Against all odds, the freezing wind, the accumulating snow, and the glacially-paced traffic conditions, several hundred diehard fans of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate made their way to the Abbotsford Centre and were treated to an absolute barnburner!
The additions of Vasily Podkolzin and Jack Rathbone galvanized the roster as the team put together their best collective two-way performance of the season en route to a thrilling 6-3 victory!
It wasn’t just the additions of two NHL-caliber talents to the roster that made the difference. Several players put together the strongest games of their young AHL careers: Arshdeep Bains flexed his offensive muscles, looking like Danila Klimovich-lite, Will Lockwood overwhelmed the entire Bakersfield Condors lineup with his forechecking presence, Danila Klimovich showed the engagement level necessary to earn consistent middle-six minutes in the AHL, and Vasily Podkolzin looked like a cerebral middle-six NHL talent.
Heading into their Tuesday night matchup against the Bakersfield Condors, the Abbotsford Canucks were coming off two deflating losses to the Calgary Wranglers.
They hit two posts in the first period.
They lost their Captain midway through the second due to a hand injury, requiring constant line shakeups.
They gave up a three-goal lead in the first five minutes of the third period.
Despite everything working against their favour on the ice, the Abbotsford Canucks dug deep and outworked their opponent for a critical win against a Pacific Division rival.
Let’s review the action!
A mere hour before puck drop, the Vancouver Canucks recalled Phil Di Giuseppe from Abbotsford to provide spot duty as the team’s 13th forward.
The move opened up Abbotsford’s top six for Podkolzin to immediately slot into a premiere-minute role for the club.
Though the Farmies™ does not track DAWG/60, we can confirm that Vasily Podkolzin kicked off the game and his 2022-23 AHL campaign with a huge reverse hit along the boards of the offensive zone.
Let us all hope that Chris Faber’s Hyundai made it to Abbotsford in time to see this shift.
Podkolzin’s work rate stood out in the early goings of the period. Off a d-zone faceoff, Podkolzin worked to get the puck out into the neutral zone before forcing a turnover from Bakersfield’s Michael Kesselring.
Even after forcing the turnover, Podkolzin worked to slip the puck through Kesselring and to the slot for a scoring chance. Though Lane Pederson was late on the entry for the pass, it was a great play from the young Russian forward.
The first period had a bizarre rhythm that saw the Canucks’ sustained pressure inside the offensive zone broken up repeatedly by dozens of icing penalties.
The Farm’s best chance came toward the midway point, with Linus Karlsson outmuscling his check inside the offensive zone, allowing Vinny Arseneau to wrestle the puck away for a shot off the inside of the crossbar.
Whether it was the offensive zone or the d-zone, the Canucks spent much of the first period battling hard to win 50/50 pucks.
After a blind backhand giveaway by Guillaume Brisebois along the Canucks’ half-wall, Arshdeep Bains joined the ‘little things’ club with an excellent backchecking effort to clear the zone and disrupt any potential offence from the Condors.
A second giveaway from behind the Canucks goal line prompted Arturs Silovs’ best save of the period, stopping Raphael Lavoie on a point-blank shot from the net front.
While we can’t explain how or why, we can confirm that the combination of Karlsson with Arseneau worked wonders for the Farm throughout the first period.
After racing end-to-end to steal another puck, Karlsson set up Arseneau for a rebound at the net front, which prompted a near-minute run of sustained pressure in the offensive zone for Abbotsford.
After 20 minutes, Arseneau led the Canucks with three shots on goal, almost all set up through Karlsson’s work along the wall.
At one point, Arseneau started feeding off Karlsson’s energy and spun to Karlsson at the net front for a slick pass. While a bit off target, the developing chemistry was fun to watch over such a short period.
The Condors’ puck management created dozens of opportunities for the Canucks’ forward group. Danila Klimovich nearly opened the scoring off one such giveaway when Michael Kesselring handed him the puck inside the d-zone.
After receiving Kesslering’s giveaway, Klimovich cut down the left circle for a deke around Jason Demers for a wrist shot from the slot. Unfortunately for Klimovich, Condors’ netminder Ryan Fanti made his best save of the night, flashing the glove on Klimovich’s dangerous scoring chance.
Fortunately, the oft-frustrated Klimovich wasn’t deterred by the failed grade-A chance, creating another dangerous chance on his next shift.
After picking up a pass from Bains inside the neutral zone, Klim led a speedy two-on-one alongside Chase Wouter, only for his pass to roll on its edge out of Wouters’ reach.
The failed scoring chances on back-to-back shifts didn’t result in any smashed sticks or audible curse words on the broadcast, which is an excellent step in the right direction for the young Belarussian forward.
The Farm finished the period having outshot the visitors 13-7.
The second period began with more offensive zone pressure from the home team. After five minutes, the Canucks’ led with three shots to the Condors’ zero.
There was a bizarre energy in the game — likely owing to the snowstorm occurring in the lower mainland at the time — with neither team having taken a penalty after twenty-five minutes of play. Unheard of for an AHL game, especially one featuring the Condors, who came into Tuesday’s matchup as the third-most penalized team in the Pacific Division.
Nearing the midway point, Bains continued to perform well, setting up Klimovich for his third scoring chance of the game.
Three things to admire in this sequence.
- Bains curls his stick around a Bakersfield defender to chip the loose puck to Klimovich for the zone entry.
- Bains immediately runs a subtle/not-so-subtle interference to prevent a second Condors’ backcheck
- Klimovich’s stutter step before his wrist shot
With less than twelve minutes to go, John Stevens drew a tripping minor against Jason Demers to give the Canucks their first power play of the game.
PP1: Pederson, Lockwood, Rau, Wolanin, Nielsen
Canucks’ fans inside the Abbotsford Centre hoping to get a look at a Rathbone/Podkolzin/Karlsson-led power play unit were unfortunately disappointed when the first power play unit scored just 28 seconds into the man advantage.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 1-0 Canucks
Lane Pederson from Christian Wolanin and Tristen Nielsen
Wolanin’s primary assist extended his point streak to nine games.
After opening the scoring with his ninth goal as a Canuck, Pederson nearly picked up his tenth off a gorgeous setup from Vasily Podkolzin.
Three things to admire from this sequence:
- Podkolzin enters the zone on his downhill side to give Pederson the one-timer option.
- After accepting the pass, Podkolzin immediately transitions to his backhand to deke around Noah Philp.
- Podkolzin waits until the last possible second to dish a perfect pass to Pederson, who unfortunately zips the one-timer wide of the net.
For whatever reason, the Canucks inability to finish cross-ice plays kept recurring throughout the second period.
Moments after Pederson’s wide-open opportunity, the Arseneau/Karlsson/Regush line combined for a gorgeous set play that drew Ryan Fanti out of his crease, again failing to score.
Jack Rathbone had the worst shift of any Canuck around the nine-minute mark of the second when he ate a high-stick while evading pressure inside the d-zone before getting laid out by Samuel Dove-McFalls.
For “code reasons,” Dove-McFalls dropped the gloves with Captain Chase Wouters, who took exception to the hit and stepped in on Rathbone’s behalf!
Little Things Linus was up to his usual tricks, harassing Bakersfield’s Philip Kemp behind the goal line to spring a turnover for Regush.
It’s been nice to unironically talk about the “little things” of a player’s game for a change.
With five minutes left in the period, Pederson took a two-minute minor for holding that sent the Canucks to their first penalty kill.
PK1: Regush/Lockwood, Stevens, Juulsen, Brisebois
Interestingly, Regush took the faceoff draw on the first PK shift and immediately changed for Will Lockwood once the Canucks’ had cleared the zone.
PK2: Karlsson, Woo, Wolanin, Regush
After a solid shift from the Lockwood/Stevens pairing, Regush returned to the PK with Karlsson.
The Canucks lone PK of the period was excellent, holding the Condors to a single shot on Silovs.
Pederson made up for his penalty by immediately generating a scoring chance after leaving the box.
Two things to like from this shift:
- Pederson gets his stick on the puck possessor to thwart the Condors’ transition.
- Karlsson goes high flip to spring Pederson into the Condors’ zone instead of an on-the-ice pass to prevent the potential takeaway.
With 2:07 left in the period, Bakersfield’s Michael Kesselring flipped the puck over the glass off a d-zone faceoff to hand the Canucks their second power play.
PP1: Wolanin, Lockwood, Pederson, Rau, Nielsen
Again, the few fans in attendance hoping for a Rathbone/Podkolzin/Karlsson-led power play were sorely disappointed when the Canucks first power play unit struck early for the second time of the night.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 2-0 Canucks
Lane Pederson from Kyle Rau and Christian Wolanin
Two things to like from this sequence:
- They didn’t give up a shorthanded goal.
- Wolanin’s quick heads-up pass to Kyle Rau on the opposing blue line for the entry and setup for Pederson’s second of the game.
With twenty seconds left in the period, Kyle Rau doubled his points total on the evening with the Canucks’ first goal at 5v5.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 3-0 Canucks
Kyle Rau from Will Lockwood and John Stevens
Two things to like about this sequence:
- Will Lockwood walks away from the net, thinking the Canucks have already scored.
- Lockwood then returns to the side of the net to catch the loose puck and bounce a shot through Fanti and off Rau’s skate across the goal line.
After twenty minutes, the Canucks were in cruise control, having outshot the Condors 12 to four, 25 to 11 overall.
Despite being crushed in offensive zone time and shots, the Condors were not entirely down and out.
Early into the second, off an Abbotsford icing and a d-zone faceoff loss, the Condors found their first goal of the night with a seeing-eye slapshot from the point.
Bakersfield Goal: 3-1 Canucks
Michael Kesselring from Luke Esposito and Darien Kielb
Two things to not like from this sequence:
- No one from the Canucks is clearing the crease to deny the potential screen.
- Arturs Silovs is beaten despite having a clear sight of Kesselring’s release and shooting lane.
Minutes later, the Condors made it a one-goal game off a broken stick and a lapse in d-zone coverage.
Bakersfield Condors Goal: 3-2 Canucks
Seth Griffith from Carter Savoie and Michael Kesselring
Two things you hate to see in this sequence:
- Lockwood blocking a shot and having his stick broken in the process, and abandoning the play entirely for the bench
- Pederson and Brisebois, both chasing the puck-possessor into the left corner, leaving the slot wide open for Seth Griffith
It was not long before the Condors made it a three-all game on just their fourth shot of the period.
Bakersfield Condors Goal: 3-3 Tie
Ty Tullio from Seth Griffith
Four things you hate to see in that game-tying sequence:
- Arseneau plays the puck back to Brady Keeper way too slowly.
- Under pressure by Seth Griffith, Keeper flubs his exit pass up the middle, handing the puck to Griffith.
- Keeper does make a solid sprawling effort to disrupt Griffith’s possession.
- However, three Abbotsford skaters dive on Griffith, allowing Tullio to grab the loose puck for a short wrister over Silovs’ blocker side.
Fortunately, Jeremy Colliton called a timeout to reset his group, which immediately paid dividends, with Danila Klimovich scoring his second goal of the season to regain the lead for Abbotsford.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 4-3 Canucks
Danila Klimovich unassisted
Though he won’t pick up an assist on the play, Pederson should receive all the credit for his forechecking effort that forced the turnover by the Condors’ defenceman. Klimovich’s toe-drag to wait out the sprawling defenceman is too clean.
Klimovich’s goal didn’t pull the Canucks completely out of the woods, though. Less than one minute after Klim’s goal, Brady Keeper sent another weak pass behind the Canucks’ goal line for an easy steal and scoring chance for Bakersfield’s Seth Griffith.
The goalscoring madness continued throughout the third, with Vinny Arseneau scoring his second goal of the season to regain Abbotsford’s two-goal lead.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 5-3 Canucks
Vincent Arseneau from Lane Pederson and Linus Karlsson
Two things we love to see from this sequence:
- Linus Karlsson gets away with one of the most blatant interferences in full view of the referee and gets away with it.
- Lane Pederson doesn’t shoot for the hat-trick goal, instead opting to hit Arseneau on the doorstep after luring Fanti far out of his crease.
After his scrap with Dove-McFalls, Chase Wouters did not see any ice in the third period, leading to plenty of line shakeups throughout the final twenty.
Danila Klimovich continued to have a noticeably strong game on a line with Stevens and Bains, leading to the best backchecking effort in his AHL career.
Immediately after stepping onto the ice, the Condors generate a potential odd-man rush into the Canucks’ d-zone. Klimovich gets on his horse to pounce on the loose puck and send Bains back into the offensive zone for a shot attempt.
Sensing a lull in the action, Christian Wolanin took a two-minute delay of game penalty to give the Condors a late power play opportunity.
Condors head coach Colin Chaulk pulled Fanti from his net ahead of the faceoff to give the Condors an extended two-man advantage.
PK1: Stevens, Juulsen, Brisebois, Regush
The first PK unit nearly put the game to bed, with Regush and Stevens almost scoring on the empty net!
PK2: Lockwood, Pederson, Keeper, Woo
Lockwood finished his evening with one assist and four shots on net. But his most impressive stat was his DAWG/60 on his late turn on the PK.
After losing the d-zone faceoff, Lockwood immediately blocks a shot off the inside of his ankle, gets up, shakes it off, and immediately cruises around the perimeter to disrupt every potential setup opportunity from Bakersfield.
PK3: Podkolzin, Stevens, Brisebois, Juulsen
Though the Abbotsford faithful did not see Podkolzin on the power play, they did get to see him briefly on the penalty kill and out late in closeout time.
After a neutral-zone faceoff, Jack Rathbone nearly scored his first goal of the year with an empty net attempt that missed only by centimetres (inches, for our American readers).
After missing on their first seven empty-net attempts, Vasily Podkolzin, in his regular-season AHL debut, finally made it happen with 17 seconds left in the game.
Abbotsford Canucks Goal: 6-3 Canucks
Vasily Podkolzin from Noah Juulsen
Two things to like about this final sequence from a wild third period:
- Noah Juulsen picks up a primary assist by blocking a shot off the inside of his knee.
- Vasily Podkolzin’s dang smile. That dang smile…
It’s been a tough sophomore season for Podkolzin. It must have been incredibly frustrating to have picked up only three assists through 16 NHL games, only to miss the last five games as a healthy scratch.
With Phil Di Giuseppe playing “extra” duty in Vancouver, it could be a while before Podkolzin earns a second look.
Abbotsford Canucks defeat the Bakersfield Condors 6-3
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
- Lane Pederson – 2 goals and 1 assist
- Christian Wolanin – 3 assists
- Linus Karlsson – 1 assist and two shots
Honourable Mention: Danila Klimovich for the best two-way effort of his young AHL career.
Next Up on the Docket
Barring any weather delays, the Abbotsford Canucks run it back against the Condors tomorrow at 7 PM PST.