Previewing Phil Di Giuseppe’s return for Abbotsford Canucks’ weekend visit against the Colorado Eagles
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
Following a dismal pair of results against the 8th-ranked San Jose Baraccuda, the Abbotsford Canucks hit the road for a weekend doubleheader against the Colorado Eagles.
The Farm kicked off their February with five consecutive victories against the likes of the San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda, and the Tucson Roadrunners. Unfortunately, following Arturs Silovs’ promotion to the big club, and the addition of Spencer Martin to the lineup, Abbotsford has fallen back on hard times, losing three of their last four in ugly, ugly fashion.
In Spencer Martin’s return to Abbotsford, the Farm gave up four goals to the Calgary Wranglers while being outshot 39-30 across all situations and 27-21 at 5v5. Despite allowing three goals against, Martin finished his AHL return with an excellent .921 save percentage. In the rematch, Martin backstopped the team to a 4-2 victory where they outshot the Wranglers 37-32 across all situations, 29-21 at 5v5. Martin finished his sophomore return with a 0.938 save percentage.
Then the Baraccuda series happened.
In Martin’s third and fourth consecutive starts, Abbotsford was outscored 11-5 despite outshooting their opponent 77-58 across all situations and 50-45 at 5v5. On special teams, Abbotsford’s power play went 1/10, while their PK went 4/8. Martin finished the series against San Jose with a 0.810 save percentage and a 5.63 goals-against-average.
After four days off, the Canucks look to shake off the cobwebs, kicking off a five-game road trip starting with a doubleheader at high altitude against the Colorado Eagles.
Typically, we’d segue into reviewing last week’s predictions. But we didn’t make any because we were preoccupied with Stanchies duty!
5v5 Scoring Leaders
5v5 On-ice goal differential
Games 52 & 53 against Colorado Eagles
The Colorado Eagles enter their doubleheader weekend riding a similar skid as the Canucks. The Avalanche affiliate is 4-4-1-1 in their last ten games, coming off back-to-back losses to the Calgary Wranglers.
Through 50 games, Colorado sits 25th in the league by total goals scored and 26th by goals scored per game while generating the 11th-most shots per game. On special teams, the Eagles hold the AHL’s 6th-worst power play and the 9th-worst penalty kill. Despite the tragic shooting percentage of 9.38%, the Eagles are thriving thanks to their tremendous defensive environment and goaltending. The Eagles concede the 9th-fewest shots per game while holding the 4th-best average save percentage in the league. Of the top ten teams that are best in the league at suppressing shots, the Eagles have the best average save percentage of the group, with Coachella Valley not far behind in 7th place.
Jonas Johansson and Justus Annunen have gone nearly 50/50 on starts and provided near-even .915, and .912 save percentages, respectively. Johansson was recently called up by the Avs, opening up a spot for former Vancouver Giant Trent Miner to make his Eagles debut just in time for the Canucks visit.
On the other side of the coin, the Abbotsford Canucks sit 5th in the league by total goals and 8th by goals scored per game while generating the 6th-most shots per game. On special teams, the Farm hosts the 14th-best power play and the 6th-worst penalty kill. The Canucks hold the 10th-highest shooting percentage in the league at 10.87% but the 10th-worst average save percentage.
The 10th-worst save percentage with the 2nd-best rate of shot suppression in the league doesn’t sound so awful when you consider that they once held the 2nd-worst average save percentage with the 2nd-best rate of shot suppression! Arturs Silovs’ glow-up before his NHL call-up helped drastically improve that save percentage stat alongside Spencer Martin’s first two games in his return. Unfortunately, Martin’s last two starts have not helped move the needle in a positive direction.
Hopefully, against a team that struggles to convert on their shots, Martin will be able to bounce back from his rough outing against San Jose as if nothing happened.
Helping the Farm’s chances are the return of Phil Di Giuseppe to the active lineup. In his 10 games prior to the call-up to Vancouver, Di Giuseppe produced 7 goals and 5 assists, with 5 of his points coming on the power play.
While the power play has leaned heavily on Christian Wolanin’s quarterbacking off the blue line, Phil Di Giuseppe’s presence along the wall as a distributor has been sorely missed on PP1 over the past several games. Since PDG’s latest cup of coffee in Vancouver, Abbotsford’s power play has run bone dry, scoring just three goals on 34 power play opportunities; 57:13 total in ice time spent on the man advantage.
Despite the club’s struggles against San Jose and Calgary, look for them to rebound with another strong 5v5 performance against a team that has historically struggled to generate offence.
Among forwards, Tristen Nielsen led Abbotsford with 5 points in 4 games against San Jose and Calgary, including 16 shots on goal. On defence, Jack Rathbone led with 2 points against a team-high 19 shots on goal, including 8 shots at 5v5. With Di Giuseppe back in the fold on PP1, expect the Canucks’ special teams to rebound in a big way.
Week 20 predictions
The altitude will be a killer, and the back-to-back starts may be a bit much for Spencer Martin. However, we expect Abbotsford to be fired up over the back-to-back losses to San Jose, fueling two hard-fought wins against Colorado this weekend.
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