Photo credit:Cody Severtson
Reviewing the Abbotsford Canucks’ concerning save percentages and previewing their series against the Colorado Eagles
9 days ago
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.
Well, I got the number of losses and wins correct. But pretty much everything else I got wrong.
Lose in overtime? *buzzer sound* wrong!
Win in regulation? *ding sound* correct!
Highs-scoring affairs? *buzzer sound* wrong!
At this point, I may as well stop making the weekly predictions because I’m getting absolutely annihilated trying to predict which version of the Abbotsford Canucks is going to show up.
Last week, Jeremy Colliton acknowledged the team’s frustrating inconsistencies, “We have typically responded [in game two]. If you go back to the [six-game] homestand, it was a game like this, and then one professional game.” Speaking with media post-game, Colliton continued to say, “The problem is, you’re going to be games where you play well and lose anyway, so you can’t really afford to be giving away games, which has happened too often lately.”
With that, let’s review where the Abbotsford Canucks sit and which team we can expect Friday night when they take on the Colorado Eagles on their turf.
While the wins haven’t come their way over their last 10, two defeats in extra-time kept them afloat in the tops of the Pacific Division. Unfortunately, the team they meet this weekend is surging, having won eight of their last ten. Should they lose the first game of the series, a regulation win would be necessary in game two to avoid dropping below the Colorado Eagles in the standings.
It finally happened: Arshdeep Bains’ giant points lead became too large to fit in a graphic suitable for CanucksArmy. His 40 points are 13 higher than runner-up Linus Karlsson, who is tentatively with Abbotsford on this upcoming road trip. If Karlsson snaps back to Vancouver, then Bains will actually have a 14-point lead on the next-highest scorers, the three-way tie-fecta of Max Sasson, Vasily Podkolzin, and Aatu Räty.
Bains almost has as many primary points (5 goals and 13 first assists) at 5-on-5 as the runner-up does in total 5-on-5 points (Sasson’s 19 points total).
Unsurprisingly, Bains leads in 5v5 points per game. Only the recently called-up Cooper Walker and the injured Akito Hirose have yet to pick up a point at 5-on-5. For Hirose, he’s one of three skaters to dress for Abbotsford this season without any points in any situation, alongside the aforementioned Walker and ECHL defenceman call-up Michael Joyaux, who played four games for the team in December.
Last week wasn’t kind to the Canucks’ on-ice goal differential numbers. Just four goals were scored at 5-on-5 over the club’s last three games and eight against.
Our boots-on-the-ground reporter David Quadrelli spoke with Jeremy Colliton after the team’s 2-1 loss to the Barracuda and confirmed that both Hirose and Christian Wolanin’s injuries were classified as long-term.
Transactions (The Linus Karlsson snip-snap snip-snap corner)
Additionally, the club recalled Chad Nychuk from the Kalamazoo Wings to provide the team with an extra body on defence. The Canucks are currently running a skeleton crew of Jett Woo, Quinn Schmiemann, Alex Kannok Leipert, Cole McWard, Matt Irwin, and Nick Cicek. That’s only seven healthy bodies, including Nychuk, with Filip Johansson, Hirose, and Wolanin out with injuries.
There is a good chance that Karlsson will be recalled to Vancouver and sent back to Abbotsford another fourteen times before Friday’s action.
Games 43 & 44 @ the Colorado Eagles
On the bright side of the Abbotsford Canucks difficult 2024 run, they head into Colorado following a lengthy six-day break.
They take on a team they’ve already beaten twice this season. Picking up four out of four possible points, the Canucks outscored the Eagles 7-3 over two games back in late October.
The Eagles are one of the weaker teams in the AHL by goalscoring, having scored the 11th-fewest total goals (126) at the 12th-worst rate (3 goals per game). That’s despite generating the second-most shots per game in the league (33.6 shots per game). Their shooting percentage (8.9%) is third-lowest in the league. The Canucks, on the other hand, have scored the ninth-most goals (139) at the eighth-best rate (3.31 goals per game), and their shooting percentage (10.5%) ranks 13th-highest in the AHL!
Where Colorado has shined this season is in their defensive department. Their penalty kill ranks 8th-best (83.9%), and their power play has conceded the fewest shorthanded goals in the league, tied with the Chicago Wolves and Toronto Marlies at one apiece. Their goals-against rate ranks ninth-best in the AHL at under 2.86 goals allowed per game. Through 42 games, the Eagles have conceded the fifth-fewest shots per game (28.17) and are receiving the fifth-best save percentage (.903) from their goaltending platoon of Trent Miner, Justus Annunen, and Arvid Holm.
It couldn’t be more opposite for the Abbotsford Canucks, as we’ve covered weekly in this prediction series. Their penalty kill? FANTASTIC! Despite all of the injuries and inexperience, the Canucks’ PK still ranks 3rd-best in the AHL. Their power play <mutters under his breath> still ranks dead-last, operating at a 14.7% clip while conceding the third-most shorthanded goals (7). Abbotsford’s youth have done an admirable job outshooting their opposition on a per-game basis, but their propensity for giving up goals everywhere but 5-on-5 has been a giant concern lately. The Canucks’ are generating sixth-most shots per game (30.9 per game) and conceding a perfectly-mid 16th-fewest shots against (29.1 per game). The platoon save percentage has just not been there through 2024. League average save percentage hovers around .903, while Arturs Silovs and Nikita Tolopilo have combined for a .901 save percentage.
Ironically, at 5-on-5, both goaltenders’ overall save percentages are quite high. Everywhere else has been a glaring weakness. Against opposition 5-on-4 power plays, Silovs has a .946 save percentage, while Tolopilo has a .855 save percentage. Against opposition 5-on-3 power plays, Silovs has a .167 save percentage (not a typo), and Toloplio has a .333 save percentage. At 4-on-4, Silovs has a .800 save percentage, while Tolopilo has been lights out at 1.00.
A lot of this has to do with systems, deployment, personnel, and defensive structure. The Canucks PK thrives at 5-on-4, but a two-man advantage has been a guaranteed goal for opposing teams this season. 4-on-4 play has been of deep concern. Whether it’s defensive IQ, overly aggressive play in the offensive zone, or lackadaisical play in the neutral zone, they’re simply giving up way too much.
When attempting to nurse leads late in the game, Abbotsford really struggles against the extra attacker. Across 6-on-5 and 6-on-4 situations, Silovs has conceded six goals on 17 shots for a .647 save percentage in clutch time, while Tolopilo has conceded a single goal on 13 shots for a .923 save percentage in clutch time.
With Wolanin and Johansson officially out long-term, it’ll be on this ragtag group of inexperienced youngsters to sharpen up through the back half of the season.
Week 19 Predictions
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.
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