Will Jonathan Lekkerimäki debut in the Abbotsford Canucks’ Easter weekend series against the Colorado Eagles?

Photo credit:Cody Severtson
Cody Severtson
19 days ago
Will Jonathan Lekkerimäki play?
If that’s your only reason for tuning into the Abbotsford Canucks’ final ten games of the season, I don’t blame you.
The Abbotsford Canucks’ 2024 portion of the season has been a rollercoaster of emotions—middling highs and Mariana’s trench-like lows. The high point of this season will no doubt be the debuts of two of the Canucks’ highest-touted prospects, Lekkerimäki and Elias Pettersson.
The Farm hits the road to wrap up their season series against the Colorado Eagles, a team that the Canucks haven’t beaten since the third week of the season.
Let’s see where the team sits with less than a month remaining in the season!
Team Stats
League Stats
In terms of controlling play, the Canucks’ haven’t fluctuated much. They’re just barely outshooting their opposition on a per-game basis.
While Abbotsford generates the 12th-highest number of shots per game, its shooting percentage has cratered to middle-of-the-pack territory at 10.6%.
On the one hand, the Canucks’ platoon save percentage has risen above the league average, thanks to Nikita Tolopilo and Zach Sawchenko’s strong performances of late.
On the other, the Canucks’ inability to prevent offence has bit them time and time again. They are giving up the 15th-most shots against (30.11 per game) but have been outshot 136 to 113 at 5-on-5 over their last five games, a minus-23 shot differential. Incredibly, they are 3-2-0-0 in that span.
Division Standings
The other good news is that Abbotsford would have to suffer a collapse unlike anything we’ve seen before to miss the playoffs. They have a 13-point advantage over the Henderson Silver Knights for the final playoff spot.
Henderson, who are 2-7-0-1 in their last ten games, would have to win all nine of their remaining games to coincide with Abbotsford losing all ten of theirs or accumulating less than five points.
It’s a long shot. I won’t make any sweeping declarations about their playoff-lock status, but it would take a lot going wrong for Abbotsford to somehow lose their playoff position.
Scoring Leaders
Aatu Räty recorded nine points over his last three games.
The production blow-up leapfrogged him above Max Sasson and Sheldon Dries for fourth in team scoring.
Four of Räty’s points came at 5v5, which jumped him above Tristen Nielsen, Sheldon Dries, and John Stevens for a three-way tie for second-most among Abbotsford skaters.
Injury Report
It was a beautiful sight, folks.
After missing 26 straight games with an injury, Christian Wolanin returned to the lineup, contributing a goal and an assist to Abbotsford’s 5-2 defeat of the Manitoba Moose.
Unfortunately, Wolanin’s return from injury coincided with Cole McWard’s absence from games. Heading into this weekend, McWard is the team’s only player tentatively on IR.
Games #63 & 64 against the Colorado Eagles
The Colorado Eagles recently added 2018 6th-round draft pick Nikolai Kovalenko to their AHL ranks. Kovalenko finished a seven-year KHL career with 59 goals and 83 assists over 257 games. The 24-year-old’s final year in the K saw him finish fourth in team scoring, with 11 goals and 35 points. Kovalenko’s club, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, ended its playoff run with Kovalenko recording four assists over five games.
The Eagles didn’t really need the roster boost! They’re on a four-game point streak, and 6-3-0-1 in their last ten games with the 22nd-ranked power play and second-best penalty kill in the league.
The Eagles sit second in the AHL by shots generated per game (33.2/gp) and 14th by shots conceded (28.8/gp).
With Justus Annunen up with Colorado, the Eagles have leaned heavily on Ivan Prosvetov and Trent Miner during this recent point streak. Through his last five starts, the ex-Vancouver Giant has stopped an absurd 151 of 156 shots faced for a .967 save percentage, while Prosvetov has stopped 175 of 193 for a respectable .906 save percentage.
Zach Sawchenko, who hadn’t sniffed a game as a backup until March 6th, got some game action as a reliever and finally, as a starter last Sunday, where he backstopped the Canucks with 34 saves on 36 shots for the club’s 5-2 defeat of the Moose.
I doubt it happens, but it would be rad if the Canucks matched the debut of winger Kovalenko with Lekkerimäki.
With Vasily Podkolzin and Arshdeep Bains on recall with Vancouver, it would be great to see the Farm infusing their lineup with some offensive punch with the likes of Lekkerimäki.
The Farm has lost four straight head-to-heads against the Eagles by a combined score of 15 to 8.
If I were still doing the prediction series, I’d say the Canucks are without question going to lose game one of the series while maybe winning in regulation in the second leg of the back-to-back.
The Farm has not won the first leg of a back-to-back series since February 23rd against the last-placed San Jose Barracuda.
Through 2024, Abbotsford is 1-13-1-0 in the first leg of a back-to-back. Their lone victory against the Barracuda was a 5-4 victory via the shootout.

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