The Chicago Wolves were handed their first defeat of the season by the Abbotsford Heat on Saturday night in the second of a two-game series. The Heat knocked off the Wolves 4-1 in front of a sold out crowd of predominantly Vancouver Canucks fans.
Zack Kassian opened the scoring for the Wolves when he sniped a shot past Heat goaltender Barry Brust. It was the Heat the rest of the way as Carter Bancks, Dustin Sylvester, Sven Baertschi, and Roman Horak scored four unanswered goals. The prettiest was by Baertschi as T.J. Brodie banked the pass off the end boards and landed right on Baertschi’s stick in the right slot who subsequently wired it past Wolves goaltender Eddie Lack.
– Yann Sauve made a good pinch on Kassian’s goal to open the scoring, but the defenceman does not look close to being on the cusp of being a NHL defenceman. Sauve played on the third-pairing with Brad Hunt and is largely still a project in progress. He needs to improve his decision-making. His ill-advised pinches at the offensive blueline led to odd-man rushes and offensive forays for the Heat. Sauve’s indecision with the puck in the defensive zone also caused the puck to stay in the defensive zone longer than needed.
– It is clear Chris Tanev is trying to be a more offensive defenceman instead of a stay-home guy. He turned the puck over a few times trying to go for the offense instead of the safe play we have come to expect from him. Not necessarily a bad thing. He just needs to find a balance.
– Nathan Longpre is very fast. I think he’s going to be getting a call from Mike Gillis to talk contract once a new collective bargaining agreement is signed. Reminds me of Darren Helm with his speed and tenacity.
– Kevin Connauton looks NHL ready. He has big league size and big league skating ability. Made the right decisions with and without the puck. Connauton will be pushing for a job when the season resumes.
– Zack Kassian was being what the player he was expected to be. One has to wonder if he’s able to keep up his play through the course of a NHL season. His performance noticeably tailed off in the third period compared to the first, but the team as a whole did.
– Jordan Schroeder is strong on his skates and unafraid of the high traffic areas, but it is hard to say he made things happen out there offensively. It may be premature to say he could fill the second-line centre position for the Canucks. He may be better served playing the wing at the highest level.