10/30/19 – Utica Comets vs. Binghamton Devils

Good evening Canucks Nation. It’s time for another recap of the Utica Comets! Tonight the Comets look to close out the first month of the season with an undefeated 8-0-0-0 record!

 

The Comets opponent tonight is their North Division rivals, the Binghamton Devils. The Devils are coming off a 3-2 Overtime Victory against the formerly undefeated, Toronto Marlies. Before their upset of the Marlies, the Devils lost to the Comets by a lopsided score of five-to-one. The Comets edge their season-series with the Devils by a combined score of nine-to-four.

 

Coming out of Saturday’s shootout victory over the Bears, there were two major takeaways. The First being Michael Di Pietro’s stunning 38 save performance after an exhausting five-hour midnight bus-ride from Utica to Hershey. The second was the Comet’s complete defensive collapse throughout 65 minutes of play. It was tough to evaluate Saturday’s matchup given the previously mentioned, late-night ride into town. However, combining last Saturday’s effort with the glimpses of poor defensive play against the Devils last Friday makes for a decent cause for concern.

 

Since getting off to their hot goal-scoring streak, the Comets have gradually devolved into individual playmaking for goals, as opposed to calculated cycling and teamwork. I believe that Saturday’s game wasn’t just a blip on the radar. The Comets hemorrhaged scoring-chances against, giving concern to what this team is if the goal-scoring dries up, or comes down-to-earth.

 

The team has had three full days of rest since Saturday’s shellacking against the Bears. Even head-coach Trent Cull has acknowledge the team needing to get better defensively,

https://twitter.com/OD_Birnell/status/1188510614731268099?s=20

Like Canucks nation saw in the game against the Capitals, sometimes all the goal-scoring in the world isn’t enough to make the difference. Even with Di Pietro and McIntyre’s stellar numbers, there will come a time where their stellar goaltending isn’t enough to win games.

 

Fingers crossed this Comets club was able to shore up on some of the defensive problems they’ve had over the past several games. Possibly closing out the month undefeated would be quite the turnaround, given where this club was, at the end of last season.

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Baertschi (#47) Perron (#27) Lind (#13)
Bancks (#34) Jasek (#(9) Bailey (#95)
Arseneau (#18) Malone (#17) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Fantenberg (#7)
Teves (#4) Chatfield (#5)
G
Zane McIntyre (G)

 

Couple moves since Saturday’s game, with Adam Gaudette and Ashton Sautner getting recalled to the Canucks. Replacing Sautner on the blue-line will be defenceman, Oscar Fantenberg. Fantenberg joins the Comets on a conditioning stint after missing the first month of the season due to various illnesses and injuries. Fantenberg’s label as a “conditioning stint” actually allows the Comets to go over the veteran cap for the next seven games on the Comets schedule. Joining the Comets from Kalamazoo was Mitch Eliot, who was sent down over last weekend to get some playing time in. I think his time in the AHL is mostly practicing time with the club. I don’t see him playing over Juolevi, Brisebois, Teves, LeBlanc, barring injuries/call-ups to two of those four.

MacEwen being out with an illness means the forward lines get shaken up quite a bit. Arseneau, Perron, and Bancks looked great together, wished they just kept them together – not sure I like any of the combos in the top nine. But we’ll see what they come up with tonight!

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Tyler Graovac (knee) Zack MacEwen (illness)

 

Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc Dylan Blujus Wacey Hamilton (vet) Richard Bachman Mitch Eliot

 

1st period

 

Comets in their home Whites

 

 

Score at the end of the First Period: 0-0 Tie

 

Not exactly the most exciting period of hockey – Few of those defensive lapses once again showing up, but several members of the forward groups, Baertschi, Boucher, and Arseneau, to name a few are showing great wheels in getting to their end on the backcheck. Utica outshot the Devils eight-to-six, but it didn’t feel like they did, haha. First time this season that the Comets have been held goal-less in the first period.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd Period: 1-0 Comets

 

Not a lot to write about that period, it was pretty meandering with a lot of chasing the puck through the neutral zone and failing to set-up a cycle in the Devils end when they finally entered. Comets again outshot the Devils, this time ten-to-seven, this time it felt like no team generated any considerable offense. The Comets still lead, so I can’t really be caught complaining. The team’s chemistry looked a bit better this past period – fourth line still the only line really going at full-steam when they’re on the ice — quiet nights from Lind after 50 minutes of play.

 

3rd Period

 

 

The late pressure from the Binghamton Devils cant close the gap, as the Comets end the first month of the season undefeated. Not the most impressive game by any stretch, but can’t complain about an 8-0-0-0 start!

 

Final Score: 3-1 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
2nd Utica Francis Perron Sven Baertschi Olli Juolevi 5v5
3rd Utica Kole Lind Brogan Rafferty Francis Perron 5v5
3rd Binghamton Brett Seney Ben Street 5v5
3rd Utica Reid Boucher Evan Cormier (lol) 5v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • Well defensively speaking, it was better than Saturdays or Friday’s efforts – there were still a couple gaffe’s here and there, but again, eight-win start, you’d be hardpressed to see me whining that much about this teams ability to eke out a win
  • Tonight’s 23 save performance from McIntyre gives him an impressive 0.956 save-percentage, I’ll have to wait for the AHL to update the stat tables, but as it stands, that would be good enough for first in the league amongst qualified goalies. Another stellar goaltending performance from the Utica duo. Given Di Pietro’s incredible numbers as well, I have to wonder what this team’s plan is for Richard Bachman.
  • Brogan Rafferty had himself a bounce-back of a game. He looked solid in his end tonight while contributing well offensively on several occasions. Despite a few strange non-pass occurrences in tonight’s game, it’s quite crazy to me that the “legally blind” thing doesn’t appear to be hindering him at this level. Loved that pass from him to Lind! An absolute beauty of a pass. After his rough weekend, it was nice to see him simplify his game a bit and look terrific doing so.
  • Francis Perron had himself a terrific night on a line with Baertschi and Lind. The Perron/Baertschi combo created some fantastic scoring chances. It was just the luck of the evening that they were unable to score more. Liked what I saw between Bae and Perron, wonder what MacEwen’s return will do to the lines heading into the weekend double-header.
  • The coaching staff is going to have trouble finding a trio that works with Lukas Jasek. I think Jasek’s talents are being wasted at center. Jasek doesn’t appear to be strong enough to win faceoff battles routinely and has been relegated to mostly being an effective defensive center. The bulk of his offensive prowess last season came from his ability to win battles along the boards. Obviously, the organization sees Jasek’s playmaking ability as a boon to his move to center, but I just see zero chemistry between him and Bailey, whom the coaching staff have paired with Jasek for the majority of his starts at center. I liked the look of the Euroline, and I hope they do bring that trio back, but with the success of Perron/Baertschi, it’ll likely be a while before Jasek gets a shakeup to try and get him going in his new role.
  • Man, can the Canucks call up Jalen Chatfield and teach him how to shoot the puck? I can’t even count the number of times he wound-up for a one-timer on the blue line and just sailed it into the boards. Offense truly dies on his stick. I would see the set-plays of the forward groups culminate with the puck ending up on Chatty’s stick, and I’d be disappointed automatically, knowing the play was about to die. I don’t want to rag on the guy, because he does play the most physical of all the Comets D-men. I don’t think the Canucks have anyone that plays like him in their system. Whether they’re in the NHL or minor leagues across the world, the Canucks aren’t exactly swimming in crash-bang defensemen. But man, the guy needs to figure out the shooting and passing aspect of the game. Otherwise, I don’t see him sticking around. Look at a player like Dylan Blujus, who’s just two years older than Chatfield, but plays physical and has a proven track record of scoring at the AHL level. I’d personally much rather have Blujus on that third pairing alongside Teves, but the whole AHL-contract versus NHL-contract thing will likely keep Blujus wasted in the press box.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Zane McIntyre
  • Francis Perron
  • Brogan Rafferty

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets return this Friday when they start their weekend double-header facing off against the Atlantic Divisions, Providence Bruins. The PB’s sit 2nd in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, second only to the Hartford Wolf Pack.

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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