11/30/19 – Utica Comets vs. Toronto Marlies

Good Afternoon Canuck Nation, it’s time for another weekend double-header on the road. Today (and tomorrow) the Comets faceoff against North Division-leading, Toronto Marlies.

 

The Marlies haven’t missed a beat since losing Sheldon Keefe to call-up. Since November 20th, the Marlies have rattled off four-straight wins, on top of the existing three-game win streak they had while Keefe was behind the bench. *busts out calculator* that’s SEVEN wins straight!

 

This weekend marks the Marlies first of four triple-header weekends that they’ll have to endure this season. By comparison, the Comets have just one triple-header on the docket this season. Last year, the Comets had five triple-header weekends.

 

I semi got my wish last Wednesday when I’d hoped the Marlies would come into this Saturday’s matchup, tired from their road game against Rochester. While the Marlies won, it was still an overtime game that didn’t end until 9:36 pm last night. Maybe they hit a lil’ traffic on the way home, ensuring a late return home before today’s afternoon action!

 

What I’m getting at is the Comets will need every advantage they can get to come away from this weekend with any points whatsoever. This past Wednesday’s game against the Syracuse Crunch was easily the Comet’s best-composed effort to-date. The D-corps were playing responsibly, the forward groups were aggressive on pucks in the neutral zone, and they didn’t allow their opponents 50+ odd-man-rushes against during the game.

 

Comets will need to repeat Wednesday’s effort and will need Mikey DP to stay on top of his game.

 

All that preamble out of the way lets take a look at the starting lineup and see what if any changes got made to Wednesday’s winning combination.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Malone (#17) Boucher (#24)
Roussel (#62) Camper (#19) Lind (#13)
Gadjovich (#21) Perron (#27) Bailey (#95)
Bancks (#34) Jasek (#9) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Sautner (#6) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Blujus (#8) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

It looks like the only change to Saturday’s lineup is the substitution of Lukas Jasek back into the lineup after missing Wednesday’s action due to injury. Tanner Sorenson was good, but in previous instances, Bancks and Jasek have been a formidable offense-denial line; tonight could be a good defensive effort from the Comets bottom-six.

Also surprising is Michael Di Pietro getting the first start on the weekend. Thought maybe Cull would put his star goaltender in the closer position, as he’s shined for this team in those weekend closing efforts.

In three games as the closer for weekend double-headers this season, Di Pietro is undefeated with one win, one OT win, and one SO win. During those three closing games, MDP has an incredible 107 saves on 112 shots against, good for a 0.955 save %, and a 1.60 goals-against-average. Fingers crossed, he has a solid showing against a tough Marlies lineup while they’re marginally fresher.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Olli Juolevi (not the knee) Vincent Arseneau Wacey Hamilton

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Josh Teves Justin Taylor Tanner Sorenson

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 2-1 Marlies

 

Not the worst period I’ve seen from the Comets, they certainly had their chances throughout the first, but let the Marlies set up passing plays way too often in their end. Marlies outshot the Comets thirteen to eight over the opening twenty. Boucher, Lind, Roussel, and Camper are looking dynamic whenever they’re on the ice. I think Boucher might be one of the few Comets players who nearly manages a positive CORSI while on the penalty kill.

 

2nd Period

 

 

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

 

A gutsy effort in the second period from the boys in blue, as they close out the second period having killed off six straight minutes of shorthanded time. Amazingly, despite the extended powerplay time for the Marlies, the Comets held them to just five shots total, according to the AHL game-center. That shot-total might change when I do my tracking comb-through later. Nonetheless, impressive period from the Comets penalty-killers on that one, even if there were a couple, “yikes moments” sprinkled throughout the PK. Before that, Kole Lind and his linemates were looking sharp in creating offense. Defense is regressing to those earlier tendencies that were giving their opponents multiple shorthanded opportunities. Fortunately, the Marlies passing has not been sharp tonight.

 

3rd period

 

 

Gutsy effort by the Comets to come back from two one-goal deficits, and to tie it up late with an even-strength goal. Great effort from the team in the third period as they dominated the Marlies with possession. Shots in the final frame favored the Comets eight to six.

 

Final Score: 4-3 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st TOR Tanner MacMaster Pontus Aberg Egor Korshkov 5v5
1st UTI Sven Baertschi Kole Lind Reid Boucher PPG
1st TOR Kenny Agostino Jeremy Bracco Rasmus Sandin PPG
2nd UTI Justin Bailey Sven Baertschi Brogan Rafferty PPG
3rd UTI Kole Lind Carter Camper Antoine Roussel 5v5
3rd TOR Darren Archibald Tim Liljegren Nicholas Baptiste PPG
3rd UTI Reid Boucher Guillaume Brisebois Brogan Rafferty 5v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • Kole Lind had an incredible game, one goal and one assist with two shots on net. Doesn’t account for his compete level throughout the game as he was constantly creating chances for his line in the offensive zone. It’s pretty crazy to say it, but, on a line with an 8-year veteran in Carter Camper, and a literal NHL’er in Antoine Roussel, that Lind was far-and-away the most dangerous of the three. The Lindenaiisance has come upon us. Really liking his progression this season, isn’t the passenger he was last season, he’s a fantastic drive of offense and has an underrated defensive game to boot.
  • Roussel, we hardly knew ye. Even though it was just a conditioning stint, I really enjoyed seeing him play with Lind. Their chemistry gave me hope for the future that Lind might one day get a chance to reunite with him. Even if it’s only for a preseason game, or in a mean-nothing game to close out a lost season (not that that will happen, given the Canucks impending seven straight cup wins). I think Lind could model his game off of Roussel’s, a bit of a shit-disturber who can agitate, make plays, and score. Size and strength might hold him back, but the Canucks have his rights until the end of the next season when he becomes an RFA.
  • MDP had himself an “okay” game, he needs to stop sprawling to his belly on every big save, because if he doesn’t control that rebound well-enough, then he is susceptible to secondary scoring chances. Being a smaller guy, he has to play off his post, further than most goalies, so his defenders have to do better at muscling out forward playing net-front — nothing he could do on that Agostino goal. Archibald’s goal came off his need to play out to limit space for one-timer blasts. But again, rebound control has to be better to avoid chances like Archie got to tie things up.
  • Reid Boucher was Reid Boucher. Guy has got an NHL shot that only works at the AHL level…not much more I can elaborate on him
  • Baertschi wasn’t looking too hot through the opening ten minutes of the game, but he started to come alive as the game chugged along. After that powerplay tally, a switch went off for him, and suddenly it was like he was playing for his NHL career. Impressive puck-control display in the following two periods when the game wasn’t on penalty-killing time for the Comets
  • Defense regressed to their tactics of playing way too deep in the offensive zone. I was hoping after Wednesday’s efforts that those tendencies were shored up or drilled into their heads effectively for the remainder of the season. Fortunately for the Comets D-corps tonight, the Marlies puck-control game was a complete trainwreck. The Marlies sheer number of errant passes and giveaways is what allowed the Comets to pressure in the offensive zone as much as they did. If the Marlies shore up on their control game, then that overly-aggressive play from the d-corps will get them killed by this very impressive Marlies forward group.
  • Jonah Gadjovich continues to impress this season, despite not getting too much ample ice-time tonight against the Marlies. Gadj is making his shifts count, and that’s all anybody could ask from him. His skating looks sharp, he was physical, he didn’t even slow down, plus his playmaking ability didn’t look out of place alongside Perron and Bailey. I’d argue that he was controlled play better with Bailey than Perron did. Perron was rather quiet in tonight’s action, whereas Gadjovich was always doing the little things to make himself noticeable.
  • Outside of that powerplay goal from Agostino, Jalen Chatfield was pretty decent. He made fewer mistakes than several of the other Comets blue liners. If only he had a decent shot, then his speed would be much more threatening.
  • Lukas Jasek was alright in his return, but he was being carried pretty hard by Dyson Stevenson and Carter Bancks. The kids positioning and play with the puck is alright when he has the puck on his stick. But Jasek continues to look like he’s chasing play when he doesn’t inherently have the puck on his stick. It’s bizarre because last season, he was one of the Comets better defensive forwards despite not having the speed. Since his move to center, Jasek looks to have the speed but is playing worse defensively. I think this move to center has tanked his confidence. Jasek genuinely looks scared to create offense in the offensive zone. As much as I enjoy seeing a young forward who will peel back for a defensive effort, I can’t accept it if that’s at the expense of producing negative shot-attempts every game. I wish the Comets and Canucks staff were able to fix the mess they’ve made and could get this kid back to his more comfortable position.
  • Overall, a solid performance from the Comets in a road game against a very hot team. The Comets end the Marlies win-streak at seven and quietly find themselves on a three-game win streak. Tonight’s win puts their points-percentage at 0.643, giving them the edge over the Belleville Senators and the Laval Rocket, who both tie the Comets with 27 points in the division. Comets hopefully return Sunday for another decent effort to try and widen that gap a bit further.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Kole Lind
  • Sven Baertschi

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets are back in action tomorrow when they engage in the rematch. Hopefully, the Comets win, but more importantly, hopefully, I get the recap out in a much timelier fashion!

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

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