Abbotsford Canucks vs Laval Rocket Series Preview
The Abbotsford Canucks welcome the Laval Rocket to the Abbotsford Centre for the only time this season for a pair of games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The puck drops at 7:00pm on Saturday, with the second match up being a matinee 4:00pm game.
Saturday’s game will also be the Canucks’ second annual Teddy Bear Toss game, where fans are encouraged to bring a new, tagged stuffed toy to the game and toss on the ice after the first Abbotsford Canucks goal. The game will be presented by West Coast Kids Cancer foundation benefitting Archway Toys For Tots.
This weekend concludes the season series between these two sides, with both Abbotsford and Laval picking up a victory in a pair of games in November in Quebec. Laval ended up winning the opening game 4-2, with Abbotsford ending up 3-2 winners a week later in the rematch.
A key piece to both of those fixtures was Cayden Primeau, who started in goal for the Rocket in both games. Despite starting in twelve Rocket games this year, Primeau did not travel to Abbotsford, as he is recovering from an injury suffered on November 26 against the Belleville Senators.
For Abbotsford, they will also be without goaltender Collin Delia as he was recalled to Vancouver under emergency conditions. In place of Delia, the Canucks have signed Jake Kupsky to a Professional Tryout Agreement.
Kupsky, 27, joins Abbotsford from the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL, where he leads the league’s goaltenders in save percentage (.955) and goals-against average (1.15) among netminders with seven or more games played.
The other half of Abbotsford’s goaltending tandem, Arturs Silovs, has picked up at least a point in back to back games. A 37 save performance in Calgary on November 27th helped the Canucks salvage a point by sending the game to overtime, before a sixteen save performance in Tuesday’s 6-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors.
It's tough to ignore the success that Christian Wolanin has found in the last run of games. Registering points in ten-consecutive games, that streak is a franchise record as well as joint longest this season in the AHL. Picking up 16 points (3 goals and 13 assists) in ten games, Wolanin leads Abbotsford in assists (15) and points (19) this year.
Abbotsford’s team leader in goals? That would be Lane Pederson. Sticking the puck in the back of the net nine times this year, Pederson has tallied eight times in his previous nine games. Six of those nine goals have come on the man advantage, helping Abbotsford to a top 10 powerplay in the league.
The Rocket sit one spot ahead of the Canucks in terms of the AHL’s top powerplay units. Laval’s 24.1% on the man advantage narrowly beats out Abbotsford’s 23.5%, despite both scoring 19 times.
The Canucks special teams could be seen a number of times this weekend, with Laval being tied for the fifth most time being short handed. The Rocket are amongst the bottom of the league when it comes to killing penalties however, sitting with the second-lowest penalty kill percentage at 68.2%.
Anthony Richard is the man to watch for in terms of offensive output for Laval. Richard’s 13 goals and 20 points are both good enough to lead his team, as well as tying the league lead for goals scored. Richard scored twice in the first matchup against the Canucks in November, and picked up an assist in the second game as well.
Abbotsford head coach Jeremy Colliton spoke about what he saw from Laval in their first two matchups following practice on Friday.
“They have a lot of speed. Their defence was very active, trying to create some mismatches and odd-man situations. We’ve got to make sure we’re aware of it and keep good body position.”
The puck drops at 7:00pm on Saturday night and 4:00pm on Sunday afternoon in the final matchup of the year between the two sides. All games are available to be viewed on AHLTV.
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