For the first time since 2017-18, the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate is heading to the Calder Cup Playoffs!
However, despite having a playoff position locked in, the Abbotsford Canucks are still on the brink of a disappointing end to their season.
The Farm’s recent nine-game winning streak (ten-game point streak) came to a violent end on Thursday in an embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Manitoba Meese.
The result was the club’s worst defeat since a 7-3 loss to the Pacific Division-leading Stockton Heat on February 3rd.
Today’s second straight regulation loss to the Meese left the Canucks’ playoff-hosting fate in Bakersfield’s hands.
Potential Pacific Division Outcomes: April 30th
With a .627 points-percentage, 84 points in 68 games played, and 30 regulation wins, the Abbotsford Canucks are on the brink of losing the right to host the opening round of the Calder Playoffs should the Bakersfield Condors defeat the Stockton Heat in regulation later this evening. If Bakersfield loses in overtime or regulation, the Canucks will retain their playoff hosting duties!
For an organization desperate for playoff revenue, losing AHL playoff revenue on the last game of the season via another team’s result would be truly Canuck-luck.
Saturday, April 30th AHL Playoff Primer
Though today’s result did not go in their favour, there were still plenty of interesting things in today’s action.
Let’s get into it before the nervous scoreboard watching begins!
The only note that matters:
➡️Get two points and fly home to Abbotsford pic.twitter.com/7Hyyvev80l
— X – Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) April 30, 2022
- Yes, Jett Woo has featured as a forward for the last nine games. Woo hasn’t impressed all that much as a defenceman this season. With Madison Bowey, Ashton Sautner, and Noah Juulsen in the lineup, Woo will be in-tough to find minutes as a defenceman during these playoffs. If Abbotsford’s forward contingent starts returning from IR, he could be in tough trying to find minutes at all.
- Defenceman Alex Kannok Leipert joined Jett Woo as a forward. He substituted for NCAA ATO Brannon McManus, who sat this afternoon as a healthy scratch despite scoring the Canucks only goal on Thursday.
The first started with a drawn-out feeling-out process in the neutral zone. Both teams traded dump-and-chase exchanges before Phil Di Giuseppe registered the game’s first shot on net, a sharp-angle shot on Manitoba netminder Mikhail Berdin.
The Moose opened up the scoring four minutes into the period after a brutal lapse in defensive coverage from Sheldon Rempal. In general, the Canucks played sleepy early in the period. Haralds Egle’s goal resulted from Manitoba simply outworking Abbotsford to gain possession and create space.
1-0 Manitoba Moose
Never a good look to have three Canucks skaters sitting idle behind the goal line with an opposing forward wide open and stationary inside the slot.
The Moose were in cruise control for the next three minutes as they dominated the Canucks with possession inside the offensive zone. The Canucks eventually established a clean cycle inside the Moose’s zone but could only muster a point-shot that tipped high over the glass. The Canucks weren’t playing with any urgency for a team with home playoff dates on the line. Yes, the Stockton Heat are a force that will most likely defeat Bakersfield later tonight. But it’s foolish to leave your playoff hosting fate in another team’s hands.
More d-zone coverage issues plagued the Canucks through the first. Even with three defencemen on the ice (Noah Juulsen, Jack Rathbone, and Jett Woo playing as a forward), the Canucks struggled to follow their assignments properly, resulting in even more high-danger scoring chances from the slot for Manitoba.
Abbotsford’s poor d-zone coverage
Michael DiPietro stood firm, facing a barrage of Manitoba shot attempts. Through the opening twenty minutes, Manitoba outshot Abbotsford eleven to four. Including Ville Heinola’s two shots in the first, he was up to ten total shots on goal over four periods of play against the Abbotsford Canucks. Yikes!
Sheldon Rempal and Justin Dowling combined for the Canucks’ second and third shots with less than four minutes remaining in the period. Rempal then took a roughing penalty after laying into rookie forward Wyatt Bongiovanni while defending the netfront.
Sheldon Rempal’s roughing penalty
PK1: John Stevens, Phil Di Giuseppe, Ashton Sautner, Noah Juulsen
The Canucks’ PK has struggled of late, dropping from 13th-best in the AHL to 18th over the last twenty games. John Stevens did his part and won the initial faceoff, but a clearing attempt by Phil Di Giuseppe deflected off a stick in the d-zone to hand the Moose another offensive-zone start.
PK2: Chase Wouters, Justin Dowling, Madison Bowey, Devante Stephens
Off the ensuing faceoff, Manitoba’s Luke Johnson fired a shot high into DiPietro’s chest, leading to an uncontrolled rebound at the side of the net. Jeff Malott picked up the loose puck for a backhander that again went uncontrolled and over to Mikey Eyssimont, who knocked the puck out of mid-air past the sprawling DiPietro.
2-0 Manitoba Moose
It wasn’t long before the Moose found themselves back inside the Canucks zone, cycling for offence. It was not a good period for Abbotsford.
With 1:18 left in the period, Chase Wouters drew a roughing minor against Declan Chisolm to hang the Canucks their first powerplay opportunity.
PP1: Jack Rathbone, Sheldon Rempal, John Stevens, Phil Di Giuseppe, Justin Dowling
Like their penalty kill, the Canucks powerplay has struggled of late. Granted, dropping from 2nd-best in the AHL to third isn’t the worst thing. The first powerplay unit managed one shot on goal before the horn signalled the end of the period.
The Canucks started the period on a good note, with Jack Rathbone drawing a hooking penalty against Nicholas Jones to give the Canucks a 29-second 5-on-3 powerplay. Unfortunately, with the two-man advantage, the Canucks couldn’t muster a shot on goal.
PP2: Matt Alfaro, Guillaume Brisebois, Madison Bowey, Brandon Cutler, Jarid Lukosevicius
To answer your questions, NO. I don’t know why Danila Klimovich is not on the powerplay. Unsurprisingly, PP2 mustered nothing in the way of shot attempts before the game returned to 5-on-5.
After the Canucks failed powerplay opportunity, the intensity ramped up, with the Canucks generating more looks off the rush. However, they were still struggling to prevent the oppressive offensive-zone cycle of the Moose.
Alexa, play Sweet Georgia Brown.
Things only got worse for the boys in green after DiPietro went FULL Campoli with a poor rim attempt to hand the Meese their third goal of the game.
3-0 Manitoba Moose
Abbotsford newcomer Marc Gatcomb tried to liven things up by attempting to drop the gloves with Jimmy Oligny, but the refs intervened before both could get their gloves completely off.
It kept getting worse for DiPietro when a lazy change and a broken stick resulted in Mikey Eyssimont’s second goal of the game from the left-wing. DiPietro was far out of position before the shot, but the Canucks laziness while attempting a long-change without possession and with one defenceman stickless cost them.
4-0 Manitoba Moose
Despite the game effectively being over after the 4-nothing goal, the Canucks rallied for a few good looks to make things interesting. Chase Wouters entered the offensive zone with speed to draw in several Manitoba defenders to open up space for two Jarid Lukosevicius chances.
Jarid Lukosevicius, trying his best
The game managed to get a bit spicy after Brandon Cutler sprung Jett Woo ahead for a breakaway opportunity. Woo was hauled down on the attempt, drawing a penalty shot opportunity!
Jett Woo breakaway opportunity
Woo’s first penalty shot attempt was certainly a penalty shot attempt!
Jett Woo’s first penalty shot attempt.
The final six minutes of the period saw both teams exchanging end-to-end rushes with very little in the way of shots on goal. Sadly, the period closed with more of the puck possession and d-zone coverage issues that plagued them throughout the first.
Canucks d-zone possession issues
Abbotsford did manage to catch up to Manitoba in shots on goal but finished two periods of play outshot seventeen to fourteen overall.
Early into the third, Chase Wouters generated the Canucks’ most dangerous chance of the game. Outworking Nick Hutchinson, Wouters set up Alex Kannok Leipert from behind the goal line with a brilliant backhand pass from the doorstep.
Wouters creating a scoring chance.
Former Moose Matt Alfaro continued to fuel the Canucks early comeback attempt with a breakaway chance setup by Sheldon Rempal.
Matt Alfaro works for the breakaway chance.
Unfortunately, Jeff Malott halted the Canucks’ momentum when he drew a tripping penalty against Noah Juulsen.
PK1: Stevens, Di Giuseppe, Brisebois, Sautner
Guillaume Brisebois did an excellent job of disrupting the Moose’s cycle to clear the zone for the Canucks’ PK.
PK2: Stephens, Bowey, Stevens, Dowling
The second PK group managed to generate a shorthanded scoring chance, effectively killing the majority of Juulsens’ tripping minor. The Canucks resumed their run of puck possession that preceded Juulsen’s penalty but struggled mightily to generate the same level of dangerous looks.
Midway through the third, Matt Alfaro drew a hooking penalty against Johnny Kovacevic to hand the Canucks their third powerplay opportunity. Unfortunately, the first powerplay group failed to generate anything. During the second powerplay unit’s turn, Brandon Cutler drew two roughing minors against Haralds Egle and Jeff Malott, giving the Canucks a 41-second 5-on-3 powerplay.
PP1: Rathbone, Di Giuseppe, Stevens, Dowling, Rempal
The Canucks’ second two-man advantage of the night ended just as poorly as the first, with the Canucks only offence being a one-timer from Jack Rathbone that sailed wide of the net and out of the zone. Back onto a regular 5-on-4 powerplay, the Canucks powerplay woes continued with Jack Rathbone clapping iron on a wide-open scoring opportunity.
Trent Cull made things interesting when he pulled DiPietro for the extra attacker with twenty seconds left during the powerplay. Once the Canucks powerplay had expired, Cull sent DiPietro back to his crease to return the game to 5-on-5.
With less than six minutes to go in the game, the Moose gain possession in the neutral zone and quickly capitalize for their fifth of the evening. Danila Klimovich nearly prevents Eyssimont’s hat-trick goal with a clearing sweep at the blue line. Unfortunately, he misses, and Eyssimont wades down the right-wing for a snapping wrister that beats DiPietro clean on his glove side. Klimovich throws his head high in the air, smashes his stick, and assuredly yells something JT Miller would be proud of in frustration.
5-0 Manitoba Moose
Jett Woo took a roughing minor shortly after the center-ice draw. Fortunately for him, Mikey Eyssimont grew tired of scoring goals and took a tripping penalty to push the game to 4-on-4.
With 3:30 left in the game, the Canucks found themselves on a 50-second powerplay opportunity. Unfortunately, DiPietro fumbled possession behind his net for the second time in the game, resulting in another goal. If you listen to the below GIF closely enough, you can hear the steam coming out of Ian Clark’s ears at Roger’s Arena!
6-0 Manitoba Moose
Mikhail Berdin secured his fourth shutout of the season, and the Abbotsford Canucks end their season with back-to-back regulation losses to a non-divisional opponent.
Indeed, an embarrassing performance from the farm.
Manitoba Moose def. Abbotsford Canucks 6-0
- The Abbotsford Canucks looked as flat as they did Thursday. Michael DiPietro did not have a good game, but half of the goals against came from poor defensive coverage by the five skaters in front of him. DiPietro has been on a rollercoaster with Abbotsford this season, and with Spencer Martin returning for playoffs, I would not be shocked if this was his last game this season. Possibly even his last in a Canucks uniform.
- Jett Woo does not move the needle enough defensively to be an AHL defenceman, and he doesn’t move the needle enough offensively to be an AHL bottom-six forward.
- The AHL schedule had the Canucks playing a non-division opponent in the Moose eight times this season! Abbotsford didn’t even play division rivals Henderson, Colorado, or Tucson that many times! Though Abbotsford had mostly handled the Meese in previous outings, getting dunked on thirteen to one in goals over two games is an ugly way to close the head-to-head record.
- Until this weekend, Abbotsford’s worst goal-differential this season was a 7-3 loss to the Pacific Division-leading Stockton Heat back on February 3rd.
- To close this recap with a bit of positivity, Jack Rathbone finished second in scoring over the team’s final twenty games played! Undrafted free agent Chase Wouters finished fifth!
- One bonus to having the Farm team closer to home was the team’s ability to prioritize signing quality depth players instead of guys who could simply drive to Utica the quickest.
- Of the remaining skaters assigned to the Abbotsford Canucks, only three did not score this season, Karel Plasek, Marc Gatcomb, and Nicolas Guay. Not bad!
CanucksArmy’s Three Stars
Honourable Mention: Me, for watching this game.
Next Up on the Docket
The Abbotsford Canucks will be patiently waiting on their Calder Playoff schedule. Tonight, they will be on scoreboard watching duty as they see if Bakersfield can wrestle hosting duty away from them.