GAMEDAY RECAP: Rough return for DiPietro and the Canucks in first of four-game homestand versus the Condors

Happy New Year to all you Harvesters out there!

Tonight, it’s a new dawn, a new day, a new life for the Abbotsford Canucks as they say peace out to their mildly disappointing 2021 and attempt to live up to their pre-season expectations in 2022!

2021 Stats

AHL Pacific Division Standings on 12/31/2021

The Junior Canucks finished 2021 with pretty average results but surprisingly above-average special teams!

  • 17th in League by points-earning-percentage (PTS%)
  • 19th in total goals scored (67 / 68 including the team’s lone shootout win)
    • The Canucks finished 2021 with a +4 goal differential
  • 15th in goals scored per game (3.09)
  • 9th best powerplay
  • 16th ranked penalty kill
Abbotsford Canucks 2021 Goaltending Summary
  • Goaltending was a clear problem for Abbotsford this season. Michael DiPietro took until his final start to get above a 0.900 save percentage. At 5v5, he’s sporting the worst save percentage among the Canucks goaltending trio.
    • Fortunately, DiPietro has been a stud for the Canucks while shorthanded, rocking a stellar 0.918 save percentage. Spencer Martin and Arturs Silovs have been absolute sieves on the Canucks PK.
2021-22 Abbotsford Canucks: CORSI FOR % Thru first 22 GP
  • The Junior Canucks were a bit unlucky to start the season. Despite out-attempting opponents (or breaking even) in six of their first ten games, they only picked up wins in four of those games.
    • Only two of those wins came in regulation time!
    • The Canucks didn’t pick up their third regulation win until their fourteenth game!
  • Overall, they were out-attempted in twelve of twenty-two games at 5v5.

2022 and Beyond!

Owing to COVID-related postponements, the Canucks begin their 2022 campaign with a four-in-five at home against the visiting Bakersfield Condors.

They hit the road for three games in four nights four days later.

The January schedule relaxes a bit for Abbotsford slightly, as they close the month with consecutive back-to-back weekends, alternating between home and away.

TRANSACTIONS

Sheldon Rempal (snip snap snip snap)

Sheldon Rempal’s brief time on the taxi squad simply gave the Vancouver club enough bodies for practice.

I had initially wondered about the timing, as Vancouver doesn’t expect to play until the 8th, whereas Abbotsford would need Rempal for this upcoming 4-in-5.

Losing Rempal ahead of this stretch wouldn’t be catastrophic, but it would be pretty damn close to it.

Sheldon Rempal Production Chart (22GP)

He’s been good.

Sheldon Rempal Player Card Summary (First 22GP)

Very very very very very very good.

Rempal has been one of Abbotsford’s key offence drivers. Of the Canucks 287 shot attempts that occurred with Rempal on-ice at 5v5, he was directly responsible for 44.25% of them!

  • For perspective, the player with the second-highest involvement percentage is Danila Klimovich with 40%.

Rempal leads the Canucks in almost every positive statistical category.

Soooo yeah, he’d be a pretty big loss during this difficult return-to-play stretch!

Brandon Cutler and Yushiroh Hirano

Due to the Abby Canucks own COVID outbreak, the team signed two forwards to AHL PTO’s in Brandon Cutler and Yushiroh Hirano.

  • Cutler joins Abbotsford from the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, where he led the team with 27 points in 23 games played.
    • Cutler is a 22-year-old former WHL’er who spent five seasons in the dub before making his pro-debut with Utah this season.
  • Hirano joins Abbotsford from the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, where he led the team with 29 points in 25 games played.
    • Hirano is a 26-year-old journeyman who’s spent time in the Swedish J20 Superelit league, the AsiaLeague, and the USHL.
    • Hirano played one game with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2018-19, where he became the first-ever Japanese-born player to score in the AHL.

Ethan Keppen

Ethan Keppen had a rough go in his second stint with the Canucks AHL organization.

With zero points in twelve games played, Keppen to find his footing in 2021.

While not egregiously awful by any stretch, the clear lack of defensive IQ and ability to control play made this loan to the OHL a no-brainer.

Ethan Keppen Player Card Summary

In limited action, Keppen was relatively unremarkable. The closest comparison would be Zack MacEwen’s 2020-21 season with the Canucks; good wheels and energy, threw the body a lot, but generally spent his shifts chasing the puck carrier or looking late to react to plays inside the d-zone.

Keppen’s a good egg, I would have liked to see the Canucks try him out in Kalamazoo, but it’s not worth spilling ink over.

The COVID Outbreak thing

As initially reported by the Province’s Patrick Johnston and later updated by CanucksArmy’s Chris Faber, the Abbotsford Canucks schedule shuffling and game postponements have been because of a significant COVID outbreak. On New Year’s Eve, the team had only six forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie available to play. As of January 5th, the team is still not 100% COVID-free, hence the signings of Cutler and Hirano.

Returning from an 18-day layoff is one thing. Returning from an 18-day layoff that included multiple delays due to COVID is another.

With very few bodies available and a lot of hockey to play over the next five days, the Abbotsford Canucks will be in survival mode during this crucial matchup against a division opponent.

STARTING ROSTER

  • It looks like Nic Petan and Cameron Schilling are the two COVID holdovers from the holiday break.
    • Phil Di Giuseppe remains on COVID recall with Vancouver
    • Karel Plasek, Chase Wouters, and Jack Rathbone are still working their way back from IR
  • Carson Focht slides back to center after a run of games on the wings
  • Yushiroh Hirano skated in the pre-game warm-up, but it’s defenceman Alex Kannok Leipert who slots in on the fourth line with the debuting Brandon Cutler.

Tonight’s d-pairings are not very kind by 5v5 CORSI metrics.

Game 23 D-Pair CORSI Metrics

Zoinks!

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

GAME 23:

1st period:

PP1: Brubacher, Rempal, Stevens, Dries, Bailey

PP2: Lukosevicius, Lockwood, Woo, Arseneau, Klimovich

PK1: Dries, Lockwood, Sautner, Juulsen

  • DiPietro with an early save on Philip Broberg.
  • Broberg misses a pass to the blue line, allowing the Canucks to change their forward pairing.

PK2: Rempal, Stevens

PK3: Bowey, Dries, Lockwood, Juulsen

PK1: Dries, Lockwood, Juulsen, Sautner

  • Sheldon Dries picks up a rebound in the corner and skies it for a Canucks line change.

PK2: Stevens, Bailey, Stephens, Bowey

2nd period:

PP1: Rempal, Woo, Stevens, Bailey, Dries

  • GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 1-0 Condors: Bakersfield score their third shorty of the season after some pretty weak skating from Jett Woo (#22) on a two-on-one. Luke Esposito leads another shorthanded rush for Bakersfield and dishes a great pass over Bailey (#95) to Philip Kemp for the one-timer shot. DiPietro reaches high, anticipating Kemp’s shot, but he goes a little too high. The puck deflects and trickles inside the left post for the opening goal.

PP2: Bowey, Lukosevicius, Lockwood, Klimovich, Arseneau

PK1: Bailey, Stevens, Sautner, Juulsen

PK2: Dries, Lockwood,

  • A long shift for Sautner and Juulsen to start the PK before Bowey and Woo hop on the ice after a clearance.

PK3: Nielsen, Rempal, Woo, Bowey

3rd period:

  • Adam Cracknell with a breakaway chance seventeen seconds into the period.
  • Canucks are fumbling possession in the d-zone, and Rempal takes a high-sticking penalty that puts the Canucks on their fourth PK of the game.

PK1: Dries, Sautner, Juulsen, Lockwood

  • GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 4-1 Condors: Yeesh. Can’t fault anyone but the goalie on this one. Five-hole.
  • Good lord, Luke Esposito catches Focht (#19) with his head down in the neutral zone and absolutely demolishes him.
    • Focht down for some time and is cut on the play
    • Esposito gets five and a game for the hit
  • Canucks have a five-minute powerplay to work, but their powerplay has been atrocious tonight. So, I’m not expecting much.
  • Adam Cracknell tees up a shorthanded one-timer.
  • Canucks five-minute powerplay generates two shots on goal.
  • GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 5-1 CondorsMikey, bb, what is u doin? Ostap Safin circles to center ice after the Canucks lose a d-zone faceoff and slips a softie through DiPietro’s five-hole.
  • Arseneau takes a roughing penalty after trying to goad Dino Kambeitz into a fight.
    • Canucks to their sixth PK
  • GOAL – BAKERSFIELD – 6-1 Condorslol, I mean, this is just getting ridiculous at this point. Ostap Safin throws a puck into DiPietro’s crease, and it deflects off Juulsen’s (#47) stick, bounces off of Tim Schaller (yes, that Tim Schaller), and over DiPietro’s shoulder into the net.
  • The physicality ramped up significantly in this one. Canucks are generating nothing offensively, but boy, are they finishing those checks!
  • GOAL – ABBOTSFORD – 6-2 Condors: Sheldon Rempal with a pretty stellar solo effort to score shorthanded for Abbotsford. Michael Kesselring loses his footing while skating backwards through the neutral zone, and a tired Rempal (#56) capitalizes for the drive on goal.

RESULT:

Bakersfield Condors def. Abbotsford Canucks 6-2

SCORESHEET:

Game 23 Scoresheet versus Bakersfield

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Look, the Canucks were coming off of a giant 18-day layoff, a COVID outbreak, and the general lethargy that surrounds the holidays. The Condors came into tonight the fresher squad, having played twice this year already! It was reasonable to expect a rough outing, but this was bad. Like, really bad hockey from the farm team.

Bad:

  • Breakout passes
  • Puck management
  • Forechecking
  • Cycling
  • Simple passes
  • Shooting accuracy
  • Three of the six goals against

Very bad:

  • D-zone assignments
  • Two of the six goals against
  • The hit on Carson Focht

Good:

  • Brandon Cutler looked solid in his AHL debut, one of the few guys who consistently created turnovers and chances for his line at 5v5
  • Sheldon Rempal’s shorthanded goal
  • One of the goals against was a classic, “bad bounces” goal
  • Travis Green showing up in the crowd

Fingers crossed that tonight’s game shook off the cobwebs, and the team comes out with a better performance tomorrow.

Cody’s Three Stars

  1. The fans who drove in this shit weather to watch this shitty performance
  2. [information missing]
  3. Sheldon Rempal? I guess?

HM: Brandon Cutler

Next Up on the Docket

January 6th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield

January 7th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield

January 9th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield

January 10th, 2022 vs. Bakersfield

Plugs

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