GAMEDAY HARVEST: As the Abbotsford Canucks win, their city is unsure how it should react

Tonight marks an emotional return to the Abbotsford Centre for the Abbotsford Canucks.

In addition to this game being their first back at home since mass-flooding displaced thousands in the Fraser Valley region, tonight’s game is the team’s first-ever Hockey Fights Cancer night.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out their “who we fight for” video.

Just make sure you don’t watch it while cutting onions… Because that’s totally what got me, nothing else…

The Abbotsford Canucks look to turn the page on a particularly brutal chapter in their franchise’s young history with emotions running high off-ice.

Beyond the torrential rain that uprooted several players from their homes or the minor shuffle to the team’s schedule; the Canucks November could not have gone worse from an on-ice perspective:

  • Three points out of a possible twelve
  • One regulation win surrounded by matching three-game losing streaks
  • Injuries to Jack Rathbone and Karel Plasek
  • Four powerplay goals on twenty-seven attempts (would be third-worst pp% in the AHL)

Attempting to turn the page on the November rain won’t be easy either, given their opponent tonight, the, um, er, Ontario Reign, is operating as one of the AHL’s top teams.

The non-atmospheric Reign have won eight of their last ten games and hold a stellar 5-1-0-0 record on the road.

Their powerplay is ranked second in the AHL. But, as a consolation, their PK is second-worst in the league.

Probably so they can get back to dominating at 5v5 and on the powerplay. 5D chess baybee!

2021-22 Season: Abbotsford Canucks vs Ontario Reign (head-to-head)

Surprisingly, however, this Abbotsford Canucks squad has picked up 36% of their points this season against those same Pacific Division-leading Ontario Reign!

I mean, they still lost three of their four games, haha. But grabbing points in three of four games against a legitimate powerhouse can pay dividends down the road if they find a way to beat the Barracuda’s, Heat’s, and Silver Knight’s of the Western Conference!

  • Complete side note: the New-Utica Comets, the Nütica Comets, if you will, are leading the AHL with a staggering 0.938 points-percentage and a ridiculous +32 goal differential.

The visiting Ontario Reign are not far off from the Nütica Comets either; they currently lead the Western Conference with a 0.821 points-percentage and the highest goals-for per game in the league.

The Abbotsford Canucks, uh… well, they don’t lead the league in any category. But they play in BC, and that’s pretty gosh darn neat!

THE OPPOSITION

https://twitter.com/ShafReign/status/1465878381547823106?s=20

  • Don’t look now, but Tyler Madden has eight points in fourteen games played while recording 27 shots on goal.
    • In four games against Abbotsford, Madden has scored twice against twenty-two individual shot attempts.
    • Madden’s production and shots on goal would put him fourth-highest on the Abbotsford Canucks in both categories.
    • FWIW: In the few games I’ve watched of Ontario’s, I’ve felt that Madden’s point totals are not reflective of the quality of work he puts in at either end of the ice

STARTING ROSTER

https://twitter.com/abbycanucks/status/1465878484375334917?s=20

  • Canucks opting to go with eleven* forwards and seven defencemen while staring down the barrel of a single victory in November is certainly bold.
    • I also wonder if the seven d is compensatory in the case that Rathbone’s injury flares up mid-game?
    • Or, the Abby Canucks think that having seven D gives them better options at evens?
  • The decision to go with Arseneau and Wouters as the spare forwards instead of Carson Focht is quite telling.
  • I am so very happy that they didn’t make Devante Stephens and Chase Wouters the spare forwards.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 14:

1st period:

PP2: Schilling, Klimovich, Dries, Lockwood, Di Giuseppe

  • A whole lot of nothing for the first powerplay group; Cull subs off Dries, Lockwood and Klimovich

PP2.1: Bailey, Stevens, Rempal, Schilling, Di Giuseppe

PP1: Bailey, Rathbone, Petan, Stevens, Di Giuseppe

  • Canucks lose the zone off the faceoff, then Nic Petan catches a rut on a zone-entry attempt that put’s the Canucks offside.

PP2: Schilling, Dries, Arseneau, Lockwood, Di Giuseppe

  • More nothing from the Canucks re-jigged powerplay units
    • Cull throws out the original PP1 for an offensive zone faceoff after PP2 generates nothing
  • Powerplay expires then, in true Canucks fashion, they take a bench minor for too many men.

PK1: Lockwood, Wouters, Juulsen, Sautner

PK2: Stevens, Di Giuseppe, Bowey, Brisebois

  • PK2 easily clears the zone; nothing happening on the Ontario powerplay after one minute on the man-advantage

PK3: Bailey, Dries

2nd period:

  • Chase Wouters called for hooking twenty seconds into the second period.
    • Canucks to their second penalty kill of the game.

PK1: Sautner, Juulsen, Lockwood, Stevens

PK2: Di Giuseppe, Petan, Brisebois, Bowey

PK3: Bailey, Dries

PK1: Wouters, Sautner, Juulsen, Stevens

  • Wouters wins the faceoff back to Juulsen, who plays the puck over to Stevens for the clear.

PK2: Bailey, Di Giuseppe,

  • Will Lockwood draws a tripping penalty against Adam Johnson to immediately put the Canucks on the powerplay off the ensuing faceoff.

PP1: Rempal, Petan, Rathbone, Bailey, Stevens

  • Canucks powerplay loses the offensive zone after a cycle around the boards escapes the zone.
  • Rempal misses a board-and-out, slams his stick in frustration, and the Canucks 1st powerplay unit changes.

PP2: Klimovich, Schilling, Di Giuseppe, Lockwood, Dries

PK1: Stevens, Wouters, Bowey, Woo

3rd period:

PK1: Wouters, Stevens, Sautner, Juulsen

PP1: Rathbone, Bailey, Stevens, Petan, Rempal

PP1: Dries, Rathbone, Rempal, Petan, Di Giuseppe

RESULT:

Abbotsford Canucks def. Ontario Reign 3-2

SCORESHEET:

Game 14 Scoresheet versus Ontario

TAKEAWAYS:

  • The Abby Canucks end their losing streak on the backs of strong goaltending from Mikey DiPietro and a stellar performance from the team’s penalty kill as they successfully go 5/5 on the night.
  • The decision to go 11F/7D paid off. It felt like the Reign’s coaching staff struggled in the first period adapting to the sheer volume of line combinations that Cull was throwing out.
  • I particularly liked that Arseneau, Stevens, and Wouters trio. They were dominant in the offensive zone and I feel like Arseneau stepped up his defensive game because he was playing with two effective defensive role-players in Stevens/Wouters. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Arseneau sell out for shot-blocks in three years of watching this Canucks AHL team. Two in one game had to be from the elevated responsibility. Arseneau came to play tonight and he did not look out of place in the minutes he was given.
  • He didn’t end up on the scoresheet, but we have to respect Will Lockwood’s efforts tonight. I still worry that his forced puck management and breakout passes to nowhere could be the deciding factor that prevents him from sticking at the NHL level. But, boy it sure would be nice to see someone with his skating and his work rate on this miserable NHL Canucks roster.
  • DiPietro was huge for the team tonight. That shorthanded save on the Canucks 5-on-3 could have been the difference between two points or none at all. In the final period, the Reign were pressing hard, outshooting the Canucks ten to six in the third.
    • Worth noting that the Reign were without Sean Durzi. a major player for the Reign’s powerplay.
  • I doubt anything will come of it, but the league should take a look at Sutter’s late elbow on DiPietro.
  • It was a tough game for Danila Klimovich. On-ice for the late goal-against by Alex Turcotte after having been benched for the majority of the third period. He’s still young, so a benching here and there won’t hurt him too badly. Klim’s puck management was a bit of an issue tonight as he gave up several crucial turnovers on the team’s powerplay and at 5v5. Again, he’s a wee child. I’ve liked the improvements to his two-way play and I thought he had some good reads tonight against an agile team in Ontario.
  • I thought this was one of Jett Woo’s better performances. His shot still needs work. But I liked his in-zone coverage tonight; had some key stick tie-ups in front of the net that prevented several goals-against.
  • Justin Bailey has speed, but he hasn’t looked great since returning to Abbotsford if I’m being honest.

https://twitter.com/ChrisFaber39/status/1465929024677449728?s=20

Cody’s Three Stars

  1. Phil Di Giuseppe
  2. Sheldon Rempal
  3. Michael DiPietro

HM: Will Lockwood, Nic Petan, and Vinny Arseneau

Next Up on the Docket

The Junior Canucks are back at it again tomorrow night when they rematch the Ontario Reign.

Plugs

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