12/18/19 – Utica Comets vs. Belleville Senators

Well, the cat’s out of the bag, the Botchford Project has called me up from the minors. I’m ecstatic to be suiting up to get my first taste of NHL action, tomorrow when the Canucks faceoff against their archnemesis, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Like the consummate professional I am, and displaying the kind of professionalism that made me worthy to be a Botchford Fellow! I completely forgot there was a Utica game on tonight.

I’d like to blame my, “giddiness over being chosen,” for the reason why I misread the schedule. Truth is, I got pretty tanked at my work Christmas Party Saturday, woke up Sunday, and saw the Comets got absolutely dunked on by the Division-worst, Binghamton Devils, by a pitiful score of 5-1. Taking my head out of the toilet, I decided not to make my hangover worse by enduring such a tragic loss, and an all-too-quick glance of the schedule had me convinced the game was Friday, not Wednesday.

So alas, let’s get into tonight’s game against the Belleville Senators. A team that edges the Comets in points-percentage to secure the final spot for Calder Cup Playoffs. The Baby Sens are on a three-game win streak and are 8-2 in their past ten.

The Comets, on the other hand, are on a two-game losing streak while posting a 5-3-0-2 record in their past ten. Just like the Canucks, divisional opponents have made up ground on the Comets (except Binghamton, they’re literally a dumpster fire). A three-point disparity is all that separates the Comets from the Divisional basement. Tonight’s pivotal matchup would be a great night to find some consistency and get some distance away from that possibility.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Camper (#19) MacEwen (#15)
Baertschi (#47) Malone (#17) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Jasek (#9) Lind (#13)
Gadjovich (#21) Bancks (#34) Arseneau (#18)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Blujus (#8) Eliot (#52)
G
Zane McIntyre

 

Mitch Eliot slides into the lineup after being a healthy scratch through the previous five. I never understood Eliot getting scratched over someone like LeBlanc. LeBlanc is older and “tougher,” but Eliot is tied with Dylan Blujus for points over Sautner, LeBlanc, Chatfield, and Teves amongst defensemen.

At this point, they should consider sending Teves down to the AHL. Twenty games played eleven shots on net, eight misses, and twelve blocked shots. Eliot is three years younger, skates just as fast, only a bit weaker in physical battles, but genuinely shows an ability to individually create scoring opportunities on his own through shot-attempts or passing. Teves can skate the puck up ice and is one of the better D at controlled zone-entries. But putting pucks on net, passing and being a contributor on goals-for, just isn’t in his skillset.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Wacey Hamilton (faceeeeeee) Dyson Stevenson

 

Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc Josh Teves David Pope Francis Perron

 

Genuinely have no clue why this Comets club thinks they can afford to bench Francis Perron. He skates hard, backchecks with intensity, can kill penalties, and work as the bumper on the 2nd powerplay unit. Barring some trade out of nowhere, this benching makes no sense. I get that MacEwen is back in the lineup, but should that really warrant bumping a dude who can play out of the lineup so the Comets can roll with Gadjovich, MacEwen, AND Arseneau?

The grit/60 requirement for this team is ridiculous if that’s why Perron slid out.

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 1-0 Comets

 

Comets close the period inside the Senators zone. Overall a pretty back and forth period with chances for both teams. Utica edges Belleville for shots on goal, 13 to 9.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 4-1 Comets

 

Comets lead the Senators in shots, 23 to 16, Somehow. Senators edged the Comets in shot-volume and time spent in the offensive zone, but Comets won the accuracy contest. The three straight delay-of-game penalties thwarted any momentum generation for the Senators. Doubt they’ll get that lucky in the third. They need to stay out of the box and avoid throwing the puck away with errant passing.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 4-3 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Zack MacEwen Carter Camper Nikolay Goldobin 5v5
2nd UTI Nikolay Goldobin Carter Camper 5v5
2nd BEL Michael Carcone Alex Formenton Hubert Labrie 5v5
2nd UTI Reid Boucher Brogan Rafferty Kole Lind PPG
2nd UTI Kole Lind Sven Baertschi Brogan Rafferty PPG
3rd BEL Vitaly Abramov Alex Formenton Jordan Murray PPG
3rd BEL Vitaly Abramov Joseph Labate Rudolfs Balcers 6v5

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Nikolay Goldobin
  • Kole Lind
  • Carter Camper

HM: Brogan Rafferty

 

Takeaways

 

  • Comets wind up getting outshot seventeen to four over the final twenty minutes of the game, and that’s after starting the game on a powerplay and getting one in the final five minutes of the game. The team simply had no rebuttal to the speed or crisp passing game of the Belleville Senators. Good on Zane McIntyre for hanging in there through the final frame, because the team played like pylons to close.
  • Kole Lind looked good tonight, flaws and all. Had several moments tonight where he could have cheated after making mistakes, but he put in the effort to recover on nearly all of his errors. Picked up a goal and an assist for his efforts tonight, and IMO should have gotten the second star.
  • Brogan Rafferty’s two-point night gives him 24 in 29 games played. He leads all AHL defensemen in points and is 3rd amongst all rookies. Yes, I’m aware, giant asterisk, he’s 24. I would hope the Canuck’s org gives Rafferty a look before making any brash roster decisions. *cough* don’t trade Troy *cough*
  • Sven had a very noticeable night, was featured prominently on the penalty kill, and generally made his presence known every time he was on the ice. His lone, primary assist tonight puts him at 24 points in 17 games played. At evens, Sven is having the “Petey” problem at the AHL level, where everyone focuses on him pretty hard. He’s a force on the Comets powerplay, though, and a major factor as to why the Comets lead the eastern conference with powerplay success %.
  • Jasek had a pretty quiet night, as did Justin Bailey, whom I thought was quite invisible overall. Jasek had quite a few instances where he’d at least transition the puck effectively. Bailey was nowhere to be found. Not a single instance of him going end-to-end for a weak shot into the side of the net
  • Seamus Malone seems to have the speed and the hockey IQ, but boy, the guy’s hands, look completely different to where they were at last season. I wonder if that arm injury that ended his season last year has impacted his ability to shoot. It’s a shame that his lone goal came in a lost cause against Binghamton last Saturday. Maybe he can turn it around if the bounces start going his way. Because of his size, and how easy it is for opponents to throw him off the puck, he needs to find a scoring or playmaking touch to stick around as the season progresses. Injuries to Hamilton and Graovac are likely the one thing keeping him in a prominent 1st/2nd line center role.
  • Bless Goldobin for still trying his ass off. Sits ninth in AHL scoring and likely will never get a sniff of the NHL again because of this BS “hard skill” “soft skill” garbage.

 

The Comets Trajectory?

Comets return Friday (I’m pretty sure). Having a bit of a ‘friendsmas’ celebration that night, so will undoubtedly be a late recap! Their opponent Friday is the Alex Burrows (assistant) coached, Laval Rocket. The last time these two teams met, the Comets got thoroughly dominated in even-strength shot-attempts but were bailed out by a tremendous goaltending performance from Michael Di Pietro. They follow the home matchup with Laval with a Saturday roadie against the Division-leading Rochester Americans. More crucial divisional match-ups are on the way for the Farm team, hopefully, they can build on tonight’s win, even if it’s without their star rookie goaltender.

 

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

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