of 31.7 for themselves. They’re a big team with a hulking blue line that has given the Canucks plenty of problems this season. On aggregate, the Canucks have been crushed at even strength, having been outscored 20 to 13 over six games.
Again, maybe the scale shifts in their favour with Wolf out of the lineup.
Maybe it doesn’t.
I don’t know.
Let’s predict something.
Week 19 Predictions 
Okay okay. For posterity. Let’s stick with the Canucks losing the first game of the series. They’ve lost the opening game of a back-to-back series seven straight times, all in 2024. The last time they opened a back-to-back series with a win was against, you guessed it, the Calgary Wranglers.
I’m going to predict an overtime loss in game one (bold, I know) and an overtime win in game two.
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