11/9/19 – Utica Comets vs. Binghamton Devils

Welcome, Canucks Nation, to the hungover edition of the Comets Harvest.

pre-emptive sorry for the sentence fragments. This edition took like five hours to write, and my brain is fried, haha

 

Last night, dreading having to write words about the team’s fifth straight loss, I thought it was for the best that the Comet’s and I got some alone time. The Comet’s went and played against Binghamton for the fifth time this season, while I instead played Overcooked while completely intoxicated.

 

Editors note: that game is really, really hard.

 

The time apart did both of us well, as the Comets decided to snap the streak in my absence! So let’s get into Saturday Night’s matchup and see if we can pick out some good and some bad in the team’s streak ender!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Graovac (#44) Lind (#13)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (#36) MacEwen (#15)
Bancks (#34) Jasek (#9) Perron (#27)
Arseneau (#18) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
LeBlanc (#3) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael DiPietro

 

Trent Cull proves to be one of my readers, as he elected to change nothing from his forward lines. The lone change he made was subbing out Josh Teves for defenceman Stefan LeBlanc. LeBlanc was a late addition to the Comets last season via trade with the Marlies for struggling forward Tanner MacMaster. LeBlanc was a solid stay-at-home defenseman for the Comets last season. I can only imagine that his addition into Saturday’s lineup was to get things settled down from the D, out. I like Teves, but I understand the move, the team can’t handle having five of its six defenceman joining the forwards for rushes on net.

 

According to Thomas Drance in his Utica Comets Armies, Jonah Gadjovich isn’t expected back until early December due to back spasms! Given Gadjovich’s physical playstyle, the amount of time he’s spent injured is quite concerning. He had a wicked good start to his season too, fingers crossed he recovers fully and can play out the remainder of the season unencumbered.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Reid Boucher (knee) Carter Camper (upper-body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Josh Teves Richard Bachman Seamus Malone Dylan Blujus (family matter)

 

1st period

 

Comets in their Green/White thirds

 

 

Score at the end of the First Period: 2-0 Devils

 

Score doesn’t reflect the compete level from the Comets after the first twenty minutes of play. Liked what I saw from LeBlanc and Eliot on the third pair, as well as Rafferty, as he continues to impress on the right side. Bailey and MacEwen have noticeably better chemistry. Fourth line once again appears to be dominant.

Overall, an incredibly active period, with the Devils outshooting the Comets 14-to-12. By my counts, however, the Comets finally started throwing everything they can on the net, as they out-chanced the Devils 34-to-21. That stat includes all shots, blocked and unblocked shots, and misses. I’ve been tracking this data for my Comets CORSI project which I’ve had in the works since the season started! Look for more of that data in future recaps once enough of a sample size has been put together!

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-0 Devils

 

A slightly less competitive period from the Comets, but they manage to avoid getting scored on, so I guess that’s a positive! They did register eight shots on goal to the Devils six and generally controlled the pace of play, but things did slow down heavily for them in the latter ten minutes of the period. Still really impressed with Rafferty’s game he’s having (had).

 

3rd period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 3rd period: 2-2 tie

 

The bounces finally start to go the Comets way, as the offensive pressure from all four lines finally pays off with two unanswered goals to force OT. I am definitely getting flashes of the October Comets with this gutsy performance. Love to see them battle hard and not give up after a tough first two periods. The final five minutes of the period were brutal on the team with that penalty kill.

 

Overtime

 

 

Final Score: 3-2 Utica Comets

 

Gutsy win from the Comets as they overcame some serious, late pressure from the Devils and two periods of awful puck luck to win it in overtime — great games from LeBlanc, Rafferty, MacEwen, Goldobin, Eliot, and Bailey.

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Binghamton Joe Morrow Ben Street Colton White 5v5
1st Binghamton Ben Street Joey Anderson Brett Seney ppg
3rd Utica Stefan LeBlanc Wacey Hamilton Mitch Eliot 5v5
3rd Utica Tyler Graovac Justin Bailey Brogan Rafferty 5v5
OT Utica Zack MacEwen Nikolay Goldobin Ashton Sautner 3v3

 

Takeaways

 

  • Talk about a comeback. The Comets come back from an early two-goal deficit, withstand some insane late pressure on the penalty kill in the third, to win it in overtime. A great win that hopefully leads to better performances from the team down the line
  • Wasn’t a perfect game from Stefan LeBlanc in his season debut, but when he stepped up to contribute offensively or defensively, he made it count. Like Brogan Rafferty, the timing of when to pinch is still a work in progress, but I liked his game tonight given his 12-game stint of sitting in the press box.
  • Much better game from Zack MacEwen than previous instances. Mac looked to be playing way more like we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him over the past season and a bit.
  • Beginning to wonder what Jalen Chatfield’s place on the right-side of the Comets defense. Mitch Eliot has shown to be adept in both the offensive and defensive side of the game. With LeBlanc and Teves showing they can handle PK duties in Chatfield’s absence, I have to wonder if he’ll find himself in the press-box by the time he returns. It’s certainly nice to have two guys on the right side who can actually land shots on goal from the blue line.
  • Shout out to Goldobin for looking involved everywhere tonight. Defensively he was playing way more physical. In the offensive zone, he finally stopped playing overly selfish and let chances be created off his shots-on-goal, instead of reacting to others shots-on-goal from his passing.
  • The last two losses for the Comets came because the team wasn’t throwing enough on heat on their enemy goaltenders. Tonight they were the polar opposite, that first period had the Comets throwing everything they had at Domingue to try and get themselves on the board. They may have slowed down over the final two frames, but they persevered to make it happen, so you have to appreciate it.
  • Wacey Hamilton is lucky the Comets have a dearth of centers at their disposal. Otherwise, he’d be my first pick to be in the press-box. Guy just takes the dumbest penalties constantly. If he could do anything other than skate fast and penalty kill, I wouldn’t mind, but his stick is weak on the puck, and numerous times tonight, great scoring opportunities died when the puck touched his stick. Fortunately for him, the return of Camper cant be confirmed anytime soon, so he’ll consistently find himself playing with players way above his skill ceiling.
  • Francis Perron was quite invisible tonight, really don’t remember him doing much of anything besides being on the ice for a couple powerplays. Still, think he’s best suite to center Arseneau/Stevenson.
  • Speaking of which, the Arseneau, Stevenson, and Taylor line put in work Saturday against the Devils. I think only one time did they ever not hem the Devils into their zone with pressure. Otherwise, these three were creating passing plays that would make the top-nine jealous. Justin Taylor had a glorious chance early and showed some decent speed throughout the night. For development’s sake, I’d prefer Malone back in that spot, but I appreciate that he’s instantly meshed with Arseneau and Stevenson and been effective in his role, so thoroughly.
  • On Dyson Stevenson; I think if you go back to one of my first Harvest’s of the season, I thought that Dyson Stevenson was playing like he could not hack it at the AHL level. Crazy to me that just thirteen games later, and he, alongside Arseneau, combine to be two of the team’s most dominant forwards. I’m still collecting data, but after tracking shots, both blocked, unblocked, misses, for and against, over the last thirteen games. I can confidently say that Arseneau and Dyson Stevenson are controlling play with CF% of 58% and 56%, respectively at even-strength. Even the Devils head-coach was rolling out his first-line to take faceoffs against the Comets fourth-line. The Devils first-line wasn’t enough to prevent the Comet’s fourth from establishing control in the Devils zone. Their hard-pressing, relentless physical-forecheck has proven to be problematic against every team they’ve faced this season, win or lose. That’s going to be a huge advantage for this team as the season chugs along if their fourth-line can earn them as many offensive-zone draws as they have this season. Longwinded way of saying, I’m very happy to eat my words on my thoughts on Stevenson’s ability.
  • Kole Lind continues to be a mystery player to me. Some times, he looks like a completely different player to the one he was last year. To games like tonight, where he looked weak and ineffective every time he touched the puck. For a guy with an agitator side to him, he absolutely needs to get stronger on the puck. He cannot be blowing tires every time he finds himself alone with time and space to transition the puck up ice. He looked ok, for the most part, tonight, but all of his problem areas that were glaringly obvious last season reared their heads against the Devils.
  • Juolevi only got burned twice tonight, so he had that going for him. He’s quickly being passed over on the depth chart’s by more sound defenceman on the left-side like Brisebois and Teves. I know people want to say that he’s still recovering from knee surgery. Well then somebody tell him to stop blocking shots on the PK with his bloody knees. It can’t go both ways. You can’t argue that his knees need time to recover, while he simultaneously blocks 8-12 shots a night with those very same knees.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Brogan Rafferty
  • Stefan LeBlanc
  • Zack MacEwen

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

I’ll be back at it again tomorrow afternoon when the Comets return to face off against the Syracuse Crunch at home. Syracuse is coming off a shutout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Utica dominated Syracuse in their last outing when they beat them at home in a 6-2 stomp. Not sure if this current lineup can exude that kind of dominance without the likes of Baertschi, Boucher, Camper, or Fantenberg in the lineup. Fingers crossed, however, that they show the kind of gumption that they showed off Saturday against Binghamton.

 

Again, sorry for the lateness on this one! Duty calls, and that duty…was booze and buddies.

 

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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