11/16/19 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

Never mind the darkness, we still can find a way, ’cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain. Those were the words of Axl Rose some 27 years ago. Tonight, I sit listening to the pouring rain outside of my nerd-room window, quietly clutching a photograph of Olli Juolevi’s legs. Praying to the heavens that his visit with the Canucks medical staff yields nothing serious.

 

Them’s the breaks, however, as Olli Juolevi once again is being recalled to the Canucks for medical examination. Juolevi’s injury comes just three games earlier than when he went down last season. I know a majority of Canucks nation are firmly rooted in the “he’s a bust, I knew he’d never pan out” crowd, or in the “give him time he’s still a player for this team!” crowd. But shit, seeing a prospect have two seasons derailed back-to-back like this is nothing short of devastating.

 

Yes, his speed at the AHL level this season and last were not up to par. Yes, Matthew Tkachuk is an NHL all-star. Yes, we know you wanted the Canucks to trade down and draft Charlie MacAvoy because you were sure he’d be an NHL’er.

 

Dammit, can people get off their soapboxes on twitter and say, “shit, Olli, I hope its nothing serious, and you can bounce-back this season!” Why is a loud majority of Canuck nation so invested in being happy with Juolevi’s struggles?

 

Using a 22-year-olds career-threatening injuries as a reason to prop up your “I knew it!” narrative is just in poor taste. If an exec comes out in five years, saying, “yah, Jim and John vetoed the Tkachuk pick to draft for need.” Then sure, criticize that. Until that happens, give the player they took a break. You can’t sit there and deny how derailed his development’s been due to back and knee surgeries.

 

He’s been a warrior down in Utica despite being relied on way too much by the coaching staff. It boggles the mind that the Canucks brass spent all of pre-season talking about how important Juolevis’ load-management was. To then go and give him 14 games straight of first pairing minutes at even strength, 1st unit powerplay quarterbacking duty, AND first rotation penalty-killing duty. After 14 games played, Juolevi leads the team in blocks/deflected shots. The kid laid his body on the line to prevent pucks from going in the net.

 

Direct your blame towards the coaching and management staff for overplaying the kid. Don’t blame the kid for putting everything he had into every shift to make up for what’s been an absolutely brutal period of development.

 

Now that I’m crying let’s get into tonight’s lineup as the Comets take on division rival, the Rochester Americans.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Hamilton (#36) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Jasek (#9) Lind (#13)
Arseneau (#18) Perron (#27) Bancks (#34)
Teves (#4) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Sautner (#6) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Blujus (#8) Eliot (#52)
G
Zane McIntyre

 

So Seamus Malone may have re-broke his arm that he mangled last year. Malone, if you didn’t know, missed his entire summer training due to an arm break that occurred in one of the Comets final games last season. Because Malone’s injury happened so late last night, the Comets weren’t able to get a forward up in time. Rookie defenceman, Josh Teves, instead, slides up to a fourth-line winger spot alongside Justin Taylor and Dyson Stevenson.

This bodes well for my “get Vinny Arseneau back with Francis Perron” dream. Big Vin slides in with two guys who he had shown great chemistry with earlier this season.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Carter Camper (upper-body) Seamus Malone (arm) Olli Juolevi (not the knee)

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Tanner Sorenson (technically not here)

 

1st period

 

Comets in their home Whites

 

 

The Score at the end of the 1st period: 2-1 Comets

 

An interesting period. After getting out to an early two-goal lead, the Comets seemed to slow down significantly. The slow-down allowed the Amurks to generate some considerable momentum over the final ten minutes of the frame. After allowing just one shot on goal through the first ten, the Amurks then rattled off seven through the final ten. Not sure if that was a coaching decision, or if the early outburst was the last of the team’s energy reserves after last nights’ grueling match with Syracuse?

 

2nd Period

 

 

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

 

Not exactly a riveting period, as the Comets get outshot seven to five over twenty minutes of play. Comets are looking exhausted as they continue to get out-muscled by the Amurks in their end while struggling to set-up any cycle at even-strength in the Amurks end. Goldobin and Boucher continue to be dangerous, the Amurks, however, are doing everything in their power to muscle the Comets out of high-danger scoring areas. Not sure if this is due to exhaustion, but the Comets set-ups are coming way too slow. Too often, the Comet’s players drive down the wings, hit the breaks, and then pause. After what feels like an eternity, they then wait for the entire Comets lineup to enter the zone before deciding what to do next. Speed kills! Gotta be faster boys if you want to beat the size & strength of the Rochester Americans.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 4-3 Rochester Americans

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Vincent Arseneau Francis Perron Guillaume Brisebois 5v5
1st Utica Nikolay Goldobin Reid Boucher Justin Bailey PPG
1st Rochester Zach Redmond Pascal Aquin Lawrence Pilut 5v5
2nd Rochester Andrew Oglevie Kevin Porter Brett Murray 5v5
3rd Rochester Sean Malone Eric Cornel 5v5
3rd Rochester Casey Nelson Jacob Bryson Brett Murray PPG
3rd Utica Brogan Rafferty Reid Boucher Wacey Hamilton 6v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • The size and strength of the Rochester Americans once again proves to be too much for this Comets lineup. For the second time in as many weeks, the Comets spend 60 minutes struggling to establish a cycle against the hard-hitting big-boys of the Amurks. I spoke at length after their last meeting with the Amurks that the Comets needed to be faster to set up offense against a team like Rochester. Rochester has shown time and time again that they can easily bully the Comets diminutive forwards out of high-danger scoring areas. It’s no surprise that the Comets first line was the most successful tonight, their success came from quick set-ups and faster shots. The rest of the forward group needs to take note of how to beat size and strength if they want to be effective at the AHL level. Repeatedly skating themselves into the corners to avoid hits, while praying their no-look rink-wide centering feeds work out is no way to produce at this level. Unfortunately, the Comets bottom nine spent the majority of tonight hoping that playstyle would work.
  • Boucher continues to be a force for the Comets, as he notches two assists and records ten shots on goal. When I come back and track CORSI for this one, I’m genuinely curious what his rating is going to be. Guy was a threat every shift. That kinda iffy double-minor late in the third likely prevented any significant comeback for the Comets.
  • Lukas Jasek needs to be shown tape on how to drive to the net. The kid is off-role, so I understand this will, of course, lead to confidence issues. Right now, he’s playing scared though, scared to make a mistake offensively, so he routinely takes the easy pass over the scoring play. His speed isn’t that bad either, but too often tonight, Jasek would get the puck and either pass out to the wings or dump the puck. Away from the puck, Jasek is infinitely more likely to peel off for a back-check instead of aggressively forecheck in either the neutral or offensive zone. I’m all for solid two-way play, but my numbers show that Jasek is routinely allowing his opponents to control the puck while he is on the ice. It may not always result in goals-against, but the time spent allowing opponents to control the puck is time not spent putting pucks in the net.
  • Still unsure of the choice to play McIntyre in a back-to-back. Last night, McIntyre posted a .913 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against-average after saving 21 of 23 shots-against. Tonight against Rochester, McIntyre posted an incredibly weak, .818 save percentage and a 4.20 (nice) goals-against-average after saving just 18 of 22 shots-against. MDP has been lights-out for the team this season…give the kid a start on the back-to-back. For reference, the Comet’s double-header last Friday/Saturday; Michael Di Pietro put up back to back save percentages of .935 and .933, as well as goals-against-averages of 2.04 and 1.91. MDP that weekend faced 61 shots total, McIntyre this weekend met 45. Give the kid a game in the back-to-back’s.
  • Comically, Vinny Arseneau got the Comet’s only star of the game. Apparently, ten shots and two assists don’t mean shit, haha. Arseneau ended his night, third on the team for shots-on-goal. Despite his line tapering off quite hard early, I still like the Perron/Arseneau combination. They have some strange innate chemistry. Must be the French connection or something.
  • Comets had to have been playing this one exhausted, and Trent Cull shortened his bench like crazy after the first period. Teves didn’t look good as a forward, and in general, that line was just chewing minutes for the team. Perron and the third-line were pretty invisible about halfway through the first period. Tonight was, essentially, Reid Boucher versus the Rochester Americans.
  • Brogan Rafferty had himself a decent game, he certainly didn’t have as many unforced turnovers, which was nice. He tapered back the amount of one-timer blasts from the blue line tonight, however, and was much more involved in stepping up into the rush. Case and point, that final goal of the game where he’s providing net-front presence. Overall, a solid two-way game from him tonight. Brogan was on for all three goals-for, registering one goal on four shots while being on the ice for just one of the goals-against.
  • Dylan Blujus and Ashton Sautner were relied on heavily tonight by the coaching staff. Have to think that’s because of Juolevi’s absence. Both guys were given plenty of time at even-strength and on the penalty-kill to settle things down. Sautner played a very physical game tonight and was instrumental in clearing the front of McIntyre’s net. Given how often I saw him on the ice, I was surprised to see Sautner was on the ice for just one of the goals-against. Blujus wasn’t as lucky as he wound up on the ice for two goals-against.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Brogan Rafferty
  • Nikolay Goldobin

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets get another four-day break heading into their next matchup when they face off against the Binghamton Devils for the sixth time this season.

 

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

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