ABBOTSFORD CANUCKS AT LAVAL ROCKET SERIES PREVIEW
Laval, QC - The Abbotsford Canucks will open their 2023.24 campaign on Friday evening in Laval, Quebec as they face the Laval Rocket at Place Bell in a brief two game road trip.
Puck drop is set for Friday evening at 4:00pm PST, as well as 12:00pm PST in Saturday’s clash.
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Historically, Abbotsford has had Laval’s number, having won six of the eight all time meetings, outscoring Laval 31-21 in the process. This weekend will mark the third consecutive season that Abbotsford will open up their campaign on the road, putting up a 10-5-1 all time record against Eastern Conference opponents.
The Canucks come into their third AHL season off the heels of a second round playoff exit to the Calgary Wranglers. After sweeping the Bakersfield Condors in two games, Abbotsford lost the best-of-five series to Calgary 3-1,with all four games being decided by just one goal.
Meanwhile, the Rocket fell to the Utica Comets 2-0 in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs last year, marking a shorter post season charge than their Conference Final appearance the season before.
Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle confirmed that rookie netminder Jakub Dobes will make his professional debut on Friday, making the first start of his AHL career. Having previously played for Ohio State University for two years, Dobes will be lining up behind a defense that conceded the sixth most in the AHL last season.
Another question mark surrounding Laval is their special teams. The Rocket were one of the very best in the AHL when it came to offensive capabilities, ranking T-1st in Shorthanded Goals (13), 3rd most Powerplay Goals Scored (68) and Powerplay Opportunities (302).
However on the back end, it was a much different story. Laval registered a 75.6% Penalty Kill rate, as well as 68 Powerplay goals allowed, enough for 2nd and 4th worst in the league respectively.
As for Abbotsford, they found themselves in the middle of the pack last year on special teams, both on the man advantage and shorthanded. Apart from Powerplay Opportunities and Shorthanded Goals Allowed, which they finished inside the top 10 for both categories a season ago, Abbotsford ranked inside the middle third for all Special Teams statistics, per theahl.com
Making a return to Laval for the first time since the 2023 AHL All Star Weekend will be Christian Wolanin, who was Abbotsford’s representative in the festivities. Wolanin helped the Pacific Division on their way to winning the competition, which was just one of the accolades that the defenceman picked up last season.
He managed to pick up the AHL Player of the Week in December, and was named the league’s Most Outstanding Defenceman in April after leading all defencemen in points (55), despite playing 12 fewer games than second place Lucas Carlsson of Charlotte.
Following the series in Laval, Abbotsford will return home for a four game home stand, featuring pairs of games against the Calgary Wranglers and the Colorado Eagles. The Canucks will look to exact revenge on Calgary on their Home Opening Weekend on October 20th and 21st, before hosting Colorado on October 24th and 25th.
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