10/12/19 – Utica Comets (1-0-0-0) vs. WBS Penguins (1-1-0-0)

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the Comets Harvest, bringing to you all things good and holy about the 2019-20 Utica Comets season! Sorry for the delay on this one, I had major writers block trying to write two different writeups at the same time, and then the VOD for the game took forever to upload.

 

Last week the Comets won their season opener for the first time since their 2014-15 campaign. Tonight the Comets once again hit the road for their second game of the year. Tonight they faced off against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins., the farm team of, you guessed it! The New York Rangers. I joke. Obviously, they are the affiliate of Pittsburgh; and just like their NHL team, the WBS Penguins have split their results to start the season. First, having won their season opener against the Hershey Bears last Saturday by a score of 4-3, only to lose their second match of the year last night to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms by a score of 4-1.

 

Last week, Tyler Graovac went down with a knee injury in the 3rd period, and his absence will be quite apparent to this Comets lineup. With Canuck castaways Sven Bärtschi and Nikolay Goldobin joining the ranks, the Comets find themselves once again with an overwhelming number of veteran and veteran-exempt players. Until Graovac or Seamus Malone are ready to return, the pressure will be on Trent Cull and the coaching staff to somehow put together a lineup that guarantees four decent centers, playing time for NHL caliber players, AND opportunity for playing time for the Comets numerous developing youngsters.

 

For those that are unaware, the AHL requires that, in each game, only a maximum of 6 veteran designated players be allowed to suit up for a team, with one of those 6 being a “veteran-exempt” player. Currently, the Comets have for veterans:

  • Wingers: Bärtschi, Boucher, Bancks,
  • Centers: Graovac, Hamilton, Camper,

Then for veteran-exempt players: * Wingers: Goldobin, Bailey,

 

Regardless, the lineup the coaching staff decides to deploy while the Comets center depth remains out with injuries, almost guarantees that, in the short term, one established pro is going to be spending a lot of their time with the Comets watching from the press box. Not sure if that’s a good look for the Canucks organization if, for the 2nd year in a row, a lack of developmental centers in the organization, and an over-reliance on signing veterans to pad their AHL roster once again pushes established pro-hockey players into the press box.

We’ll see tonight if the lineup-blender works in the Comets favor! So, with all that foreboding preamble out of the way, let’s get into tonight’s lineup!

 

Starting Lineup

 

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Bancks (#34) Bailey (#95)
Boucher (#24) Camper (#19) Lind (#13)
Goldobin (#77) Jasek (#9) MacEwen (#15)
Gadjovich (#21) Stevenson (#26) Arseneau (#18)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Teves (#4) Chatfield (#5)
G
McIntyre (#31)

 

Lines aren’t in any particular order to start just how they were in the warm-up skate.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Seamus Malone (arm) Francis Perron (DTD) Tyler Graovac (knee)

 

Healthy Scratches
Dylan Blujus Wacey Hamilton Stefan LeBlanc

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

Score at the end of the first period: 2-0 Comets

 

Honestly, the scoreline is a bit deceptive as the Comets weren’t too impressive defensively. There is an apparent lack of cohesion and chemistry between the four lines. The lack of chemistry is most evident with the Jasek/MacEwen/Goldobin line; while Jasek is at least successful in his own zone, there is quite clearly a lack of cohesion between the three when they are transitioning from the neutral zone into the offensive zone. Baertschi looks to have the speed and vision to succeed with the Comets, but he is noticeably absent in board battles (injury concern?). Goldobin is pretty much floating in the defensive and neutral zones. His one setup to Sautner was pretty, but he needs to show a bit more if he wants to beat any of these guys for the first callup.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-2 Tie

 

Well, it certainly wasn’t a pretty period by any stretch. The Comets looked awful on their first powerplay, then give up two incredibly soft goals on two of their three penalty kills. Surprisingly Baertschi was the most invisible that period, Jasek looked tired, Lind starting to regress to his cutesy junior style of play that didn’t cut it last season, and the defense just looks laughably out of sorts; with the exception to that being Brogan Rafferty who, of the 6 d-men playing tonight, has looked the most composed throughout two periods of play.

 

3rd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 3rd period: 3-3 Tie

 

Once again, despite being out-chanced and outshot ten to nine, the Comets force overtime off some late-game heroics from their captain Carter Bancks. Comets earning some points in a game they arguably have no business winning haha.

 

Overtime

 

Final Score: 4-3 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Reid Boucher Carter Camper 5v5
1st Utica Reid Boucher Olli Juolevi Nikolay Goldobin ppg
2nd WBS Stefan Noesen David Warsofsky Oula Palve ppg
2nd WBS David Warsofsky Andrew Agozzino Oula Palce ppg
3rd WBS Anthony Angello Jon Lizotte 5v5
3rd Utica Carter Bancks Sven Baertschi Ashton Sautner 5v5
OT Utica Lukas Jasek Brogan Rafferty Sven Baertschi 3v3

 

Takeaways

 

  • The Comets eked out a win here on the road, but the victory in draws more questions than answers regarding this team’s capabilities as a group. Outshot, out-chanced, out-everything’d really. After three periods of play, the MacEwen/Jasek/Goldobin line KIND OF came together a bit; Goldobin and Jasek, in particular, appear to have chemistry, but MacEwen just doesn’t fit the mold and seems like the odd-man-out in that dynamic.
  • Speaking of, MacEwen has had a very rough couple games with the Comets. Last season his breakout was remarkable to watch; his speed on the forecheck and backcheck were the best on the team. Tonight he had nothing about his game that set him apart from the rest of the group. I’m not too worried, as it is still just two games into the season. Just a curiosity that he’s been such a non-factor in the Comets games so far.
  • Again, prefacing this with, its just two games into the season; but I do have to comment on the play of Olli Juolevi, who outside of one nice stretch pass, looked very weak on the puck, had plodding skating, and was generally quite unnoticeable and unremarkable as a defenseman. AND YES, I’m aware he’s likely still rehabbing his knee, but regardless, my hand is beginning to hover over the “concern” button.
  • Wasn’t a fan of seeing Baertschi, or should I say, NOT seeing Baertschi much this game. Despite the 2 assist scoreline, Baertschi was largely invisible throughout the game. Would have thought the demotion to the AHL would warrant Baertschi blazing all over the ice with speed and playmaking, but he was pretty-well coasting most of the evening.
  • Rafferty is the teams best defenseman. I know the coaches and management like Chatfield because of his crash-bang style, but Rafferty, for my money’s worth, is the defensive prospect to watch for the foreseeable future. He’s so calm with the puck and consistently makes the right play over the easy play, gotta love a guy who looks like a pro out there.
  • Zane McIntyre was somehow the reason the Comets were winning and losing this game. He came up huge on I can’t even count, how many, short-handed chances, but on the penalty kill, he let in some brutal softies five-hole. Three goals against on 40 shots though is quite impressive, and given how dominant the Penguins were while maintaining the offensive, it’s a miracle the game wasn’t 8-2 for the Pens.
  • I like his game, but I’m aware he needs to be more dynamic to get notice from the Canucks staff to warrant a look. Lukas Jasek continues to impress with his two-way game at the AHL level. The transition to center hasn’t been that easy for Jasek; I thought he looked better playing between Bailey and Bancks last week than he did between MacEwen and Goldobin. I think Jasek needs someone playing with speed, and since MacEwen isn’t bringing that to start the season, it’s hard for Jasek to utilize his vision and passing game. He and Goldobin did look good together though; if they keep those two together, I can see the kind of success they could have. That would require Goldobin playing with a bit more gusto however.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Brogan Rafferty
  • Lukas Jasek

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets return next Wednesday for their home opener as they take on the Syracuse Crunch for their first of a 12 games series this season. The Crunch are 2w-0l-1otl-1sol to start their season, having beat the Cleveland Monsters 6-3 this Saturday The Comets, jumbled roster and all, managed to pick up two points again on the road. Hopefully, one of Graovac or Malone is ready to return to the lineup by the time Wednesday rolls around, but if not, the lineup blender somehow pulled a rabbit out of the hat tonight here in Wilkes-Barre, and just maybe it’ll work out again in front of the Comets faithful at home.

 

As always, if you want to read up on this Comets Harvest or the 2018-19 Farmies editions, you can find them all at my Comets Harvest Blog here

 

If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

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