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!
|Baertschi (#47)||Bancks (#34)||Bailey (#95)|
|Boucher (#24)||Camper (#19)||Lind (#13)|
|Goldobin (#77)||Jasek (#9)||MacEwen (#15)|
|Gadjovich (#21)||Stevenson (#26)||Arseneau (#18)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Juolevi (#48)||Sautner (#6)|
|Teves (#4)||Chatfield (#5)|
Lines aren’t in any particular order to start just how they were in the warm-up skate.
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Seamus Malone (arm)||Francis Perron (DTD)||Tyler Graovac (knee)|
|Dylan Blujus||Wacey Hamilton||Stefan LeBlanc|
Comets in Blue
- Right off the bat, a pass to Baertschi (#47) down the left-wing gets picked off and nearly leads to a scoring chance for the Penguins
- Penalty to Kole Lind (#13) at around 1:40 into the period; Lind was attempting to retrieve a dump-in and high-sticked his check on the forecheck. Comets to the PK
- 1st PK Group: MacEwen (#15), Bailey (#95), Chatfield (#5), Sautner (#6)
- 1st PK group gets two back to back clears, forcing the Penguins to start from behind their net
- Little brew-ha-ha in front of McIntyre (G)
- MacEwen and Bailey combine for a shorthanded rush then shift off
- 2nd PK Group: Jasek (#9), Boucher (#24), Juolevi (#48), Brisebois (#55),
- 2nd group clears and we’re back to even strength for the time being
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) carries the puck into the offensive zone behind the Penguins net and attempts to set up Nikolay Goldobin (#77) out front. The pass gets poked by Penguins tendy Emil Larmi right onto Lukas Jasek’s (#9) stick who attempts to play give-and-go with Goldobin (#77), only to whiff on his one-timer attempt
- Dyson Stevenson (#26), from along the boards with a risky blind pass to center that almost leads to a huge Penguins scoring chance
- Justin Bailey (#95 with a sexy drive end-to-end as he breaks some ankles, draws a penalty and gets himself a scoring chance
- 1st powerplay group: Juolevi (#48), MacEwen (#15), Boucher (#24), Lind (#13), Goldobin (#77)
- not sure how Olli Juolevi (#48) missed this pass from Kole Lind (#13). He misses the puck and forces the Comets to reset
- Comets lose possession in the zone again, and once again the Comets are forced to reset from behind their net
- 2nd Powerplay Group: Rafferty (#25), Bailey (#95), Baertschi (#47), Camper (#19), Gadjovich (#21)
- On the powerplay, Baertschi (#47) picks up a puck from behind the net and sets up Jonah Gadjovich (#21) for a one-timer out front, but Larmi makes the pad-save
- Boucher has a giveaway at center ice leading to a three-on-two rush for the Penguins, fortunately, Kasper Bjorkqvist fans on his cross-ice pass and the Comets clear
- Lot of skating into each-other happening on the ice tonight. The perils of shaking up the lineup so early
- Fourth line not nearly as oppressive tonight, again…lack of co-ordination and chemistry throughout the lineup. Not that guys are playing outright badly, but lack of chemistry is apparent.
- Jalen Chatfield (#5) tries to set-up Reid Boucher (#24 )for the tip-in at the front of the net, Boucher gives the tendy’s pads a couple whacks, and Lind (#13) does his best to get under their skin
- Chatfield (#5) with a quick turn of the skates to break up a play from the Penguins Jordy Bellerive
- Fourth line once again out and hemorrhaging shots-against. Dyson Stevenson (#26) looks out of his depth
- Jasek (#9) leads a rush for the Comets, then hands off to Goldobin (#77) who shows good patience to then set up a crashing Ashton Sautner (#6) for a wrister attempt
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets: Right off a faceoff draw win by Carter Camper (#19), Reid Boucher (#24) picks off a puck Matt Abt’s stick and gets a quick wrister past Emil Larmi to open the scoring for the Comets
- Carter Bancks (#34) picks up a puck from the front of the Comets net, skates to center ice then springs Justin Bailey (#95) for a wraparound attempt that almost connets
- Zack MacEwen (#15) attempts a drive into the offensive zone, and the Penguins David Warsofsky takes a tripping minor to put the Comets back on the powerplay
- 1st Powerplay group stays the same
- Boucher (#24) with a one-timer off a won draw by MacEwen (#15)
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 Comets: 2 minutes after his first; Reid Boucher (#24) picks up an Olli Juolevi (# 48) rebound to sink his second of the night.
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.
- Couple lazy efforts to start the period from the Comets – Lind had himself time and space at the front of Larmi and had one of the weaker tries to score I’ve seen from him
- Gadjovich getting some long shifts this game
- Vincent Arseneau (#18) takes a tripping penalty 3 minutes into the period and the Comets are off to their second penalty kill of the night
- 1st PK Group: Bancks (#34), Bailey (#95), Chatfield ( #5), Sautner (#6),
- GOAL – WBS – 2-1 Comets: quick powerplay for the Penguins as a blast on net from the blueline by David Warsofsky goes uncontrolled by McIntyre (G), and Stefan Noesen hammers away at the loose puck to squeak it through McIntyre’s open pads to bring the Penguins within 1.
- Penguins use Andrew W.K’s “Party Hard” as a goal song, and I have to say I wish the Canucks used it
- some weird decision making here as Chatfield (#5) plays a puck up through Bailey’s (#95) skates, who then skates the puck through the middle of the ice onto 3 Penguin sticks, fortunately, the Comets get a stop in play, but just plain awkward play here
- Zack MacEwen (#15) leads a rush with Goldobin (#77), but Jasek (#9) has the puck stripped off his stick to give the Penguins a 4-on-2 the opposite way
- Vincent Arseneau attempts to lead a drive alongside Dyson Stevenson, but Stevenson is tripped up by the Penguins Matt Abt, putting the Comets on their third powerplay of the night
- powerplay group changes: Rafferty (#25), Camper (#19), Gadjovich (#21), Bailey (#95), Baertschi (#47)
- Penguins with some aggressive forechecking and Comets are forced out of the zone twice in a row to prompt a change of personnel
- Bailey ( #95) gets tripped up in his own end on the breakout attempt but no call is made, nearly a short-handed goal against off a pretty brutal non-call
- oh boy, “Comets baby what is you doin?”
- MacEwen (#15) with a bit too much pep on a drop off for Boucher (#24) leads to a 2-on-none rush for the Penguins; fortunately, McIntyre (G) comes up huge with the stop
- Comets in that same streamable have another instant giveaway forcing them to again reset behind the net… absolutely atrocious powerplay
- Comets finally get some pressure on the Penguins net when the game returns to 5-on-5.
- Kole Lind (#13) sets up Vincent Arseneau (#18) for a shot on net, but the refs do the math and find the Comets have too many men on the ice and the Comets are back on the penalty kill
- GOAL – WBS – 2-2 Tie: Comets are a fan of the short penalty-killing shifts. David Warsofsky gets a blast from the blue line and once again finds the open space under McIntyre’s pads… soft goal that I’m sure Zane wants back
- First PK was 6 seconds long, second PK was 12 seconds
- Juolevi (#48) steamrolled on his own blue line
- Josh Teves (#4) and Jalen Chatfield (#5) caught staring at the same guy and collide at center ice to give the Penguins another short -handed chance
- Rafferty (#25 )steps up in the play to pick off a bad Penguins pass and gets himself two shot attempts
- Jonah Gadjovich switches to the faceoff role on his next shift, winning a defensive zone draw and then one in the neutral zone
- Teves (#4) with a risky move in front of his own net under pressure
- Comets get a drive into the offensive zone only for Lukas Jasek to pick up a hooking minor as he pressured his check into the boards
- on the penalty kill, Nikolay Goldobin gets a shit… you read that right
- Bailey (#95) once again shows some tremendous speed for a solo drive on the Penguins net
- Gadjovich (#21) with a decent drive down the right-wing for a shot on net
- Gadjovich gets a second drive down the wing and draws an interference penalty on the Penguins Nicolas Almari. Solid shift from Gadjovich in the waning minutes of the second period.
- Goldobin (#77) sets up MacEwen (#15) at the front of the net for an easy tap-in goal, but he somehow sends it wide.
- Wow, Gadjovich (#21) finds himself behind the defense for a breakaway but gets hauled down by Penguins defenseman Matt Abt; Gadjovich gets the penalty shot chance on his birthday!
- Gadjovich gets denied by Larmi when he goes backhand on the penalty shot
- Comets get a shot from Chatfield from the blueline, but the Almari penalty winds down and time ends this 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.
- Rafferty (#25) steps up in the offensive zone to try and hold the puck in the Penguins zone, the pass has a little too much heat for Rafferty to hold it in, but I like the read he makes here
- 3 minutes into the 3rd and the Comets have spent the majority trapped in their end
- Goldobin (#77) with a wrister into the chest of Larmi off a faceoff won by MacEwen (#15)
- The Goldobin/MacEwen/Jasek line attempts a zone entry, but the puck takes a hop on its way to Jasek’s stick, putting Goldobin well offside, too bad, as he was quite open on the left-wing
- Arseneau (#18) with a huge hit at the Penguins blue line to regain the puck and maintain the zone, unfortunately, Stevenson (#26) throws it away and the scoring chance evaporates
- Lind (#13) gets slowed down by the ref along the boards, but fishes a puck out to a driving Boucher (#24), but a timely poke-check from the Penguins defense denies the offensive play
- At the end of a whistle, some brew-ha-ha’ing begins and Lind (#13) manages to bait Anthony Angello into tossing the gloves and landing a punch on Lind who declines the invitation to fight. What a troll move to put the Comets on their fifth powerplay of the night
- 1st powerplay unit gets the puck into the Penguins zone, but too many passes eventually leads to Goldobin having the puck poked off his stick; forcing the Comets to reset from their end
- GOAL – WBS – 3-2 Penguins: oh boy, Comets second powerplay unit get out-muscled in the Penguins end, leading to a clearance attempt right onto Anthony Angello’s stick as he leaves the penalty box; once again McIntyre lets in a softy five-hole making it three unanswered goals for the Penguins
- MacEwen (#15) gloves down a puck which Goldobin (#77) picks up, he then shows off some fancy feet only to get leveled along the boards
- lol, Vinny Arseneau takes exception to Angello’s hit on Goldobin and immediately comes off the bench to make a run at Angello and goad him into a fight; Angello learned his lesson about getting baited into a fight and Arseneau ends up sitting for roughing
- Things are beginning to get chippy between the two teams. After McIntyre gloves down a shot, a bit of a scrum ensues between the Comets and Sam Miletic after he takes one too many whacks on McIntyre’s pads.
- McIntyre (G) with a solid post-to-post save on the Comets penalty kill
- Even after his knee surgeries Juolevi on the pk dropping down to block one-timer blasts with his knee
- Baertschi out for a shift and gets a speedy drive into the Penguins zone, and in that moment I actually said to myself, “Oh right, Baertschi’s playing.” Not the strongest Utica debut for Baertschi so far
- GOAL – UTICA -3-3 Tie: How about some late-game heroics! This time Ashton Sautner (#6) takes a pass from Brogan Rafferty (#25) and whips down the left-wing for a pass to the front of the net, the pass goes off Baertschi’s (#47) skates and Carter Bancks (#34) is right there to poke the puck through Larami’s five-hole to tie the game at three!
- The chemistry is starting to come together. This time, Jasek (#9) and Goldobin (#77) play give-and-go again, only for Jasek’s one-timer to sail high and wide of the net
- Juolevi (#48) with a nice cross-ice feed to Bailey (#95), who tries his patented solo-drive-ending-with-a-backhand one last time in regulation
- Time winds down and by some miracle this game is going to overtime
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.
- McIntyre faces four dangerous chances in the first minute, but he holds firm
- Goldobin ( #77) with the moves for a centering feed for Guillaume Brisebois (#55) but the crowd at the front of the net prevents any chances for GBreasy
- Lind (#13) burned hard by the Penguins Matt Abt . Abt crashes the net on his drive to the net leading to a neutral zone faceoff on the reset
- Bailey (#95) with a solid poke-check to deny the Penguins a rush, in the fracas, Bailey loses his stick. Chatfield (#5) with a brutal giveaway as he attempts to set up a stickless Bailey for a breakout rush.
- Jasek (#9), Rafferty (#25) and Baertschi (#47) have a miscue on a breakout attempt from their end when the Penguins Andrew Agozzino gets left behind all alone in front of McIntyre, where he winds up for the slapshot of all slapshots to try and win it for the Pens, but McIntyre is ready for the huge stop
- GOAL – UTICA – 4-3 Comets: After 6 shots against in OT, and just getting clowned for the bulk of the game, Baertschi (#47) leads the breakout and hands off to Rafferty (#25) who drives to the goal while drawing in two of the defenders to then backhand a pass to Lukas Jasek (#9) who gets the backhander past Larmi to win it for the Comets in overtime.
Final Score: 4-3 Utica Comets
|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|
- 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