10/18/19 – Utica Comets vs. Charlotte Checkers

Welcome, all to the 4th edition of the Comets Harvest! The Comets are in unprecedented territory, having won three games to start their season for the first time since, well, ever! Matter of fact, the last time the Canucks farm team rattled off three wins to start the season, their affiliate was the 2012-13 Chicago Wolves! Pretty nutty.

 

There are some similarities between the Canucks and the Comets, beyond just the win-streak, the Comets powerplay, too, has been just awful to start the year. After three games and 15 powerplay tries, the Comets have managed only one goal-for. This past Wednesday, the team gave up their first short-handed goal. Last season the Comets led the league in short-handed goals against with 19 total in 76 games.

 

But let’s not drown in the negative thinking, because this team has looked solid to start the year! It’s hard to fault a team when their speed and gritty play has led to some very exciting hockey. Particular commendations have to go to the bottom six players such as Justin Bailey, Jonah Gadjovich, and Vincent Arseneau. The fourth line has been playing hard with aggressive forechecking, which has directly led to goals-for, scoring chances, and penalty-draws to give the Comets multiple powerplay opportunities.

 

The Comets did great in a dominant victory over their archrivals, the Syracuse Crunch. I believe the Comets caught the Crunch off-guard with their speed in the transition game. Multiple times Wednesday, the Comets caught the Crunch on slow line-changes to spring forwards on breakaway opportunities.

 

To defeat the defending Calder Cup Champion Charlotte Checkers, they’ll have to maintain that same transition game to try to make it four in a row. The Checkers have been playing highly undisciplined hockey (21 penalties in just four games played) but have made up for it with a league-leading penalty kill. To offset the skill of the Checkers’ league-leading penalty kill, the Comets will need to capitalize on their powerplay opportunities if they arise.

 

I have faith that at even-strength, the Comets have the speed and the high-end skill to win. Having an effective powerplay as back-up will just be helpful in case the even-strength game doesn’t work out.

 

LW C RW
Boucher (#24) Camper (#19) Lind (#13)
Goldobin (#77) Jasek (#9) Baertschi (#47)
Bailey (#95) Perron (#27) MacEwen (#15)
Malone (#17) Hamilton (#36) Arseneau (#18)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Chatfield (#5)
Teves (#4) Blujus (#8)
G
Michael DiPietro (G)

 

Jonah Gadjovich picked up an upper-body strain during the match against Syracuse, so his status is uncertain for the weekends game. Subbing in for him is Seamus Malone, who returns after missing the entirety of training camp with an arm injury. Malone was one of the Comets lone bright spots towards the end of last season when he picked up three goals in six games before a season-ending injury to his arm.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Tyler Graovac (knee) Carter Bancks (upper body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc Mitch Eliot Dyson Stevenson

 

1st period

 

Comets in White

 

 

Score at the end of the first Period: 3-0 Comets

 

Well, that’s certainly one way to start a period! The team is displaying quite a versatile, well-balanced attack, with contributions coming from all four forward groups AND the three defensive pairings. Hard to find any faults with any play that Period. The 4-on-4, despite being pinned in their end, wasn’t even that bad, as they went on to disrupt practically all of the Checkers scoring chances. Digging the compete of this team.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd Period: 4-0 Comets

 

After getting dominated for the bulk of the second Period, leave it to Reid Boucher to come up huge on the penalty kill to regain the Comets momentum. After the short-handed goal, the Comets looked have regained their fire, returning to some heavy offensive zone pressure to close out the Period. Comets defensive work still holding solid while Michael Di Pietro has been making some clutch saves all Period to keep the Comets in this one. Next Period might be more dominance from the Comets as they’ll have the bench facing the offensive zone this time.

 

3rd Period

 

 

Final Score: 8-2 Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Carter Camper Kole Lind 5v5
1st Utica Brogan Rafferty Nikolay Goldobin Sven Baertschi 5v5
1st Utica Justin Bailey Zack MacEwen 5v5
2nd Utica Reid Boucher shg
3rd Charlotte Hunter Shinkaruk Gustav Forsling Max McCormick 5v5
3rd Utica Sven Baertschi Nikolay Goldobin Lukas Jasek 5v5
3rd Charlotte Eetu Luostarinen David Gust 5v5
3rd Utica Kole Lind Zack MacEwen Nikolay Goldobin PPG
3rd Utica Dylan Blujus Francis Perron Zack MacEwen 5v5
3rd Utica Justin Bailey Guillaume Brisebois Francis Perron 5v5

 

Takeaways

 

The Good:

 

  • Call up Goldobin. He’s got nothing to prove at the AHL level, the kids’ vision, passing, playmaking… just get him on a line with Petey and let him thrive. He has all the tools to be a fantastic compliment to Pettersson. This is two back-to-back three-assist games for Goldy, if he keeps this kind of play up I don’t see how the Canucks can justify keeping him down in the minors. Bring him up and push skill down in your lineup, don’t push them out of it.
  • It’s crazy to me that Zack MacEwen can have a three-assist game of his own, and somehow fly under the radar. He was sneaky good tonight. Pure speculation, but it looks like MacEwen spent a lot of his offseason working on his defensive game, as he has looked quite sharp in his own end to start this season. He hasn’t looked nearly as lost defending in his own end as he did last year. Liking his improvements to start the year, even if offensively, it has been a bit slow going. If he and Bailey can stick together on a line, then their speed is going to give everyone in their conference fits.
  • Kole Lind had himself another fantastic game. One goal and one assist with two shots on net, he looks so much more composed while controlling the puck. Last season he was quick to throw pucks away to nowhere and gave up a lot of Comets chances with risky low % plays. This season he’s looked poised with the puck, and honestly seems to be a better playmaker with Boucher than Kero did. Boucher is someone that Lind could definitely learn from; Lind still needs to improve his speed so that his vision and creativity can transfer to the NHL level. Otherwise, a great start for the kid after a brutal debut season last year.
  • Dylan Blujus was great tonight, as he was last night also. It sucks he has to play behind guys like Sautner, Rafferty, and Chatfield on a regular night, because honestly, I think he’s better in the offensive AND defensive zones compared to a guy like Chatfield. He has solid positioning and solid fundamentals when it comes to controlling play in his own zone. I don’t know how long Sautner will be up with the Canucks for, but I’m glad Blujus has been able to show well in his two games this season
  • Brogan Rafferty, could be a steal if he keeps improving. Plays like an NHL third pairing guy; great poise with the puck and always makes up for his errors on the ensuing play. Never has to get bailed out by his partner, always puts in the effort to make up for his mistakes. Gotta love a guy playing with tenacity and fire in both ends of the ice to establish himself.
  • Josh Teves, amazingly he didn’t end up on the scoresheet tonight despite a majority of the goals-for tonight, being a direct result of his ability to clear his zone or enter the offensive with his skating. Displayed a much better sense of when to engage and disengage tonight, that he hadn’t done so in previous games. If he can find consistency where every game looks the way it did tonight, then he too could be another steal for the Canucks.

 

The So-So:

 

  • Lukas Jasek, I think I said it in my last post that he looks uncomfortable as a center, and tonight was no different. While still sound defensively and offensively, I think his playmaking ability is better suited while playing from the wing rather than at center. He just doesn’t have the speed to play his game in the middle of the ice. I think the team also loses the benefit of having him along the wall battling for pucks, which is something he absolutely thrived in last year.
  • Olli Juolevi, I put him in the so-so range only because relative to the other defensemen tonight, I thought guys like Blujus and Rafferty outperformed him. But this isn’t me saying Juolevi played terrible, I personally think he had a great game. Was killer on the penalty kill, even if I have to keep saying, “Dude…please stop blocking shots with your knees!” He had his usual finesse as a passer on the powerplay, but his speed and ability to transition the puck up the ice with his skating is still a work in progress. Because players like Teves, Blujus and Rafferty have proven to be able to transition the puck from their own end with skating as opposed to cross-ice passes, I have to put OJ in just the so-so range for tonight. Still a great game by OJ’s standards, but still some work to do for him! I’m optimistic the guy will be clutch later in the season as he’s notoriously a slow starter in every league he’s played in.
  • MDP, yes, there are quite a few streamables of him making highlight saves, but still, he does need to tighten up on his rebound control. I think due to his youth and agility, he elects to go for the acrobatic save rather than the easy save. Which, don’t get me wrong, is fun as hell to watch, but like, that LUostarinen goal. I have no idea why MDP has to full-body hop in the air to make a glove save and then dive to his belly to attempt a stop of the rebound …It’s a bit excessive, but I’m sure the goalie coaches in Utica will help him to refine it. He’s a good goaltender in spite of the needlessly acrobatic saves, arguably could’ve been a shutout for him if he just tightened up on a few things.

 

Comets 18 Stars

  • Nikolay Goldobin
  • Everybody Else

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets are back in action tomorrow for their 3rd of a four-game home-stand, when they take on their division rivals, the Rochester Americans. Fortunately, the Amurks are without Victor Oloffsson who terrorized the Comets last season. IIRC: Olofsson picked up something like 15 points in 8 or 10 games against the Comets last year.

The Comets are looking great to start the season despite some of the early adversity they’ve faced. Their wins to start this year aren’t coming against teams like the Laval Rocket or Belleville Senators, either. They’ve been coming against legit competition, so its exciting times for the farm!

 

 

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

 

also, let me know what titles do you prefer

simplified Utica Comets (standings) vs. Opponent (opponents standings)

or a boiled down lede describing the game, like Tonights?

Cheers!

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