2/8/20 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

The Utica Comets return home for a crucial intra-divisional match-up against rivals, Syracuse Crunch, after a disappointing four-game “road trip” around the North Division that saw them pick up a single win.

The Comets had a wild one in their last outing when they came back from four one-goal deficits to force overtime against the Laval Rocket. Comets will need to show that same compete-level tonight if they plan on kicking this losing streak to the curb and return to their winnings ways.

Many issues are plaguing this team right now. Firstly, the goaltending has been steadily falling off a cliff since the start of the season. During this past run of 7 games, the only win the Comets picked up was due to the shutout performance of Di Pietro.

Zane McIntyre’s save percentage trendline

Michael Di Pietro’s save percentage trendline

Asking a rookie netminder to put on shutout performances every night to give them a chance is not going to cut it. That starts with the defence of the team. The Comets aren’t a big team, especially without the likes of Justin Bailey, Zack MacEwen, or Vinny Arseneau. But someone on the back-end or at forward needs to step up and start playing the body on their checks. Too often, this team relegates themselves to waving their stick in front of their opponent as if it’s the only solution to zone-entry and net-front-drive prevention.

The Comets opponents face virtually no adversity when entering the Comets zone, and for a team coached by a former AHL defenseman/goon. It’s quite shocking that their defensive system seems devoid of physicality. I’m not saying the team needs to be headhunting opponents who enter their zone, but they need to do a little bit more than just stand still while allowing their opponents to wade into high-danger scoring positions.

And believe me, the above streamable isn’t a one-off thing, every Comets d-man freezes up in their end. It is a big reason why they sit 12th in the league for the most shots allowed on goal. Too much sitting and watching. A team that’s on track to be in the Calder playoffs cannot have this be their thing. Clean it up!

All that being said, let’s get into the Comets starting lineup, and cross our fingers that they pick up a much-needed two-points against a tough division rival.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Perron (#27) Jasek (#9) Gadjovich (#21)
Goldobin (#77) Stevens (#16) Lind (#13)
Stevenson (#26) Bancks (#34) LeBlanc (#3)

 

LD RD
Sautner (#6) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Chatfield (#5)
Blujus (#8) Teves (#4)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
Wacey Hamilton (foot) Vincent Arseneau (done for the season)

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman David Pope Tanner Sorenson

 

With Guillaume Brisebois up with the Canucks, Trent Cull has re-inserted Josh Teves into the lineup alongside Dylan Blujus. Teves last saw game action on January 25th against Belleville.

The team also sent Mitch Eliot and Seamus Malone down to the Kalamazoo Wings, so I wonder how they’ll be handling the 2nd powerplay unit, which had been featuring Eliot as the point-man alongside Olli Juolevi.

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 3-2 Syracuse

 

Sigh… another crazy one. Crazy-bad period of hockey from Ashton Sautner and the majority of the defensemen. Problems I addressed earlier in the pre-amble appear to remain unchanged, or unaddressed by the coaching staff. No clue how they find this style of “defence” acceptable.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 3-3 Tie

 

This is turning into a literal repeat of the Laval game; total back-and-forth game, that is exciting, but also kind of painful because you’re mostly waiting for the next tiebreaker goal for Syracuse. VERY dominant period from Utica, however, as their play at 5-on-5 and on the powerplay was infinitely cleaner than it was during the opening stanza.

 

3rd period

 

The score at the end of the 3rd period: 4-4 Tie

 

So it’s a LITERAL repeat of the Laval game, haha. When I spoke earlier about showing the same kind of compete level, I didn’t literally mean, give up four leads in one game and force OT!

 

Overtime

 

 

The score at the end of the Overtime: 4-4 Tie

 

Couldn’t make it happen in OT despite an absolutely incredible chance for Kole Lind late in the extra session. This one goes to a shootout!

 

Shootout

 

 

Final Score: 5-4 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st SYR Taylor Raddysh Boris Katchouk Daniel Walcott 5v5
1st UTI Carter Camper Reid Boucher Sven Baertschi 5v5
1st SYR Mathieu Joseph Ross Colton 5v5
1st UTI Jonah Gadjovich Olli Juolevi Ashton Sautner PPG
2nd UTI Lukas Jasek Stefan LeBlanc SHG
3rd SYR Taylor Raddysh Danick Martel Boris Katchouk 5v5
3rd UTI Reid Boucher John Stevens 5v5

 

Shootout
Mathieu Joseph saved
Nikolay Goldobin saved
Taylor Raddysh saved
Francis Perron goal
Alex Barre-Boulet goal
Reid Boucher goal

 

Takeaways

  • my tracking, Mitch Eliot has been a net-positive for shot-attempt differential at 5-on-5; every other Comets defenseman is running in the negatives. I’m not sure if the Comets coaches are preaching a physical defensive effort or not, but if they are, they aren’t getting it anyways, so give Eliot a longer look.
  • Another solid game from John Stevens tonight. Really solid pick up from Ryan Johnson as Stevens has been crucial to the teams PK in the wake of Wacey Hamilton’s injury (even though, yes, the PK hasn’t been that good), but it has been good with Stevens on the ice. Beautiful pass that led to the game-tying goal and the Comets pbp booth rewarded him with the third-star honour for his efforts tonight, so good on him for making an impact.
  • Really impressive game from Olli Juolevi who was dynamite in the offensive zone and was rarely making unforced errors in the defensive zone. Had a few of those “Stand-still and wave stick” blunders, but relative to Ashton Sautner, they were minor.
  • Speaking of which, I cannot believe how bad of a first two periods Ashton Sautner was having. To the point where I want to revisit this game during my stats-tracking and try to see if Sautner was getting benched in the third period, or saw his TOI dip. Through the first forty minutes of play, Sautner was a complete net-negative on the ice, he has been relatively passable defensively this season, but this game was a bit of an eye-opener. I might have to revisit some of the older games and re-evaluate.
  • Lukas Jasek had a very strong game as well, and not just because of the shorthanded tally. He was strong along the boards and was creating a lot of great scoring opportunities for his linemates whenever he was on the ice. It might be one of the first games in a while where he was a net-positive in shot attempt differential.
  • Lind and Boucher looked pretty frustrated through much of the game, and I think that’s because they were being hard-matched by Syracuse’s top line of Volkov, Boulet and Raddysh. Boucher was given zero space to work tonight, but he still managed to lead the team with four shots on goal.
  • Once again, goal-scoring was spread throughout the lineup and helped the Comets rally back multiple times to earn some much-needed points. Extra shoutout to Dyson Stevenson, Stefan LeBlanc and Carter Bancks for their suffocating forechecking efforts tonight that kept hammering the Crunch into their zone.
  • Sven Baertschi had a phenomenal game too, he ended the game with one assist, but he arguably should have had more. It seemed as though Scott Wedgewood turned on his A++ game whenever Baertschi was creating offence in the Crunch zone. Tough game for Baertschi akin to Boucher and Lind, as the Syracuse team was ALL over him and barely giving him an inch to work. Fortunately, for the Comets, it didn’t matter how little room Baertschi was given; his outstanding skating drove offensive play for his linemates tonight. Given my comments, last game, wondering whether he was checked out or just sick, I think tonight’s game answered those questions. Baertschi is all in for this team, and he was dynamite for them every second he was on the ice.
  • Tough game for Di Pietro, but he’s young and will learn. His rebound control does need work, however, as Syracuse was given multiple secondary scoring chances off weak redirections of his.
  • Quieter night for Goldobin. That’s it. That’s the tweet.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Sven Baertschi
  • Reid Boucher
  • Lukas Jasek

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets return next Wednesday when they take on the visiting Laval Crunch in a rematch of their recent road game. Could it be possible that we get another 5-4 extra-time game? Check out next weeks Comets Harvest to find out!

One thought on “2/8/20 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

  1. The 3 promoted Comets are sitting in the Canucks press box. Comets have zero defense. Saunters performance seems to regress every game. He was terrible tonight. Best hit by a Comet tonight was when Goldy collided with the ref and they both went to the ice.

    Cull spends too much time playing with his hair. Question some of his lines moves. He has Comets playing soft non physical hockey.

    Sent from my iPhone

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