What you need to know ahead of the Abbotsford/Bakersfield best-of-three series

The Vancouver Canucks might not be in the playoffs, but the same can’t be said for Abbotsford.

The team will be kicking off their Calder Cup chase on Tuesday night, facing off against the Bakersfield Condors in a best-of-three series.

It was a great end to the year for Abbotsford, who were able to rattle off wins in eight of their last 10 games, the most from any AHL club to round out the season. However, Abbotsford was unable to secure a victory in their final game, falling to the Manitoba Moose by an embarrassing score of 6-0.

Bakersfield, on the other hand, found a way to win their final regular season contest, beating the Stockton Heat by a score of 3-1.

Both teams finished the year with 84 points, but Bakersfield managed to win the tie-breaker scenario due to their number of regulation wins, finishing just above Abbotsford in the standings.

As a result, Bakersfield will host all three games in the series, which are scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday and next Monday (if needed).

Abbotsford enters this series with the upper hand, having secured victories in their last four meetings against Bakersfield, while also outscoring them by a margin of 15-6.

With Vancouver’s season officially over, Abbotsford will also receive a few familiar faces back to the roster, including Nic Petan and Sheldon Dries.

Petan finished third in team scoring with 12 goals and 32 assists in 37 games, while Dries, who was voted team MVP, finished second with 35 goals and 27 assists in 54 games.

Petan and Dries combined for 29 NHL games with the big club this season, but fortunately weren’t missed too much, as Abbotsford was able to receive strong depth scoring from players like Matt Alfaro, Jarid Lukosevicius, Justin Dowling and Chase Wouters in their absence.

Vancouver also reassigned Spencer Martin, Arturs Silovs, Will Lockwood and Vasily Podkolzin back to Abbotsford for their playoff run.

Martin was lights out in the AHL before his emergency recall to Vancouver, going 19-4-2 with a .914 SV%, 2.43 GAA and three shutouts, while Podkolzin shined in his top-six role. Although the Russian rookie never played in Abbotsford this season, they’ll still surely benefit from his size, speed and overall skill.

Abbotsford will also need blueliner Jack Rathbone to continue his impressive play.

Rathbone, whose season was riddled with injury and COVID-related issues, still managed to produce at just over a point-per-game pace, notching 40 points in 39 games. He was also named to the AHL All-Rookie Team at the conclusion of the season.

Puck drop is set for 7:00pm PST at Mechanic Banks Arena.

What are your thoughts heading into Tuesday’s contest in Bakersfield? Let us know in the comments!