Photo credit:Cody Severtson
Previewing the slumping Abbotsford Canucks’ weekend series against the San Jose Barracuda
1 month ago
The Vancouver Canucks All-Star break couldn’t have come at a worse time.
It feels like a decade ago that the Abbotsford Canucks played hockey. The club continued their 2024 slump with a disappointing 1-0-1-1 road trip to California and limp home for a back-to-back weekend against the worst team in the Pacific Division, the San Jose Barracuda.
Vancouver and Abbotsford’s last game coming on January 27th, which was probably great news for the organization but brutal news for Canucks fans looking to fill the hockey-shaped hole in their hearts.
Fortunately, after a six-day lull in the action, Canucks hockey is back on the menu!
Let’s get into previewing this weekend’s games.
Week 16 predictions reviewThe Condors have scored 30 goals in their last seven games in January and are 6-1-0-0 in that run. Frankly, the vibes in this matchup are not great, especially with Karlsson, Friedman, and Wolanin MIA. This could be another ugly stretch of hockey for the Farm team. I’m going to stay slightly positive and predict that the Canucks will defeat the Gulls and Condors in back-to-back wins before closing the road trip on a downer with a regulation loss to the Condors
People wanted to know, “Why bother doing weekly predictions if there are no stakes when you’re wrong?”
Well, the stakes are my pride, and let me tell ya, the pride/60 is in the basement after getting most of last week’s predictions wrong.
The “vibes being off?” Check!
“Could be an ugly stretch loss?” Check! The Farm dropped two straight to the Gulls and Condors in extra time, first in the shootout against San Diego and in overtime to Bakersfield.
Unfortunately, I went with my stupid heart and optimism, predicting back-to-back wins before a loss when, in reality, the club ran back-to-back losses in extra time before picking up their only win via overtime.
Do you want to know just how bad the Canucks’ power play has been in Abbotsford? The club scored five power play goals over 18 opportunities across their recent three-game road trip, and their power play still ranks dead last in the AHL.
On the contrary, the Canucks killed off 12 of 14 penalties, which bumped their PK to third-best in the AHL!
Ya win some, ya lose some!
On the bright side to all of this 2024 losing, the Canucks are outshooting their opposition…granted, a lot of that has to do with score effects and playing from behind, but hey, until the AHL provides those stats league-wide, let’s pretend that doesn’t matter!
Through painstaking gamecenter event tracking, the Canucks have outshot their opposition 398 to 390 at 5-on-5 with the game tied.
We’re getting to a point in the season where the chasm between Arshdeep Bains’ lead as a scoring leader has become so wide that we will have to either leave him off or switch to a boring Excel table to fit the data onto CanucksArmy. His 13-point lead over second-place Sheldon Dries is the biggest gap in the AHL between teams’ first and second-leading scorers. Only the Grand Rapids Griffins’ Jonatan Berggren and Taro Hirose have a wider disparity between them as their team’s number one and number two, with 12 points separating them.
Vasily Podkolzin crept up the all-situations scoring leaderboard with five points over the weekend, while Bain and Max Sasson were not too far behind, scoring four points each over the club’s last three games. The busy scoring weekend for the youth nearly saw a five-way tie for second place in the team, scoring 25 points.
With Mark Friedman’s loan to Abbotsford having expired, his hilarious .75 5v5 points per game leave our PPG tracker. Bains and Sasson sit tied above a half-point per game pace, with Bains having the edge due to maintaining his 5v5 production over five more games than Sasson (38 to 33 GP).
The last three games in California were not kind to the club’s on-ice numbers for 5v5 goalscoring. On the whole, Abbotsford has outscored their opposition at 5-on-5 with most of their regulars in the lineup. Alex Kannok Leipert’s gaudy minus-10 goal differential at 5-on-5 does require the asterisk that the majority of action against has come with him playing off-role as a fourth-line winger or fourth-line center. Marc Gatcomb’s minus-10 differential is salvaged, if only slightly, because he’s factored in the scoring on four of the five goals scored with him on the ice at 5-on-5. Still, not ideal for a bottom-six energy player.
Games 41 & 42 versus San Jose Barracuda
Amazingly, this is the first time these Pacific Division rivals face off this season.
Like their parent club in the NHL, the Barracuda have struggled to find wins this season. Their 13 wins are second only to the Bridgeport Islanders for the fewest in the AHL. Additionally, their 21 regulation losses are tops of the Pacific Division. Despite ranking highly in total goals and goals for per game, relative to the league, their 3.73 goals against per game ranks dead last in the AHL. Their second-worst penalty kill in the AHL is playing a major factor in that, which has conceded 41 goals over 165 times spent shorthanded.
Like Abbotsford, the Barracuda are high-volume shooters, converting at a high clip (10.2%), but are getting below-average goaltending from their platoon of Eetu Makiniemi, Magnus Chrona, and Georgia Romanov. All three netminders have save percentages of .895 or lower and goals-against-averages above 3.4.
If the Canucks have tapped into something with Podkolzin as the power play triggerman—as shown by his three power play goals and four power play points this past weekend—then they could feast here this weekend.
They might head into next week, NOT dead last in the AHL by power play percentage for the first time in several weeks.
Week 17 Predictions
Given how poorly the Canucks have done lately, I’m going to curb the enthusiasm and predict that they lose one in overtime and win one in regulation in very high-scoring affairs.
Recent articles from Cody Severtson
- The Stanchies: Mikheyev’s slump, the Vasily Podkenaissance, and more in 2-1 win over Anaheim
- The Farmies: Goals from Aatu Räty and Cole McWard not enough to avoid Abbotsford’s ninth regulation loss of 2024
- Monday Mailbag: J.T. Miller’s surplus value, Canucks line optimization, an Aatu Räty update, and more