COMETS HARVEST: Apocalypse Crunch: Redux

Fresh off their absolute destruction of the Rochester Americans, the Utica Comets are back at it again in dem white vans as they hit the road for an away game against the Syracuse Crunch!

The Comets have split the season series with the Crunch, 1-1-0-0, with both teams trading blowout victories. The Crunch are currently winning the goal-differential battle, having outscored the Comets eight to six.

The last time these two met on the heel of a back-to-back, the Comets controlled shot-attempts adequately at 5v5 — out-attempting the Crunch by +10 over 60 minutes of action.

In that game, the wheels came off at the start after the Comets gave up a shorthanded goal on their first powerplay of the night.

Discipline hasn’t been the Comets’ strong suit this season, but who can fault them? A group loaded with as many rookies as they are is bound to take penalties as they climatize to AHL hockey. They’re currently third in the league for the most times spent shorthanded while running the 24th ranked penalty-kill.

Jonah Gadjovibes

Just want to send some praise over to everyone’s favourite elderly man-child, Jonah Gadjovich, for his production to start this season.

Gadj’s three-point night last night against Rochester leapfrogged him to a tie with recently called-up Sam Anas for first on the team in scoring.

Personally, I don’t think anyone expected that.

There are some asterisks involved in that he’s a three-year AHL veteran playing on a third-line in fairly sheltered minutes that don’t require him to be an elite two-way player. Right now, he’s got Will Lockwood and Carson Focht doing most of the defensive play, breakouts, and passing, while he’s usually the dump & chase, retrieval, board-battle, and net-front guy.

I still have doubts about his defensive play and skating, but he’s been a completely reliable goal-scoring forward at the AHL level. Especially at 5v5.

I mean, look at that chart! Gadjovich currently has points on 35% of the Comets 5v5 goals. He has double the 5v5 goals than the next goalscorer, John Stevens, who picked up two in last night’s game.

I genuinely wonder if the line-blender will benefit Gadjovich and if Cull will look to slide him with Baertschi and Lind to try and get something out of those two distributors?

At the very least, it’s a promising start and fantastic production from one of the Canucks forgotten prospects.

I don’t think he’s knocking on the door for NHL time this season, but hell, anything’s possible with this dumpster fire of a team.

If he can just get passable skating consistently, maybe that call-up conversation starts happening. Until then, however, we can appreciate him for being the only consistent source of 5v5 production to this team.

Jack Rathbone

You really have to wonder why the Canucks didn’t give Jack Rathbone at least one game to see what he could do.

Absolutely loved everything I saw from Rathbone in his first game of the season.

DO SOMETHING

Kole Lind.

He needs to start shooting pucks, stop being fancy, and just throw shots on the net. He has a great one-timer and wrister; he needs to use it. He’s currently earned one 5v5 point in his last five games while being on-ice for only three goals at 5v5 all season.

I know the first-line matchups are tough… but I need to see something at evens from Lind.

STARTING ROSTER

Game 7 Lineup vs. Syracuse
  • Looks like John Stevens remains out with injury; he left after the Comets early PK in the third period against Rochester and did not return.
  • LOL, Hugh McGing had a pretty unremarkable game for Utica last night, but even with John Stevens out, the coach elects to go with seven D rather and play ‘line blender all night rather than play him. What a condemnation.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 7:

1st period:

  • Comets pushed into their zone for the first 45 seconds — Kielly gloves the first shot of the night.
  • Josh Teves attempts to send Jonah Gadjovich behind the defence with a rebound off the end boards, but Gadj doesn’t have the speed to beat out the icing. Fun idea though
  • [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Eh wadaya say, it’s Vinny Fackin’ Arseneau ova ‘ere! Lukas Jasek (#9) wins the d-zone faceoff to Jett Woo (#22), who hands off to Jack Rathbone (#3) for the breakout pass. Arseneau (#18) picks up the pass in the neutral zone and casually walks in for a wrister that beats Sam Montembeault’s glove side. I can’t believe the Comets pbp guy said Arseneau doesn’t have hands. Smh. Arseneau picks up his second goal in as many nights.

PP1: Lind, Baertschi, McKenzie, Reinke, N. Stevens

  • Comets PP1 struggling to set up in the offensive zone. Eventually, they put themselves offside, and PP2 comes out.

PP2: Jackson, Focht, Gadjovich, Rathbone, Jasek

PP1: Lind, Baertschi, McKenzie, Reinke, N. Stevens

PK1: Lockwood, Kaspick, Tucker, Reinke

PK2: Jasek, McKenzie, Teves, Eliot

  • Wow, the Woo penalty ends, and moments later, Mitch Eliot takes a boarding penalty to put the Comets back onto the PK. Trent Cull won’t like that from his d-man

PK1: Tucker, Reinke, Kaspick, N. Stevens

  • Crunch spend opening 40 queuing up for a shooting lane. Eventually, Kielly gloves down a weak shot that was going wide. PK1 changes off

PK2: Jasek, Woo, Lockwood, Teves

2nd period:

PK1: Kaspick, Eliot, Teves, Lockwood

PP1: Lind, Baertschi, Reinke, McKenzie, N. Stevens

3rd period:

  • Comets start the third period with a very minor twelve-second powerplay.
    • And they lose the faceoff draw, killing any powerplay set-up hopes.
  • What a baffling play. Tyler Tucker gets hit in the face with a high-stick…at the exact same time, Carson Focht with an errant stick to a Syracuse player’s face.
    • Focht heads to the box for high-sticking… the Crunch player did not lol.

PK1: Kaspick, McKenzie, Tucker Reinke,

  • Kaspick with an easy clear to kill off thirty seconds of the Focht penalty

PK2: Jasek, Woo, Teves, N. Stevens

PK1: McKenzie, Kaspick, Tucker, Reinke

  • A big block from Tucker early that springs the Comets ahead for a shorthanded chance
    • PK1 plays the puck around all corners of the ice to wind down the clock.
    • Crunch then put themselves offside on a zone-entry

PK2: Lockwood, Jasek, Teves, Woo

PK1: Jasek, Kaspick, Tucker, Reinke

RESULT:

Comets defeat Crunch 4-2 in regulation.

SCORESHEET:

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Really solid effort against a well-rested Syracuse team. The Syracuse Crunch have a litany of issues: Lack of depth, messy d-core, suspect goaltending. Given last night’s third-period annihilation, I expected even the shallowest of teams to put up a tough fight. And they did. The Comets looked exhausted when they weren’t able to clear their zone effectively. A lot of shifts were spent hemmed into their zone in the latter half of this game.
  • Comets again took six minor penalties tonight. Their PK groups were outstanding. Blocking shots, keeping the Crunch to the perimeter. The PK was one of the few times where the Crunch weren’t able to set up effectively.
  • The decision to roll with seven defencemen and eleven forwards paid off tonight. Liked many looks that the forward trios gave in the early goings of tonight’s game. Though, due to exhaustion, they became a bit stale as the game progressed. Comets have done a good job of generating momentum for themselves. Last night, it was crucial shot-blocking from the Comets young d-core on the penalty kill. Tonight, it was the lethal goalscoring prowess of fourth-liner Vincent Arseneau that motivated the troops. Arseneau’s early goal in the first seemed to wake the Comets up a bit in the first half of the period. They ended up shooting themselves in the foot in the second half with back-to-back penalties from Jett Woo and Mitch Eliot.
Game 7 Shot Chart versus Syracuse
  • The third period was a display of clutch shot and pass blocking through the slot. Crunch still got their looks, but the Comets skaters really held the Crunch to the outside. Crunch had just one or two shots from the slot. Really great work directing traffic to the outside for shots. That extra space really helped Kielly to make clean glove saves.
  • Speaking of which, Kielly was fantastic tonight! Those few shots from close to the net were unreal stops from him. Rebound control still needs work. Probably handed the Crunch a few extra opportunities than were necessary. He isn’t very active around the net either. Rarely leaves to play the puck. Montembeault, on the other hand, was constantly out of his net trying to play the puck. That activity resulted in that second Arseneau goal that really put the Comets over. I’ll take safe and reliable over whatever it was that Montembeault was trying to accomplish tonight. Great win for Kielly. Colour me impressed!
  • Jonah Gadjovich didn’t end up on the scorecard, but I thought he had a fantastic game. Skating looked great. Forechecking resulted in some unruly stretches of pressure for the Comets, good hits, good shots on goal. Loved what I saw from him tonight on nearly every shift. Would love to see him get a look with Baertschi and Lind.
  • Kole Lind still didn’t find the net at 5v5, but two points are two points. Was his usual self; flashy, aggressive, good skates, but I liked how much more willing he was to throw shots on the net. He finished the night with four shots on goal, tying the aforementioned Gadjovich and Sven Baertschi for the most on the team.
  • Jett Woo might be salvaging his stock pretty considerably here with the way he’s played in Utica to start the year. Solid skates, good passes, love his willingness to hop in and contribute offence. He and Rathbone have been dynamite in two games. Pleasantly surprised with his utility in all areas of the ice, his willingness to hit, fight, and work on every shift.
  • Will Lockwood, not on the scoreboard but another solid night of little things. Hope he can start being more confident in generating offence on his own. He has the raw tools to do it. Several times his forechecking presence forced the Crunch into losing possession of the puck, but he was reluctant to trust himself in stealing said puck to generate chances. He’s easily a top-3 skater on the team; coaching needs to let him fly and encourage him to trust his instincts. Obi-Wan style.
  • Carson Focht looked good early, faded a bit as the game progressed. Wasn’t really noticeable late.
  • Tyler Tucker continues to be a complete 50/50 player. Either he’s blocking shots, stealing pucks, or poking the puck off of his opponent’s sticks. Or, he’s icing the puck, turning over the puck inside the d-zone, or getting lost in his coverage. It’s bizarre. Not Canucks problem, though, lol.
  • Josh Teves with another solid game even if he didn’t end up on the scoreboard. Like his speed on the penalty-kill.
  • Jack Rathbone is legitimately smurfing in the AHL. I cannot believe the Canucks spent half the season sheltering Olli Juolevi when they could’ve had Rathbone on the ice. I don’t mean to poo-poo Juolevi, but Rathbone’s skating is just miles ahead of Juolevi’s. Should’ve given him at least one game. He’s currently at four points in two games played.
  • Jasek with another solid night playing up and down the lineup. He had a long minute-something shift on the PK, took one shift off, then was back out with Baertschi and Lind as they dominated the offensive zone with control and shot-attempts. Kid’s a workhorse and might be useful to the Canucks should they ever sort out their cap-issues and utilize what they’ve produced internally versus what they’ve acquired through free-agency.

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Vincent Arseneau
  2. Jake Kielly
  3. Jonah Gadjovich

HM: Jett Woo, Lukas Jasek

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets have zero regards for my schedule as they get right back to it with a rematch against Rochester this upcoming Wednesday!

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

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Cheers for tuning in, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

COMETS HARVEST: Utica Space Minerals vs. the Rochester Citizens of the USA

Damn, Utica! Back at it again with dem back-to-backs!

I glowed about this young Comets teams’ 5v5 play in my latest prospect update; Just a few days later, the Comets saw departures of several key figures to the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis Blues Current Taxi Squad as of 02/26/2021

The Blues are facing a brutal run of injury luck as of late. Carl Gunnarsson is out due to knee surgery, Ivan Barbashyev is out for six-weeks, plus the absences of Tyler Bozak, Colton Parayko, Vlad Tarasenko, Robert Thomas, and Jaden Schwartz.

Yeah, yikes.

As such, the Blues called up several key contributors to the Comets; and thus, their first real test as a rookie group begins.

  • Dakota Joshua has proven himself as an effective penalty-killer with fantastic wheels and a great motor. Kind of like a more defensively oriented version of Justin Bailey. Offensive chops haven’t stood out, but his one goal was an absolute beauty created from hard work and skating. The Comets PK will really miss him.
  • Sam Anas is a lethal powerplay phenom. At 5v5, he and his linemates have struggled, as I’ve written about considerably. The powerplay offence is booming with him on the ice, but that three-distributor first-line has struggled in toughs at 5v5 to produce and outshoot their opposition. Comets will struggle to find a fit on that first-line with him gone.

  • Steven Santini is the Comets premiere minute-munching defenceman on a pairing with rookie Tyler Tucker. Without him, the most experienced D-man on the Comets is Mitch Reinke, who’s been an effective 2nd-pairing player but carried only 46 games of AHL experience into this season. Might see Jett Woo on his proper right-side, especially with Jack Rathbone joining the Comets for tonight’s action! It’ll be a very inexperienced bunch but might look better because guys are in their comfortable positions.
  • Lastly, Nathan Walker jumped from middling AHL success with the Comets straight into the Blues active roster. He looked ok in limited viewings, but I haven’t found him to be that impressive. Those two holes in the top-six will be challenging for Trent Cull and company to fill adequately.

 

Cherish It

Just want to slide this in here again to remember the good times we had with this rookie team. You know, just in case the season goes south from here.

Everyone’s favourite East-coast tire-fire, the Buffalo Sabres, called up quite a few players from the Rochester Americans lately, so maybe the Comets Youth Group will fare much better than I think.

The lingering misery of that Mike Smith shutout has pushed me to be even more of a fatalist/cynic regarding how the Comets will perform tonight.

However, because I’ve already dealt with a fair share of bad news lately, I want to fight against that pull to the dark side!

Instead, I want to remain as hopeful as possible during these trying times!

Tonight’s Amerks squad is without Rasmus Asplund, Casey Fitzgerald, and Jacob Bryson. That’s the ‘Merks first-line center and their number one d-pairing.

Comets won’t be alone in their battle against depth issues tonight.

The last time these two met, the Comets narrowly won the 5v5 control battle. Unfortunately, a late penalty from rookie Carson Focht gave the Amerks a late powerplay tying-goal to force a shootout.

Given that Rochester was coming off of a week-long break, and the Comets were on the heels of a back-to-back. The shootout loss was completely forgivable.

Rookies make mistakes, and all things considered, they were playing way above expected given their last back-to-back ended in a blowout 6-1 loss to Syracuse (their opponent for tomorrow).

DO SOMETHING

Tonight’s do something belongs to Will Lockwood.

Despite his very favourable shot-control metrics at 5v5, there’s just been such a lack of offence generation that it’s almost painful watching him play.

He has NHL skating, plays hard, fights for loose pucks, and steals pucks off of opponents. But nothing offensive ever gets generated for all his efforts.

Need to see him do something with all of the little things that he excels at. Especially tonight, where he’ll likely see himself in the Comets top-six for a considerable amount of ice-time.

BEST SCOOP

STARTING ROSTER

  • Looks like Cull is looking to just completely load up the first line and trusting Focht with two decent two-way players in McKenzie/Stevens
  • These guys have been pinned to each other so often that the forward groups have barely any recorded on-ice shot-attempts with each other during the first five games.
  • It should be an interesting night as we watch them try to cobble together some chemistry.
  • JettBone hype

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 6:

1st period:

PK1: Teves, Kaspick, Eliot, J. Stevens

  • PK1 with a great job to rim the puck out of the zone and keep the Amerks in the neutral zone

PK2: N. Stevens, Curtis McKenzie, Woo, Tucker

  • Amerks spending a ton of time cycling but not generating any shots. Amerks blow the zone for themselves, and PK2 changes.
  • Great early PK from the Comets
  • Oof, Tanner Kaspick (#26), after two solid PK shifts, waves Will Lockwood (#10) to hop over the boards. Lockwood hops over the boards way too early and plays the puck.
    • Comets immediately back onto the PK for ‘too many men.’

PK1: Jasek, J. Stevens, Tucker, Woo

2nd period:

PK1: Reinke, Kaspick, Woo, J. Stevens

PP1: Reinke, Lind, N. Stevens, Baertschi, McKenzie

  • Veteran heavy powerplay unit, but I think I’d have Rathbone out there no matter what
  • Shorthanded chance against powerplay one gets deflected out of play by Gillies.

PP2: Rathbone, Focht, Jasek, McGing, Gadjovich

PP1: Lind, McKenzie, Reinke, Baertschi, N. Stevens

  • Lind loses the draw, and the Comets have to reset
  • Comets put themselves offside and again have to reset
  • PP1 just struggling to break into the zone. Finally, they do with 9:35 left in the second period.
  • Great speed by Focht (#19) for the powerplay zone-entry
  • Powerplay opportunity ends, and then Rathbone ices the puck.
  • Dangerous giveaway from Jasek. Fortunately, the Amerks veteran line whiff on their one-timer chance.
  • [GOAL – UTICA – 2-1 Comets] Powerplays? Who needs ’em! Lockwood (#10) and the third-line capitalize again for the Comets with a quick bang-bang play behind the Amerks goal-line to set up John Stevens (#16) for his second of the night! A great forechecking presence from this line forces the Amerks into a bunch of egregious turnovers behind their net.

PK1: Jasek, Kaspick, Teves, Eliot

  • Jasek (#9) gloves down a puck and leads a shorthanded drive for him and Tanner Kaspick (#26)
  • McKenzie, N. Stevens hop on and generate another shorthanded chance — Reinke and Woo hop on to replace Teves/Eliot
  • Comets young PK groups close out the period with another clear
  • Comets close the period heavily, leading in shots fourteen to seven
  • A great second half from them despite the late PK

3rd period:

  • Comets start the opening 18 seconds on the penalty kill.
  • Right before a d-zone whistle, the refs blow the whistle to allow the Comets’ lone goalscorer from tonight, John Stevens, to leave the ice under his own power. Tough loss to the Comets to start the period. Not sure what that was about.
  • Wow, Gadjovich gets called for a hold while battling along the boards for the puck in the offensive zone. Horrendously soft call. Both teams seem to be in disbelief.

PK1: Lockwood, Kaspick, Teves, Eliot

PK2: Jasek, McKenzie, Woo, Tucker

  • The lines getting mixed and matched because of John Stevens’ absence; Jasek back playing center for the Comets as he takes a spin with Arseneau and McGing, haha. What a combo
    • The line gets a shift, and they spend it all in the offensive zone dominating with chances, haha.
  • [GOAL – UTICA – 4-2 Comets] Wow. What a turnaround! Nolan Stevens (#17) threads a pass to the blue line to Josh Teves (#4), who settles the puck before wristing a shot past a screened Luukkonen for his first career AHL goal. Good for Teves after a brutal run of luck in his pro-career. Great job by McKenzie (#81) screening Luukkonen on that play. Luukkonen had zero clue where that shot came from.

RESULT:

Comets annihilate Amerks 7-2

SCORESHEET:

 

Game Thoughts:

  • Wow, what a turnaround from this very inexperienced Comets group. The first period started out fantastic for them, just laying on the pressure and shots; then they take back-to-back penalties and spend the next twenty minutes trying to regain a semblance of momentum. The Steven Fogarty goal to tie it up late in the second didn’t phase them at all, and they came out in the third firing on all cylinders. I really think those back-to-back blocks from McKenzie and Woo pumped up the team to start stringing together some meaningful 5v5 offence.
  • Tonight was an absolute 5v5 clinic! Comets scored Six of their seven goals at evens in rapid-fire fashion. Complete domination of an opponent that looked completely out of sorts after failing to generate anything on the powerplay. Outside of the lone goal early in the second, the Comets penalty kill looked fantastic. Impressively so because it was held together by players who’ve struggled to find a place in this lineup; Teves and Kaspick, in particular, had fantastic games tonight for Utica at evens and shorthanded.
  • Speaking of Teves, I thought he looked great tonight. His skating, in particular, makes him such a good option for the penalty kill. I can’t even fault him too much on that hooking penalty that resulted in the lone powerplay goal-against. It was soft. Like, incredibly soft. Kudos to Trent Cull for not punishing Teves by limiting his ice time thereafter. And Kudos to Teves for finally putting a leash on his own adventuring in the offensive zone. By keeping himself outside of the circles, he provided way more utility with his shot attempts. By that, I mean, when he skates past the hash-marks for shot attempts that sail wide, the Comets have to put in extra-effort to backcheck now that they’re four-deep into the offensive zone. If he misses the net on his shot attempts, but he and his d-partner are still along the blue line, there isn’t nearly as much risk. He was safe, and that’s exactly what this d-core needed in the absence of Steven Santini. After all the time he’s spent riding the pine, it was nice to see him earn his first AHL goal. It’s been a tough road for him to make his game work, and tonight he did it. Hopefully, he can remain consistent and continue to play this refined game.
  • I’m going to go out on a limb and say my DO SOMETHING section this season is revolutionizing player-development! Every time I pick a guy, they go out and have an incredible game that night. Last week, although he didn’t end up on the scoreboard, Kole Lind had one of his best two-way games of the season and looked his most comfortable as a center. Tonight, it was Will Lockwood, who arguably had two solid assists on goals were it not for a phantom tip by Jonah Gadjovich for his lone assist of the night. Lockwood was great! Did everything I hoped to see of him in the pre-amble. He used his aggression, skating, and edgework to wheel in the offensive zone and create shot-attempts. And not just shot-attempts but dangerous shot-attempts! I was thoroughly impressed by his work rate at evens and while shorthanded. Like Teves previously, hopefully, he can maintain a semblance of consistency with this kind of play. The Lockwood of tonight would be found money for the Canucks if he can generate shot-assists as frequently as he was tonight.
  • It’s weird, but John Stevens left this game at the perfect time. After scoring two goals to keep the Comets in it when they were at their relative-worst. Steven’s absence forced Cull and company to completely re-jig their line combinations. And each combination worked incredibly well. Practically every line was hemming the Amerks into the offensive-zone through their relentless forechecking pressure and shot-control. A lot of that kudos goes to the players for their work-rate and effort-levels tonight, but kudos to the coaches for making it work through the final 16 minutes.
  • Tyler Tucker struggled away from Steven Santini; he got exposed a bit on several defensive plays. Had multiple plays where he had fantastic takeaways only to ice the puck and put the Comets at a disadvantage. Reinke is an okay d-partner, but he’s a compliment player, not a driver. Kind of like Reinke/Teves in the early parts of this season, they both need someone more effective to make them not stand out with their errors. Unfortunately, Reinke has proven ineffective with Teves, so the Comets are a bit stuck hoping that Tucker/Reinke can put it together on their own. The most that can be said about the Canucks d-prospects tonight is they were absolute difference-makers for the team tonight.
  • Jett Woo had a tonne of shots on net and looked effective all night. He and Rathbone controlling the blue line as effectively as they were was mouth-watering. Loved to see him sticking up for Rathbone after that one hit.
  • Jack Rathbone is smurfing in the AHL. I can’t believe the Canucks are this dogshit and didn’t even consider giving him a game to see what he can do. His skating is easily the best on the team. Three assists in one game are no joke. He looked so god damn good tonight like a seasoned pro. He had one moment where he was caught flat-footed skating backwards, but he made up for it by playing the body. And fortunately, the Amerks offence looked like garbage all night at evens. Kind of a shame he wasn’t sent down earlier. Didn’t know how badly Canucks nation needed JettBone in their life.
  • Jonah Gadjovich had a great game! His three points tonight place him in a tie for first with Sam Anas among Comets scorers with seven points overall. His skating is still a yikes at times, but he can occasionally display great wheels to chase down pucks. I wonder if he slides up permanently alongside Lind and Baertschi as that lines goalscorer. He’s an underrated shot from the circle’s and a solid net-front guy when he gets there; Relentless on rebounds. Could be a decent fit if the coaching staff didn’t like Lind/Baertschi/Jasek as a trio.
  • I thought the Lind, Baertschi, Jasek trio were dynamic and fun as hell to watch. For my money’s worth, That opening ten minutes of the game was unbelievable from them. That first shift saw them pin the Amerks into the d-zone for a full minute and a half. Of course, you want them to capitalize on the o-zone time, but you have to love the demoralizing effect their pressure causes. Worth another look I think, but it’s good to know after a game like tonight that the Comets have options with their forwards.
  • Carson Focht had a quiet night on the scoreboard, but he looked great on that two-way punch line with Nolan Stevens and Curtis McKenzie. Had a few good looks and chances.
    • Nolan Stevens played great, once again, the Blues prospect finishes his night with two assists, five shots on goal and a +2 in the always useful plus/minus stat.
    • Curtis McKenzie finished the night with one assist and zero shots but as stated earlier, his role at the net-front were the reason why both Teves and Baertschi’s goals went in.
  • Thought Mitch Eliot looked really solid in both ends of the ice
  • A couple of times, the Comets looked lost trying to break out of their end, but when they managed to regain possession, they were slick in quickly moving the puck up-ice to generate chances of their own. Amerks are solid at the cycle game and maintaining the zone, but incredibly opportunistic and picky/choosy with their shooting lanes, to a fault.
  • Blues prospect Hugh McGing finished the night as the only player with a negative plus/minus and you kind of have to laugh at that given the final result.
  • Arseneau is always a blast to watch. Total cannonball player with a bomb of a shot; I don’t care what that commentator says, Arseneau has hands that aren’t just for fighting. Finished the night with a wicked goal, four shots, and four PIM’s. Solid night for the journeyman!
  • Powerplay truly needs work. Needs to be overhauled entirely as far as I’m concerned. PP1 just doesn’t have a real shooter option. PP2 is the real prize; it’s young and inexperienced, but Gadjovich, Jasek, Focht, and now Rathbone are a great mix to produce offence. If anything I would just remix the two to get a mixture of both shooters and playmakers.
    • PP1: Lind, Baertschi, Rathbone, Gadjovich, Lockwood
    • PP2: Focht, Jasek, Nolan Stevens, McKenzie, Eliot
  • RE the above: I don’t think Reinke is anything special on the powerplay, so get Rathbone playing there instead. Eliot has a bomb of a shot and if Reinke really is the Comets guy for the powerplay, then make Eliot/Reinke your PP2 duo and take out one of Nolan Stevens or Curtis McKenzie.

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Jack Rathbone
  2. Jonah Gadjovich
  3. Will Lockwood

HM: Jett Woo, Sven Baertschi, and John Stevens

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets back at it tomorrow afternoon against the Syracuse Crunch, who, once again, get the favourable opportunity of playing the Comets on the heels of a back-to-back.

he-cant-keep-getting-away-with-it.gif

As I wrote earlier, the Comets got demolished six-to-one the last time the Comets had to close a back-to-back against Syracuse.

However, despite their result, the Comets Youth Group impressed in their last back-to-back outing against a well-rested Rochester squad!

Barring more call-ups by the Blues, let’s remain positive that this group at the very least shows well regardless of the result!

 

Plugs

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Cheers for tuning in, and I’ll catch you tomorrow night for the back-to-back closer redux against Syracuse.

Jumping to Conclusions: An Early Dive into the Stats of the Canucks AHL Prospects!

They’ve only played five games.

There’s been a sandwiching effect on the talent-level, AHL-wide, due to the advent of Taxi-Squads. Including the Utica Comets, there has been significant evaporation of top-level players, plus a thrust/influx of lesser and inexperienced talent up and into the bottom and middle of AHL lineups.

Maybe, they are too young to know they shouldn’t be doing this well?

Logically, it’s too early to get into a statistical dive into the Canucks AHL prospects.

But, given the current state and discourse surrounding the Vancouver Canucks, this writer figures some praise based on early sample sizes is appropriate for a pick-me-up.

Fans could use some good news for once.

 

The Talent Sammich

Alright, it’s important to flesh out one of those asterisks to the stats I’m about to dish out on the Canucks young guns!

Because of the flat-cap and the advent of ‘Taxi Squads,’ many AHL Teams saw 1/3rd, or more, of their top-six forwards get promoted to Taxi-Squad duty — or move on elsewhere in their pro-careers (KHL, Swiss leagues etc.)

Take Tampa Bay/Syracuse, for example:

2019-20 Syracuse Crunch Top-10 Scorers

Of the Syracuse Crunch’s top-10 scorers from 2019-20, five of them currently find themselves part of the NHL/Taxi-Squad rotation. Barre-Boulet was just called up today and is playing in his first career NHL game

That evaporation of their Top-six, including Cory Conacher and Danick Martel’s departures, means that players like Taylor Raddysh are the veteran on a line with rookies Gabe Fortier and Cole Schwindt as the top line. 

So while it’s all good and grand that the Canucks young guns are posting great shot-control metrics and genuinely looking very good. We have to couch some of that praise with the reminder that some aren’t exactly playing against bonafide AHL competition.

Especially in regards to those in the bottom-six, the young guns are facing off against a lot of young, inexperienced rookies and tweeners, who might otherwise be floating in the ECHL during a normal season.

New Roles For the Not-Kids

2019-20 Utica Comets Top-10 Scorers

For some of the relatively more-established Canucks prospects, the evaporation of talent has opened up the door for them to cement themselves as fixtures in the Comets top-six.

The Canucks lost most of their top-six to the KHL and the Taxi-Squad, allowing players like Lind and Jasek to see themselves thrust into important positions as the Comets premiere top centers.

Kole Lind went from second-line winger alongside Justin Bailey and insert-center-here into a first-line center role alongside Sam Anas and Sven Baertschi.

Lukas Jasek went from third-line center getting caved-in by shot-attempt now finds himself as the Comets second-line matchup centerman alongside Nolan Stevens and Curtis McKenzie. And thriving (more on that later).

Jonah Gadjovich, however, went from being a fourth-line powerplay specialist to a third-line powerplay specialist.

Lind and Jasek have adapted well to their new roles. Lind is obviously learning and developing on the fly with his new position, but each game of his as the team’s top center has yielded positive results, even if not reflected on the scoreboard.

Comets 5v5 Play

Who is this team? and what have they done to the Utica Comets of last season?

For perspective, it took the Utica Comets nine games to control shot-attempts at 5v5 five times. This year’s young gun squad has done it in five straight.

By this point last season, the Comets were rocking a negative-30 shot-attempt differential at 5v5. They were undefeated in that stretch, but they were punished heavily for their overly aggressive offensive style as the season progressed and regression started settling in.

In a beautiful piece of contrast, the Comets this year are rocking a plus-30 shot-attempt differential at 5v5.

We love to see it.

Kudos have to go to the players and coaching staff for really dialling back on the overly-aggressive four-man drives on goal for results. They’re utilizing a much safer play style, wherein the 3rd forward into the zone stays high in the slot or high along the boards. Gone are the days of all three forwards and one D pinching up past the circles to “power-forward” their way to the net for shots and rebound-attempts.

Props must also be given to their aggressive forecheck work. Usually, led by two forwards in the neutral zone, the Comets have net significant offensive zone control-time through their pressure and takeaways. The speed brought to the Comets bottom-six by players like Focht, Lockwood, Joshua, and McGing seems to be giving opposing teams fits in this season’s early goings.

For a group with as many rookies as it does, these are all positives moving forward as this group develops!

Little Things

We really love to see it, folks.

Jasek, Lind, Woo and Focht in the Top-10 for combined shot-attempts and shot-assists.

PLAYERS

  1. Kole Lind
  2. Lukas Jasek
  3. Jett Woo
  4. Mitch Eliot
  5. Jonah Gadjovich
  6. Carson Focht
  7. Will Lockwood
  8. Josh Teves
  9. Sven Baertschi

 

Kole Lind

Kole Lind Player Card After 5 GP

Mr. Lind has had a mildly difficult adjustment to his new role as the Comets first-line center, but, despite his team-worst shot-attempt differential at 5v5, there are many positives to take away from his first five games.

Firstly, his engagement in the play is top-notch. Lind is currently leading the Comets in takeaways at 5v5. I’ve loved his efforts on backchecking into the d-zone to break up setups and cycles. While he’s struggled with giveaways of his own (usually off of overly-creative playmaking in the offensive-zone), there is an overall net-positive with Lind on the ice at 5v5.

Last season, he was primarily the set-up man for Justin Bailey, whereas this season, he and his linemates Anas and Baertschi are struggling to find out who’s the set-up man and who are the triggermen. This lack of identity has resulted in many pretty passing plays that don’t result in shots on goal. Or passing plays that have taken one pass too many before a shot is taken. Usually resulting in easy saves for goaltenders who’ve had that extra second to set up.

Lind’s shot has taken another step this year. It’s looked quite lethal. He’s effectively slid into that Reid Boucher one-timer spot on the Comets powerplay and looked great there. He’s tied with Gadjovich for team-lead in goals scored. With three notches on the powerplay.

As the first-line develops a stronger identity with their roles, Lind will start to flourish. He’s doing so many little things correctly while rocking a 99.6% PDO. Odds are that he’s due for some better puck-luck at 5v5. Trust the Process, Mr. Lind… Baertschi and Anas are no Justin Bailey, but surely an NHL talent, a Quad-A talent, and Lind can find a way to produce effectively at 5v5 regularly.

Lukas Jasek

Lukas Jasek Player Card After 5 GP

The CometsHarvest when we see Lukas Jasek thriving in his position as a two-way matchup center, PP2 bumper, and PK player:

Jasek has been fantastic to start the season. Probably one of the most “NHL ready” prospects the Canucks have in the AHL right now. Solid two-way foundation, tenacious in board battles, highly underrated distributor, great hand-eye, the only problem being a weak shot.

Jasek has found a way to be productive in every situation he’s been placed in. He’s tied for the team lead in shorthanded points, second in total points, second in primary shot-assists, first in primary-shot assists at 5v5, and tied for second in all-situations takeaways.

Most importantly, after five games, Jasek leads the Comets with a 5v5 shot-attempt differential of +32.

Comets Harvest readers will remember that Jasek had the unsavoury honour of leading the Comets with a team-worst negative-173 5v5 shot-attempt differential last season.

Jasek’s impressive 5v5 metrics this season aren’t just a product of teammate quality either. Jasek’s two most common linemates, Curtis McKenzie and Nolan Stevens, have posted lesser 5v5 shot-attempt differentials away from Jasek than with Jasek. And this is while also posting a below-average shooting percentage. Jasek could conceivably start getting some better puck luck in the offensive-zone at 5v5 and really start distancing himself from the pack for being the best two-way forward in the Comets lineup in all metrics that I’ve been tracking.

Liking how his season has unfolded! Hoping he can string together some more goals-for at 5v5 to really punch up that player-card. He’s easily a top-3 forward right now on the team for his utility and all-situations offence, but some more production at 5v5 will really put him over.

Jett Woo

Jett Woo Player Card After 5 GP

Everyones favourite prospect-name has been having an excellent debut season with the Comets. He’s been a reliable second-pairing defensive defenseman. However, the offensive side of his game has really been MIA thus far.

For most of this season, Woo has found himself on the left side of the ice, so I do wonder if that’s playing into his giveaways, errors, and lack of dynamic offence? Woo leads the defence in giveaways at 5v5 and tied with Lind for the team lead in giveaways overall.

Woo currently leads the Comets defence in 5v5 primary shot-assists but has only found himself on-ice for a single 5v5 tally. The Comets have the second-lowest shooting percentage with Woo on the ice at 5v5. The Comets also post one of their best on-ice save percentages with Woo on the ice at 5v5.

Due to the Comets’ lack of depth on defence, Woo has found himself thrust into a very prominent PK role, again, on his off-side. The team’s PK suppression rate isn’t too hot with him on the ice while shorthanded. I think he could prove to be an effective penalty killer. He’s physical and knows where to pick his spots for breakout passes. However, he looks off on his off-side.

For now, I’ll place more emphasis on his impact at 5v5 over special teams. Currently, I think he’s looked like a solid defensive defenseman. His lack of production shouldn’t cause anyone to panic just yet.

Hell, Jalen Chatfield’s AHL production left a lot to be desired. Yet, after less than 10 games played in the NHL, Canucks fans had a fever and what they need was more Chatfield. Woo is still incredibly green in his pro-career and will pick up the offensive side as he comes along.

His skating hasn’t looked out of place, and I think if he were able to slide back to his natural side on the right, he might look more comfortable offensively and defensively. Maybe the addition of Jack Rathbone on the left side will help improve that. Those two could be a great compliment to each other and give the Comets second-pairing a much better dynamic than the one it currently has with Woo/Reinke.

Mitch Eliot

Mitch Eliot Player Card After 5 GP

Mitchell Eliot.

Mitch Eliot for short.

‘Mitchy the kid’ for City Slickers fans.

He’s been solid!

Trent Cull has his reservations about using an offensively minded defenseman on his third-pairing. As such, defencemen like Tyler Tucker and Steven Santini wind up eating most minutes during games due to Cull’s reluctance to trust his third pair.

Eliot has a net-positive in the giveaways/takeaways side of the game but isn’t much of a distributor. He’s purely a “queue me up for a one-timer” type of defenceman. He’s currently rocking a +16 shot-attempt differential at 5v5.

Like Woo before him, I have to wonder if playing on his off-side is impacting his offensive game and defensive play?

Much was made about Jalen Chatfields “fine” offensive stats from last season. It was funny that no one ever brought up how Eliot had more points than him in half as many games.

Skating has looked ok so far in four games played. Though, at times there have been some races to the puck that have been dicier than they ought to have been.

For a couple of games, I’d like to see Cull deploying the Canucks D-prospects on their proper sides on the right and try the Blues prospects on their left. Just switch it up a bit.

It can’t hurt to try and see what kind of offence they can get out of them, especially in a mean-nothing season with no Calder Cup implications to season results.

Eliot has solid underlying metrics to back up his play, so it would stand to reason that Cull takes the reigns off of him a bit and see what he can do for this club that only has one goal and one primary-assist from its defence so far this season.

 

Jonah Gadjovich

Jonah Gadjovich Player Card After 5 GP

Jonah continues to be a viable goalscoring threat for the Comets at 5v5. With a knack for the net-front and scoring greasy goals, it looks like nothing has really changed for Jonah when it comes to coming in clutch for his team at 5v5.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the only thing that hasn’t changed since last year. His skating is still plodding, clunky, and slow. He makes it work for him, but you can’t trust him on backchecks or two-way play in any stretch due to his inability to retreat with pace.

The Canucks certainly have a potent goalscorer who plays the tough “fighter” role well enough. Outside of that, he isn’t much of a distributor, nor is he creative enough with the puck in the offensive zone. He has just five primary shot-assists while remaining neutral in the takeaways/giveaways department with two apiece.

I was hoping to see him get some looks on the penalty-kill to see if there could be some utility to get out of the big-bodied forward. Unfortunately, right now, he looks to be mostly a goal-scoring powerplay specialist who is mostly reliant on the distribution and playmaking of his linemates.

His underlying metrics against lesser-quality competition are fantastic. But for someone who’s into his third AHL season, I’d have hoped to see him competing for something a bit more difficult.

I was really quite surprised to see how low his shot-assist totals were. I’ve often praised Gadjovich’s underrated set-up game, but we haven’t seen much of those set-ups result in meaningful shots in five games.

Again, it’s still early in the season, so I’m hoping to see a lot more from him as the season progresses.

Carson Focht

Carson Focht Player Card After 5 GP

Queue up the white-guy-blinking.gif for the early results on Carson Focht!

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expecting much from the overager who saw a points regression in his D+3 season.

Focht has been quite a surprise for the Utica Comets! Added a serious two-way punch and immediate impact to that third-line with Gadjovich and fellow rookie Will Lockwood.

Away from them on powerplay time, and even in brief looks in the top-six with Jasek, Anas, Baertschi and company, he’s looked solid.

Have liked his tenacity on pucks, his involvement in play to steal possession and just in general, his skating. He’s looked just as good on his edges as any other forward in the Comets top-six.

His productivity on the ice has led to him posting the second-best shot-attempt differential at 5v5 with a +22.

Also, he’s tied for third in 5v5 shot-attempts and tied for first on the team in shots on goal with fourteen.

Personally, I would like to see Cull and staff go back to Focht as a penalty-killer for the exact same reasons that I want Höglander to get PK time in the NHL. I dig his skating and drive to get on the puck-possessor.

Overall, it’s been an auspicious start for the rookie! Been thoroughly impressed with his play despite his lack of discipline. In the last two games, Focht has picked up three minor-penalties. One of which led to the game-tying goal that led to their shootout loss to Rochester.

He’s still young and will figure things out. And given how much he’s appeared to figure out already. I like the direction he’s headed so far.

Have got to love that he’s only in year 1 of a 3-year ELC. Very promising stuff from the young rookie! Even if at the end of the day, he’s only fourth-line depth! Cheap depth is good depth!

Will Lockwood

Will Lockwood Player Card After 5 GP

Lockwood has had an interesting run with the Comets so far this season. I’m still not quite sure what to make of him.

His skating is tops, his edgework is clean, hits, and he isn’t afraid to dig deep in board battles. But something is missing.

It isn’t floating, but it’s this weird middle-ground area of doing just enough of the little-things to yield positive results, but not enough to yield a tangible 5v5 offence.

Currently, Lockwood is rocking the second-lowest PDO of any Utica Comet with 93.6%. Only Tanner Kaspick has a lower PDO, an 83.3% PDO picked up in just one game.

Not only are the Comets not getting a good on-ice save percentage with Lockwood on the ice at 5v5, but their shooting-rates are also incredibly low despite posting decent shot-control metrics.

Given his line’s control-rates with him on the ice, I’d like to see him invest more into his own shooting. Currently, he’s only contributed six shot-attempts to the 53 total shot-attempts taken with him on the ice at 5v5.

To quote the great Matthew McConaughey, “alright alright alright.”

Wait, that’s not it.

“You gotta bump those numbers up. Those are rookie numbers.”

For his limited ice-time at 5v5, he shouldn’t be rocking the first 5v5 goal-differential on the team this early in the game. He’s got to start using his skating to find shooting lanes and start throwing pucks on net. He has the little things down when it comes to the tenacity and the work-rate to earn possession of the puck, but he’s got to start doing something with it.

I’m sure the Canucks will take a cheap Eriksson, but being a no-offence forward in the AHL doesn’t earn you too many cups of coffee with the NHL club looking to add some punch to its bottom-six.

Josh Teves

Josh Teves Player Card After 5 GP

I said it already on the CreaseCast with Lachlan Irvine, but Josh Teves getting paid $700,000 of Francesco Aquilini’s money to ride-pine in Utica is very cool and good.

Terrific skater and volume shooter — but oh man, he and Mitch Reinke were an absolutely disastrous combination for the blue line.

Teves has been a healthy scratch the past three games, and it wasn’t unjust. Teves managed six giveaways in two games played and a 5v5 shot-attempt differential of negative-6.

Again, that’s very impressive considering how few minutes he’s played and the fact that the Comets have posted positive shot-attempt differentials in every single game they’ve played this season so far.

It’s kind of funny because Teves was literally only one of two natural left-shot defencemen coming to the Comets from both the Canucks and the Blues. And despite that absolute gimme, he’s still managed to play his way to the press box.

And I don’t even think he’s that bad. He just doesn’t play physically enough nor contribute enough meaningful offence to justify his adventures in the offensive zone. If he used his skating to just be a point-shot defenceman who played conservatively, he’d be a huge boost to the team. But it’s just not his playstyle.

He’s one of three Comets players to have all negative scores on his team-relative metrics. Tanner Kaspick has the most egregious card due to such a brutal one-game sample size in which he got crushed. Vincent Arseneau is the other, who, like Kaspick, only has a small sample size to work with and got crushed in both games he played.

Sven Baertschi

Sven Baertschi Player Card After 5 GP

He’s not a prospect.

He’s just Bae.

He’s such a little trooper. 

Also, big surprise the NHL’er has the highest GF/60 relative metric on the Comets.

 

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Well, folks, there are still 27 games left to go in the Comets season — plenty of data to suss out!

The St. Louis Blues have called up Nathan Walker and Dakota Joshua to the Taxi Squad, which could mean some internal promotions of prospects to the top-six!

The underlying metrics are promising, and I’m looking forward to revisiting this in 5 games or, better yet, at the sixteen-game mark (the midway point of the season).

Either way, I hope you enjoyed this little eye-test/analytics dive into the early-showings of the Canucks prospects currently playing for the Comets!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Next Comets Harvest gameday recap is coming this Friday/Saturday, as Utica takes on Rochester and Syracuse, again, in back-to-back weekend action!

COMETS HARVEST: Utica Space Minerals vs. The Rochester United States Citizens

Pre-Gameage:

Well, folks, it’s a quick turnaround for the Comets! This means my favourite thing ever!

Half-hearted pre-ambles!

After a dominant effort against the Crunch, I expect a bit of a sleepy effort from the Comets tonight. Rochester is coming in fresh, and the last time this happened, they out-controlled their opponent but still wound up giving up six goals.

There’s a chance to surprise, but this team is young and have to temper expectations on nights like these! Let’s just hope for something fun 🙂

Before we get into the starting lineup and tonight’s game action, I wanted to quickly touch on a couple standout veterans for the Comets thus far.

Sven Baertschi

I have to give a shout-out to the consummate professional, Sven Baertschi, who is working his dang butt off to remain relevant to the NHL.

Sven Baertschi player card after first 3 games

After four games, Bae is second on the team in 5v5 points-per-game and second on the team in primary shot-assists.

The Comets, to the surprise of nobody except maybe a guy whose name rhymes with Bim Jenning, have the best on-ice shooting % with Baertschi on the ice at 5v5. The guy just knows when to set up his teammates or when to take shots himself. He has an on-net percentage of 72%, meaning 72% of all his individual shot-attempts wind-up on-goal.

The two players with the next-best on-net percentages, ironically, are shared by the Stevens brothers. Which is simply just adorable.

But yes, CometsHarvest has been a fan of Baertschi in the NHL and in the AHL. He’s constantly forechecking or trying to make things happen for his linemates this year. Sucks that the Canucks management gave up on him one year into his deal (brilliant move, by the way, very intelligent), but he’s been a bright spot for a Comets team that has been desperate for puck-distributors in their lineup.

Sam Anas

Secondary shoutout to AHL short king, Sam Anas who’s casually earned two points each game (except the Syracuse loss) up until tonight.

Sam Anas player card after first 3 games

Highest involvement %, 5v5 points-per-game, shots-on-goal, primary-assists, points… again… dude is 5’7″ 160 pounds soaking wet.

An undrafted free-agent, Anas joined Quinnipiac as a 20-year-old and was immediately a point-per-game player for three years straight. Eventually earning an “A” on his sweater in his final year before signing with the Wild.

This is why I talk about the importance of utility and penalty-killing because here’s a guy who had a fifty-assist season last year and couldn’t even manage a call-up from the Minnesota Wild.

The WILD

These prospects can produce all they want, but if they can’t prove utility outside of being a goalscorer or a distributor, they won’t have value to an NHL coach.

Anas is in it tough trying to crack a recent cup contender in St. Louis. But kids like Lind, Lockwood, Focht, Gadjovich, and Jasek have a tangible opportunity to prove their worth to an organization that is desperate to try and move on from signing the likes of Roussel, Beagle, Sutter etc. to fill the special-teams void.

Also, St. Louis, if you want to trade Anas to the Canucks for Virtanen, maybe we should make that happen… because I, for one, would like to see Anas given a chance in an NHL uniform. Guy has wheels, he can distribute, and he can score. Give him a shot! Why not!? If Rocco Grimaldi can make it happen, then surely someone with Anas’ work-ethic can earn his shot too!

Stop placing such a premium on size, and recognize that skill wins games more than how hitty a bigi boi can hit!

With the praise out of the way, let’s get into tonight’s “do something!”

DO SOMETHING:

Tonight’s “do something” candidate might not be fair, but fuck it, it’s my show — Kole Lind!

Kole Lind player card after first 3 games

While he’s operating at a point-per-game pace, I’d love to see a bit more off-ice puck action and net-positive events at 5v5. Three of his four goals have come on the powerplay, with his 5v5 goal-differential at a negative-two.

Wednesday night, he was fine, but fine won’t cut it if the end-goal is, “make the Vancouver Canucks.”

And for a top line that carries an NHL calibre winger and a Quad-A AHL talent, you’d expect a bit more at evens.

Tonight would be a good time to start proving your elite fringe-NHL’er line can actually be effective at 5v5: more foot-movement, takeaways, passing, and shot generation. We need to just see much more activity from Lind in his new role at center. It’s early, so I understand there are some kinks and hurdles to get over. But we need to see something at 5v5 that proves it’s a position-shift worth sticking with this season.

STARTING ROSTER:

Game Five Starting Lineup
  • Bold to go back to Gillies in a back-to-back. Especially against an Amerks team that is coming in completely fresh
  • Rack Jathbone technically listed as a healthy-scratch but is in the travel/quarantine process until at least the 27th 
  • Corsi-for rates for lines aren’t updated yet as I still have to track last nights game four 🙂
  • Shoutouts to Josh Teves for earning $700,000 of Frank the Tank’s money to ride the pine in Utica this season

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 5:

I’m aware of a bug where using dark-mode filters on Webpress causes embedded videos to not load properly — I’ll be including hyperlinks to the Utica-goal streamables for those who don’t want to turn off their dark-mode. As someone with atrocious eyesight, I get it. Hope the ease-of-access helps and enjoy the game 🙂

1st period:

PK1: Tucker, Santini, John Stevens, Joshua

PK2: Jasek, McGing, Wesley, Woo

PP1: Baertschi, Reinke, Anas, Walker, Lind

2nd period:

PK1: Tucker, Santini, John Stevens, Joshua

  • Dakota Joshua picks off a pass in the d-zone and clears, allowing PK1 to change off for PK2.

PK2: Woo, Wesley, Jasek, Lockwood

PP2: Nolan Stevens, Santini, Focht, Jasek, Gadjovich

  • [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Lukas Jasek (#9) gets the Comets on the board with a glorious tip from the slot off a Steven Santini (#8) point-shot. PP2 cycling effectively before Focht (#19) sauces a pass to Santini on the point. Jasek with a tip so good that even AHL. Tv trackers having trouble pinpointing the goalscorer!

3rd period:

PP1: Baertschi, Reinke, Anas, Walker, Lind

PP2: Focht, Jasek, Santini, Gadjovich, Nolan Stevens

  • [GOAL – UTICA – 2-2 Tie] Jonah Gadjovich ties the game at two! Jasek (#9) wins the faceoff back to Carson Focht (#19) on the blue line, who rips a slapper on Luukkonen. Luukkonen doesn’t control well, and Gadjovich (#21) taps in the rebound from the slot! PP2 with two tallies tonight!

PK1: Tucker, Santini, Stevens, Joshua

  • Good PK for the Comets so far as the Amerks powerplay units get forced out and fail to get set up
  • [GOAL – ROCHESTER – 3-3 Tie] Unlucky, Oskari Laaksonen winds up for a bomb that gets tipped at the last second by Steven Fogarty. Once again, Comets leaving their crease unattended on the PK. Not sure if that’s intentional, but it’s a strategy that has not worked thus far tonight.
  • Comets get an offensive zone faceoff after another odd bounce into the benches. Unfortunately, they lose the ensuing faceoff and are forced out.
  • Both teams appearing content to play “dump and chase.”
  • Some late pressure from the Comets fourth-line. Gadjovich (#21) screening at the net-front
  • First-line with some late pressure — throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Luukkonen
  • Dylan Blujus with a pretty blatant high-stick on Nolan Stevens, but the refs ignore it.
  • Jasek gets a stick caught in his skates and goes to push off and then goes down awkwardly. Hopefully, nothing serious.
  • Time winds down, and this one is going to overtime.
  • Comets outshoot the Amerks badly in the final frame fifteen to nine. 38 TO 26 overall

Overtime:

Shootout:

 

RESULT:

Rochester Def. Utica via Shootout 4-3

SCORESHEET:

Game Five Scoresheet

 

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Props where it’s due, a tired Comets team pushed a rested Amerks squad to its limit. Backing them up with two goals in two minutes on the powerplay and dominating them in shots on goal. Unfortunately, the Comets penalty-killers weren’t up to snuff against an experienced veteran group led by Jean-Sebastian Dea, Steven Fogarty, and Remi Elie. Canucks can take solace that they are earning moral-victories in both organizations! They overachieved in this one.
  • Getting a feeling that my “do something” section has “manifest” energies to it. Tonight both Kole Lind and Sven Baertschi were electric at 5v5. They were defensively sound and constantly creating in the offensive end. Really impressive games from both tonight.
  • Notice Mitch Eliot and Will Lockwood went pretty MIA as the game tightened up in the third period. As I said in the last CH, Lockwood has many raw physical abilities and instincts, but using them to net positive results seems to be absent. Not sure if that’s an IQ thing or what. Both players had several really good looks during the game, but you could tell that Cull had considerably shortened the bench.
  • Lockwood and Blues prospect, Hugh McGing, were the only two skaters to not register shots on goal tonight. McGing is kind of a mystery… he looks like he’s trying really hard and has quite decent shot-control measures, but I never see him with the puck or controlling the puck himself. Might have to pay more attention during my tracking session to see what that’s all about.
  • Two penalties aside, I thought Focht had a really good game tonight. Looked much more comfortable with his shot. Need more of that. Trust your feelings.
  • Steven Santini was a horse for the Comets tonight and was on the ice for 26 minutes again. Premiere penalty-killer, 5v5 minute-muncher. When Cull chops up the minutes of Woo, Wesley, and Eliot, it’s because he’s using Santini and Tucker as much as possible.
  • Another strong game from Lukas Jasek on the faceoff dot. Both powerplay goals that he contributed to came because of his faceoff-wins. Always strong in puck-battles and consistent in both ends of the ice.
  • Comets have earned points in four of their five games this season. It isn’t quite an eight-game win streak to start the season, but for a team this young, you’ll take moral victories like this any day of the week. Yes, you’d have liked to see Focht not take that penalty late in the third. But in all fairness, the reffing was kind of all over the place—quite a few weak calls made in favour of several blatant infractions by both sides.
  • Farmies and Comets Harvest readers will remember that the Comets of last season and the season prior were absolutely awful at out-shooting their opponents. It’s quite wild to see a team that once relied heavily on opportunistic shooting and aggressive pinches from four of five skaters suddenly become a team reliant on patient defensive play and offence generation from heavy forechecking presence. Kudos to the coaching staff for overhauling their methods.
    • Also, respect to the coaches for putting together an OT trio comprised of two brothers. That’s pretty cute.
  • Final thoughts belong to Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who was an absolute wall for the Amerks tonight. Stopped 35 of 38 shots and really kept his team alive in the third period, where they were getting crushed by shots on goal.
  • Trade for Sam Anas and play him with Höglander

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS:

  1. Lukas Jasek
  2. Carson Focht
  3. Steven Santini

HM: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Next Up on the Docket:

The Comets get another week off to work out the kinks of their game. They return next Friday/Saturday for a repeat of this week, as they again take on the Syracuse Crunch and Rochester Americans in a back-to-back.

Plugs and Stuff:

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Cheers for tuning in, and I’ll catch you next week for a repeat of this weeks’ double-header madness!!

Comets Harvest: The Syracuse Squish versus the Utica Meteorites

Pre-gameage:

Hello all, and welcome to another edition of the Comets Harvest! Tonight’s game is a rematch of the Comets’ first blowout loss of the season. A 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the Syracuse Crunch.

Avid readers of the Harvest will remember that the Comets were at a spectacular disadvantage, playing their second game of a back-to-back against a Crunch team who were coming in completely fresh and rested.

Tonight, the Comets will get to avenge that blowout on a much more even playing field.

Both teams are coming into night’s game off of a four-night rest with the Comets looking to build upon their shootout win against Binghamton, while the Crunch look to end a two-game losing streak that followed their season-opening demolishing of the Comets.

The Crunch have a very spread-out attack. In three games, of the Crunch’s 20 skaters, EIGHTEEN have notched a point already.

The Comets, on the other hand, are very top-heavy, and by contrast, in three games, only TWELVE of 22 skaters have earned points so far.

Last season, the Comets were able to find scoring in their bottom-six quite often. It was their middle-six who found the most success against Syracuse in their first outing.

The Comets have done an admirable job controlling shot-attempts at 5v5 thus far. Despite their 1-1-0-1 record, the team has managed a +22 shot-attempt differential across three games.

For perspective, last season, the Comets were running a +23 shot-attempt differential following three straight wins.  In fact, even after winning their first eight, the Comets 5v5 shot-attempt differential was at negative-17.

The Comets aren’t close to an eight-game sample size, but the early results have been promising for a team loaded with rookies making their pro debuts.

The Kids are Gonna be ok:

I spoke about this at length in the most recent episode of The Creasecast, but the early results from the Cauncks two forward prospects have been encouraging!

Carson Focht’s skating and forechecking presence have been wonderful to see. Many of my complaints about Lind, Gadjovich, and Dahlen during their rookie years were their lack of foot movement away from the puck. That doesn’t seem to be an issue with Focht, who is constantly engaging in and away from the play to make things happen for the team.

Carson Focht Player Card after three games

On top of hearing his first pro-career goal on Saturday, he and his linemates, Gadjovich and Lockwood, chewed up their opposition at 5v5 when on-ice together.

Game 3 vs. Binghamton: 5v5 Shot-Control Rates

On the other hand, Lockwood shares a lot of the similar gameplay qualities of Focht but has struggled at converting his forechecking presence and off-puck movement into scoring opportunities.

Will Lockwood Player Card after Three Games

Because of his age, I’m hoping Lockwood can put together the offensive side because his skating and edgework have been above-average. He’s one of five Comets players to not have an unforced giveaway, and his takeaways are fifth overall on the squad. Just need to see him pump up those shot-assist and offensive metrics to offset some of the gaudy on-ice goals-against metrics.

Lockwood has been on-ice for three of the Comets 5v5 goals-allowed and none for; need to turn that around. Controlling shot-attempts will take you only so far if you’re still rocking one of the worst on-ice save percentages of the team. Only Blues prospect, Tanner Kaspick, has a worse relative on-ice save at 5v5.

He’s not awful defensively by any stretch, but for someone as active with his feet as he is, you’d hope that would result in fewer goals occurring in his own end.

 

DO SOMETHING:

Because I already asked him to “do something” last week — I’ll spare him tonight, even though he remains a high-priority “do something” candidate.

Tonight, let’s say we go with Will Lockwood for all the reasons stated above. He’s doing a bunch of little things right, but he’s gotta start proving he can do more than just skate well, hit, and steal the puck.

 

STARTING ROSTER:

Game 4 Starting Lineup
  • Curtis McKenzie is out reportedly due to “awesome news.” About 99% sure McKenzie’s wife was due with their first child, so congrats to him on a monumental weekend!
  • The lineup, outside of McKenzie, remains largely unchanged from Saturday.
  • Jon Gillies returns from a very brief stint on IR to act as tonight’s starting goalie.

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

GAME 4:

1st period:

PP1: Lind, Baertschi, Reinke, Walker, Anas

  • A couple of good shots on net from the Comets on PP1 — but no dice, they are forced to reset from their end, and PP2 comes out.

PP2: Focht, Santini, Jasek, Gadjovich, Stevens

  • Aleksi Hepponiemi leaves the rink during a TV timeout… a huge loss for Syracuse this early in the game.
  • A brutal shift for the Jasek line as they get pinned into their zone for quite some time; get caught icing the puck twice but eventually clear.
  • LOL, Syracuse exchanges with an icing of their own
  • Syracuse gets dinged for a trip with 1:50 left in the opening frame! Right off the draw

PP1: Reinke, Baertschi, Lind, Walker, Anas

2nd period:

  • Whoops, Nathan Walker called for slashing while defending in the d-zone, and the Comets are off their first PK of the night.

PK1: Santini, Tucker, Stevens, Joshua

  • Stevens wins the draw and clears for Utica.
  • Stevens and Joshua holding the Crunch to the neutral zone. Eventually, a puck gets deflected out of play and PK1 changes.

PK2: Jasek, Lockwood rotate in

  • Jasek and Lockwood clear, and Joshua and Stevens come back on.
  • Dakota Joshua (#11) draws a tripping penalty against Otto Somppi, and the Comets first PK ends about as well as a PK can
  • Focht, Gadjovich, Reinke, Woo out for the first 4v4 offensive-zone draw
  • Gadj gets caught up yelling at the ref on a perceived non-call in the offensive zone, allowing the Crunch to rush the opposite way for a shorthanded chance. Bit of a ding dong move
  • Comets to a minute-thirty powerplay

PP1: Lind, Reinke, Anas, Walker, Baertschi

  • [GOAL-UTICA-3-0 Comets] Wow…what a gorgeous pass from Sam Anas (#7) past two Crunch defenders, Ludvig and Witkowski, to set up Nathan Walker (#12) for his first of the season.

  • Focht gets called for cross-checking while defending a Syracuse rush into the d-zone, and the Comets are back to the penalty-kill
  • Joshua again proving to be a force on the Comets penalty kill. Just forechecking aggressively and eating away precious seconds off of the clock.
  • Comets kill off another PK — really keeping the Crunch to the outside and preventing them from generating any chances.
  • Focht (#19) with a breakaway chance right out of the penalty box! 
  • Refs call the LFG line for an intentional offside… Sir… this is the AHL…they’re not that calculated with their moves.
  • Josh Wesley (#24) bowls over Jimmy Huntington off the defensive zone-entry
  • Jasek with a steal in the offensive zone late but time winds down
  • Comets notch two goals on four shots
  • Crunch edge them in shots through the middle stanza, six-to-four

3rd period:

PK1: Joshua, Stevens, Santini, Tucker

RESULT:

COMETS WIN 5-2 IN REGULATION

SCORESHEET:

 

Game Thoughts:

  • A solid defensive effort from the Comets (ignoring the final ten minutes of the third period in which they were really put on their heels by the Crunch). Really limited the Crunch to their looks in the first two periods. Very rare to see low-event hockey in the AHL, let alone a two-goal on four-shots second period. Impressive work from a very young team!
  • Had a hearty chuckle at Lockwood and Gadjovich combining on that opening goal. It’s as if they knew what my “do something” section would be about them! Who knew!?
  • Props to Gadjovich, who, despite his underwhelming skating, had a pretty decent night when it came to TOI and production. Two goals on three shots and out for a closeout situation late in the period is good stuff for him!
  • Baertschi with a lowkey solid game. He was hustling all over the ice, especially in the d-zone to assist with breakouts. And believe it or not… he looked like an NHL caliber talent on the powerplay and at 5v5! Who knew!?
  • Shoutouts to St. Louis Blues properties, Tyler Tucker and Steven Santini, who are both chewing up defensive minutes for this team right now. Tucker especially, a rookie being trusted with upwards of 22-25 minutes a night, with the majority of those minutes exclusively coming at 5v5 or while shorthanded. Kids got a bright future if he keeps this up. Ended the night with one assist, a +3, and one shot on goal—a huge effort to close out the game.
  • Bit of a quiet night for Kole Lind. Not sure if it’s the move to center or the new linemates or the responsibilities of matching up against top-competition; but, he looked off tonight. He wasn’t floating by any stretch, but more often than not, I was noticing that he wasn’t touching or controlling the puck when he was on the ice.
  • I don’t know if any Canucks fans follow MMA or the UFC, but there used to be an organization called PRIDE FC in Japan. They were rad. But they had a completely different judging system to the standard American boxing method of scoring rounds 10 for the round-winner and nine or less for the round-loser. In Japan, they scored bouts by the whole. The first round was ten-minutes long, with a five-minute second round. So a fight could theoretically win the first eight minutes of the fight, but if the judges viewed that the opponent won the latter eight minutes more convincingly, they would win the fight more often than not. That’s what this game feels like when it comes to evaluation. The Comets were methodical in the way they picked the Crunch apart. For 50 minutes, they limited scoring chances and capitalized on their opportunities off of vicious forechecking. Then the final ten minutes happened…and it kind of clouds my evaluation of the team. Because they really looked brutal while on their heels.
    • An ECHL call-up moving from defence to forward in Dmitri Semykin gave the LFG line considerable fits in that final ten. Not a great look.
    • I’m willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt, however. Back to back, and up by three goals with ten minutes left… I get why the foot may have come off the pedal. It’s a bad lesson to learn, but I get it.
  • Props to Will Lockwood on a solid game. Utilized that speed and forechecking about as effectively as you could hope for. Really slick set-up for Gadjovich on that opening goal. Promising start for him!
  • Woo had that brutal giveaway on the Huntington goal, but it’s whatever; he had a great game up until that point. A learning experience for the young rookie!
  • Not many takeaways for them, but more strong games from Jasek, Focht and Anas. Consistently providing quality minutes to the team at evens and while shorthanded.

 

Comets Harvest Three Stars:

  1. Jonah Gadjovich
  2. Tyler Tucker & Steven Santini
  3. Will Lockwood

HM: see the last bullet-point in the game-thoughts

Next Up on the Docket:

The Comets are back in action tomorrow night for the second half of a back-to-back.

Once again, they’ll be up against it as they take on a well-rested team in the Rochester Americans, who have been waylaid since last Friday after cruising against the Cleveland Monsters in a 7-3 rout.

Plugs and Stuff:

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine at the Creasecast! Give us a follow on your go-to podcast platform and rate, like and subscribe to help us out!

And if you’re more of a visual person! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all of our podcasts in video form!

Cheers for tuning in, and I’ll catch you on the flippity flip.

Comets Harvest: The Utica Space Rocks vs. the Binghamton Satans

No song-lyric paragraph headers tonight, but Cody’s weekend vibes brought to you by Harbour.

Pre-Amble Stuff:

Don’t fret Canucks nation! Despite the Canucks six-game losing streak, there are, believe it or not, some things to be positive about!

    1. It’s freezing fucking cold.
    2. The local Timmy’s is fucking discontinuing long-john donuts.
    3. TSN1040 got ethered out of fucking nowhere by Bell Media (contact your local MP to get them inquiring about Bells abuse of the CEWS)
    4. Tyler Madden was called up to the fucking Kings taxi-squad.
    5. Troy Stecher is 19th among all NHL defencemen for Game-score value-added while on a pairing with Marc fucking Staal.

Wait… hang on… that didn’t come out right.

Let’s try this again! …there are, believe it or not, some things to be optimistic about!

  1. Quinn Hughes is 6th among all active skaters in points this season (17)
  2. Brock Boeser is 2nd among all active skaters in goals this season (10)
  3. Nils Höglander is 5th among all rookies in points (7)
  4. Comets Harvest favourite, Lukas Jasek, is leading the Comets in several metrics that he was awful in last season.
  5. Despite the scoreline of last Saturday’s game against the Syracuse Crunch, the youth of the Utica Comets are thriving when it comes to controlling shot-attempts

Times are brutal right now, and we must look to the little things to carry us through the day.

Speaking of the little things and that last note! I’ve tracked all of the little things from the Comets’ first two games and have some very early fun numbers to show off!

Top Line Struggles in Toughs:

The top-line of Baertschi, Lind, and Anas have struggled with controlling shot-attempts at 5v5.

This trio is spending most of their 5v5 TOI together. The Comets have a considerable lead in total shot-attempts with these three on the ice at 5v5, but, like the top-line of last season’s Utica Comets, they’ve struggled to keep attempts-against to a minimum.

Individually, their player cards are still pretty solid.

Baertschi, to the surprise of no one, leads the Comets in primary shot-assists at 5v5 but individually hasn’t generated much on net.

Lind currently leads the Comets in shot-attempts at 5v5 and is tied with Lukas Jasek and Sam Anas in goals-for percentage — contributing for two of the Comets’ four total goals scored this season.

Anas is still following his ‘AHL leading scorer’ pace from last season — Which is great! Hoping these three can start clicking a bit better at 5v5 and start capitalizing on their chances!

I do have to note that we shouldn’t glean too much from a two-game sample size, as their opponent, in that second game of a back-to-back, was coming in completely fresh and well-rested. So that top-line was facing top competition on tired legs.

Shot-Control Improvements:

All things considered, the Comets ended up churning out a reasonable effort while on tired hooves! Controlling shot-attempts at 5v5 in a loss is a good sign of progress!

Last season, the Comets controlled shot-attempts at 5v5 just 24 times out of 61 games. Yeah…it wasn’t pretty.

But when they lost, usually it was because they got out-attempted, badly. In fact, their first loss of last season, after going undefeated; that loss came after out-attempting their opponent! However, over their next 52 games, they lost an additional 26 times, and only out-attempted opponents in that spread EIGHT other times.

TLDR; The Comets of old were really bad at controlling shot-attempts.

While still just a two-game sample size…it’s a step in the right direction for a club that hasn’t played clean, defensively, for several seasons.

 

Tonight’s Things to Do:

Goaltending was a bit of an issue in Saturday’s game, which again is a shame because the Comets were genuinely dominating in shot-attempts and the puck-possession game. Jon Gillies is expected to be out with injury. Thus, Jake Kielly will be tasked with drastically improving on his Saturday performance as the de facto starter.

Evan Fitzpatrick, St. Louis’ other goalie they sent to the Comets, is a 2016 second-round draft pick who has put up less-than-impressive numbers in the ECHL over the past two seasons.

If Kielly can’t find his game, the Comets could be looking at another season similar to their 2018-19 campaign. A season that was largely forgettable due to how brutalized they were by injuries and how handicapped they were by goaltending. Ivan Kulbakov posted the most games played during that season, and the near-retired, 37-year-old Michael Leighton had the next best save percentage among goaltenders… fuck….it was BAD. 

After a week off, the Comets should be coming into this matchup against the Devils much better prepared structurally and physically.

The Binghamton Devils are playing their third game in six days; both games were comeback overtime wins by Binghamton.

The two teams stack closely on special-teams. Both have allowed one shorty while on the powerplay, but the Comets are marginally more successful on the man-advantage. Penalty-kill is a tie, but Comets have the lone shorthanded goal-for between the two teams.

The teams are pretty closely matched in that regard, so the Comets will have to capitalize on a potentially tired roster and hope they can make better use of their powerplay opportunities.

“Do stuff!”:

In honour of Jeff Patterson, his classic “do something” bit on the dear and departed TEAM1040 afternoon-drive program with Matt Sekeres and Blake Price; Figured I’d adopt something that should be applied to the kids on the farm!

  • Jonah Gadjovich could afford to stand out and do something to stick out. He has one of the Comets’ only four goals, but he needs to be a bit more active in making something happen. I don’t think taking the passenger-seat to Carson Focht every shift is necessarily a good look for him at this stage of his career.

 

Roster Things:

  • Cull going with two brand new d-pairings while re-jigging his fourth line. Fair enough, as the Arseneau, Kaspick, Stevens combo got brutalized by Syracuse. Posting a negative shot-control rate while generating just 3 shot-attempts as a line.
  • Stevens to the second line with McKenzie and Jasek could be interesting. Stevens was one of the better parts of that fourth-line in game two. He displayed a decent work rate, so it could be a proper fit.
  • Josh Teves continues to not earn the trust of his head coach. Honestly, I think he and Reinke are just an awful pairing. I don’t necessarily think their struggles are all on Teves, nor are they all on Reinke… just a bad pairing between two dudes prone to playing aggressively in the offensive zone while also being prone to throwing the puck away
  • John Stevens slides into tonight’s lineup; he won’t be playing on a line with his brother, Nolan, but still pretty neat! He was a pretty solid pick up by the Comets last season.
    • Comets got him in exchange for an injured ECHL forward, who ended up not playing another game that season.
  • Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch reported that both Nathan Walker and Jon Gillies were dealing with lingering injuries.
  • Gillies, on the other hand, as previously stated, could be a death-knell to a team, which historically plays a system that demands a reliable goaltender.

Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

 

Don’t feel like reading? Click here for spoilers!!

Game Stuff:

1st period

  • Comets playing in Newark, NJ, in an arena that is literally right beside the New Jersey Devils home barn, Prudential Center
  • Rush-chance for Binghamton right off the hop — Steve Santini (#8) caught deep in the neutral-zone, and Tyler Tucker (#2) and Dakota Joshua (#16) get tangled along the left-wing, leaving Fabian Zetterlund wide open on the Comets right side
  • The camera feels way too close to the ice… it will be tough tracking this one
  • Gadjovich eats a hit in the neutral-zone, allegedly, I wouldn’t know because the camera-angle obscured the view
  • John Stevens, Hugh McGing, and Dakota Joshua with a solid forecheck in the offensive zone for the Comets
  • Josh Wesley (#24) lays a hit
  • Curtis McKenzie registers the Comets second shot, 4.5 minutes in, then on the ensuing faceoff, Binghamton takes a slashing penalty! Comets to the Peeper

PP1: Reinke, Baertschi, Lind, Anas, Stevens

  • [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Kole Lind (#13) capitalizes early with a rocket of a one-timer past Aaron Dell. Quick work and a beautiful no-look pass from Sam Anas (#7)

PK1: Joshua, Santini, J. Stevens, Tucker

PK2: Woo, Lockwood, Reinke, McKenzie

  • Sam Anas (#7) draws a slashing call working down the right side, and the Comets are back onto the powerplay
  • [GOAL – UTICA – 3-1 Comets] Is Kole Lind (#13) Reid Boucher now? Sven Baertschi (#47) enters the zone then plays give-and-go with Nolan Stevens (#17). Baertschi (#47) with an absolutely nasty cross-ice feed to Lind for the one-timer.

2nd period

  • More forechecking pressure from the Comets early but quickly, the Binghamton Devils start forcing the Comets into their zone
  • [GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 3-2 Comets] Wellp, the Comets lead gets cut down to one goal. Not really sure what Steven Santini (#8) was thinking, leaving the middle of the ice open for Mikhail Maltsev. Gadjovich’s (#21) backcheck leaves A LOT to be desired too. Second time in as many games that Kielly has let a puck squeak through him, but you need much better coverage than that.
  • Devils trying to take over with pressure in the Comets zone
  • [GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 3-3 Tie] Yikes. For the third time in three games, the Binghamton Devils have rallied to come back from a deficit. Will they again win in overtime? I don’t know, but the Comets have just given up a two-goal lead in a five-minute span… Kielly with a clear line-of-sight on this shot from Michael Vukojevic. Yikes…
  • Comets looking a little fresher as they approach the ten-minute mark of the second
  • Comets getting pinned into their zone again — Danick Martel skates into Sven Baertschi while carrying the puck, and the Comets are off to their second penalty kill

PK1: Wesley, Woo, Stevens, Joshua

  • [GOAL – UTICA – 4-3 Comets] In his first game in the lineup, John Stevens (#16) scores shorthanded for the Comets to regain the lead. Stevens and Dakota Joshua (#11) race in on a two-on-one, where Joshuas shot rolls off Aaron Dell’s pads and sits in the crease. Stevens capitalizes, and this game keeps getting crazier

PP1: Lind, Reinke, Baertschi, Stevens, Anas

  • PP1 loses the draw and then have trouble regaining the zone to set up
  • OOOH, spicy! Travis St. Denis takes a tripping minor along the blue line — Comets off to a minute-long 5v3… PP1 had just changed off, but they come back out on the two-man advantage
  • Can’t make anything happen on the 5-on-3. Thomas leaves the box, and it’s back to a regular 5v4
  • Wellp, nevermind, Baertschi takes his second minor penalty of the game in a battle along the boards. Brief 4v4 followed by a penalty-kill
  • [GOAL – BINGHAMTON – 4-4 Tie] Uh, ok. Nikita Okhotiuk blows past Curtis McKenzie (#81) at the blue line, then turns on the afterburners towards Kielly. Kielly hugs the post but makes himself a bit too small. Okhotiuk lasers the puck past Kielly, and we are back to a tie game. Following this, the Comets are onto a penalty-kill… huge potential momentum shift in the works.
  • Baertschi tries to send in Will Lockwood with a pass and arguably should’ve drawn a penalty, but the refs are particular about their calls suddenly.
  • Canucks youth battling along the d-zone endboards to close out the period. 
  • Messy period, but a fun one nonetheless
  • Devils outshoot the Comets 11-8 through the middle frame

3rd period

PP1: Lind, Reinke, Baertschi, Stevens, Anas

PP2: Santini, Focht, Woo, Jasek, Gadjovich

  • lmao, Martel penalty ends, and Woo takes an interference penalty while finishing a check in the defensive zone
  • Comets to the PK with five minutes remaining

PK1: Tucker, Santini, Joshua, J. Stevens

PK2: Jasek, Wesley, Eliot, McKenzie

PK1: John Stevens, Santini, Tucker

Overtime

1st trio: Anas, Lind, Reinke

  • Lind loses the draw — Maltsev looking fast with the open space

2nd trio: Baertschi, Jasek, Santini

3rd trio: Woo, Focht, McKenzie

Shootout

RESULT:

COMETS WIN IN THE SHOOTOUT 6-5

SCORESHEET:

 

Game Thoughts and Things:

  • What a fun game if you’re a hockey fan. Coaches will certainly hate the lack of discipline, the momentum shifts, giving up the lead four times in 60 minutes, the missed assignments… but hey, a wins a win!
  • Solid opening frame! A fantastic forechecking effort from all four lines that drew two penalties and created three goals.
  • The second period was messy as all hell! Two penalties, three goals against. Were it not for that shorthanded goal from John Stevens, this game really could have gone off the rails.
  • That third period though, holy moly, a lot of tape to go over with the squad after that one. Five completely unnecessary penalties were given up to a team that was clearly generating tons of momentum.
  • As I said earlier, this game will be a goaltending battle and likely the season at large. At least two of the Devils’ goals tonight were very saveable. Comets definitely need someone like Gillies to be healthy. Not that it matters, what with there being no Calder Cup and all! Kielly came up huge for the team in overtime and the shootout, but his second period left a lot to be desired.
  • Jonah Gadjovich did not “do something.” Skating looked atrocious on that one backcheck. Didn’t see him too much in the latter parts of the game. Players like Focht, Lockwood, and Joshua providing much more utility and value to Cull.
  • Lockwood was floating a bit in his first two games, and while he was floating a bit in the first period, he really seemed to have it click in the second and third periods. Really was a momentum changer having him on the ice at 5v5. Love his tenacity on the puck and his skating. Backcheck on a few plays gave me Zack MacEwen vibes. Hands and offence still leave a lot to be desired, but he does many of the little things right, which we love to see.
  • Carson Focht, another solid effort tonight and gets rewarded with his first pro goal. Ended the game tied with Kole Lind for shots on goal. Liking what I see so far from him.
  • That first line had a much better performance tonight. Chemistry really coming along nicely on those first two goals from their line.
  • Curtis McKenzie had a pretty rough night. He was not nearly as active on pucks as he had been in the two games prior. Coughed up a lot of giveaways, which wasn’t helping his line in the slightest. Had serious trouble on that Okhotiuk goal that tied things up for Binghamton to close the second period.
  • Shoutouts to the Stevens brothers, who had themselves really great games. Active on the forecheck early and scored two important goals to break the tie.
  • Jett Woo, outside of his interference penalty, had a fantastic game. Lowkey very impressed by his puck distribution game. Never appeared to shy away from board battles, scrums, or hits. He was a huge difference-maker for them tonight. Hope to see more consistent performances like this, and maybe he starts putting up some points!
  • Kole Lind’s shot looks very good. So far, he’s been kind of a one-period goalscorer. Would like to see him prove he can produce outside of when he’s at his most fresh.
  • Steve Santini had a couple good hits but otherwise missed a couple assignments and took an incredibly stupid penalty to cripple the Comets late in the third.
  • Not a Canucks property, but Tucker looked excellent tonight at both ends of the ice.
  • Tough night for Comets Harvest favourite Lukas Jasek. He had a couple good looks on goal but kept missing the net. Was giving away the puck a bit more than usual
  • Liking this combo of Blues and Canucks prospects. They’ve meshed quite well together and have a pretty good distribution of goals and assists from both teams’ players. It’ll be kind of fun if these guys graduate to the NHL and end up playing each other someday.

 

Three Stars and Stuff:

  1. Kole Lind
  2. The Stevens’ brothers
  3.  Carson Focht

HM: Jett Woo and Sam Anas

 

Next Things on the Docket:

The Comets are back in action this Wednesday/Thursday when they finally play a home game against the Syracuse Crunch, followed by another road game against Rochester.

As of this moment, the Crunch are down 1-zip to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Rochester Americans will be a tough game Thursday. Once again, the Comets will be finishing a back-to-back against an opponent playing after weeks of rest. Rochester last played Cleveland on Friday in a 7-3 victory.

Plugs and Stuff:

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine of Lachinthecrease.com! Give the Creasecast a follow on your go-to podcast platform, rate, like and subscribe!

And if you’re more of a video guy! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all our casts in video form!

Cheers, everyone, for reading along! Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their long weekend!

 

 

 

 

COMETS HARVEST 3.2: The Utica Cocoa Comets vs. Syracuse Peanut Butter Crunch

Tonight’s paragraph headers brought to you by Set Your Goals

Who Are You to Say What is Real?

Soak it in Canucks fans. As the great Skinny Elizabeth once said, “the Boys are in fact back in town.”

Kings of the castle, the Comets/Blues rampage look to shake off a bit more rust as they run it back against the Syracuse Crunch, a rematch of their exhibition game on February 1st that ended in a 7-5 victory for the Comets.

While there are still a ton of kinks to work out of their game, all things considered, they were impressive against Rochester.

 

And What is Fake?

Just like to point out that the Comets running a PK composed almost exclusively of U25 players (and Steven Santini) killed 4/5 Rochester powerplays.

That’s pretty good! Almost… too good…

In past Harvest’s, I’ve argued that the Utica Comets stand to better develop their youth by putting them into shorthanded situations more often.

The NHL is an efficiency contest; having prospects developing in your AHL system is a part of that efficiency. Having undrafted free agents and prospects joining your farm to ply their trade is meaningless if they aren’t ever going to be tested.

Jonah Gadjovich playing three PK shifts in his debut year does not count as being tested. The Canucks need to see what they’ve got in their prospects. Otherwise, they will be eternally doomed into signing overpaid veteran UFA’s specifically for penalty-killing purposes.

Last night was a step in the right direction — Will Lockwood, Carson Focht, and Jett Woo getting PK time should earn Trent Cull kudos for doing something that he otherwise wouldn’t do during a normal AHL season.

But it can’t be like Gadjovich’s rookie year. Cull needs to play these kids on the PK all year! Canucks can’t be waiting until the final year of their prospects current deals to realize they have no idea if they have the utility or ability to play shorthanded **cough** Gaudette, Virtanen, Lind **cough**

Seattle Expansion draft looms like a dark cloud over the Canucks right now — Lind looks like a very tasty pick-up option for Seattle if the Canucks cannot protect him or choose not to.

Hoping to see Lind get some shorthanded minutes this season starting tonight. Canucks need to see everything their top AHL-prospects can offer to their current NHL bottom-six.

Criticism aside, it’s good to see one special team firing for the Comets. Their powerplay was really not great looking last night.

And Who Here Matters Anyway?

Tonight’s starting lineup is mostly unchanged save for a few substitutions and promotions.

 

  • Will Lockwood gets bumped up to the second line with Jasek/McKenzie. Should be a good fit for him; playing with two AHL vets
  • Nathan Walker gets slid down to the Gadjovich/Focht line; looks like Cull is mostly trying to distribute the experience between all four lines.
  • Blues prospect, Tanner Kaspick, replaces fellow Blues prospect Hugh McGing, as the center to the fourth line. No real loss.
  • The defence goes largely unchanged, but Josh Wesley replaces Mitch Eliot, who didn’t look all that great yesterday.

Don’t care for the details? Click here for spoilers!!

It’s Nothing That I Haven’t Heard

1st Period:

  • Florida Panthers prospect Sam Montembault, in net for the Crunch. A reminder that the Florida teams have also amalgamated their farm teams this season
  • Early slashing penalty called after the 1st line takes a spin in the offensive zone

PP1 – Lind, Baertschi, Anas, Reinke, Walker

  • [GOAL-SYRACUSE – 1-0 Crunch] LMAO… damn, this team plays just like the Canucks! Nine seconds into the powerplay, Kole Lind (#13) loses the faceoff draw, but Sven Baertschi (#47) slides in to recover and attempt a drop pass to Sam Anas (#7). Bae’s pass ricochet’s off a skate to Gabriel Fortier, who wheels down the left-wing. Mitch Reinke (#28) attempts to get back and defend, but he misses the pass to Boris Katchouk. After Reinke turns to keep pace with the possessor, Katchouk easily backhands a pass to Fortier, who flips it over Kielly’s right pad… Brutal start.

  • PP1 gets nothing going, so PP2 comes out

PP2 – Gadjovich, Focht, Stevens, Jasek, Santini

  • A long shift for PP2, but they’re getting nothing going. Nolan Stevens looking very slow.
  • Comets register zero shots — then as the powerplay ends, Tanner Kaspick takes a hooking penalty.

PK1 – Jasek, Santini, Tucker, McKenzie

PK2 – Lockwood, Woo, Teves, Stevens

PK3 – Lind, Baertschi, Woo, Wesley

2nd Period:

PP1 – Lind, McKenzie, Baertschi, Reinke, Anas

  • Crunch with another shorthanded two-on-one opportunity, but Reinke breaks up the cross-ice pass.
  • PP1 struggling to generate offence — Crunch kill 51 seconds off the clock
  • Jasek (#9) and Santini (#8) trying to maintain the zone but can’t do it
  • Walcott out of the box — powerplay still struggling to generate chemistry
  • Comets ice the puck. Tanner Kaspick forces his check out of the zone with the puck off the ensuing draw but goes a little too ham and takes a tripping penalty.
  • Comets to the PK

PK1 – Jasek, McKenzie, Tucker, Santini

  • [GOAL – UTICA – 4-1 Crunch] Fantastic effort from Jasek (#9) to get the Comets on the board. Jasek starts it off by deflecting down a point-shot. Jasek then settles the puck and throws on the afterburners to give him and McKenzie (#81) a two-on-one opportunity. Jasek reaches around a sliding Chase Priskie with the centering feed to McKenzie (#81), who tips it past Montembeault.

  • Syracuse powerplay stifled by the Comets penalty-killers to close out the period.
  • Comets outshoot the Crunch twelve-to-nine this time around, but man, are they up against it heading into the third

3rd Period:

PK1 – Kaspick, Baertschi, Tucker, Santini

  • Cull must’ve got the note that the Canucks need someone with top-six skill who can penalty-kill…because Bae on the PK is certainly something.
  • Bae and Kaspick force the puck out of the zone and kill time off Lockwood’s penalty — allowing Teves and Wesley to step on for Tucker/Santini.

PK2 – Jasek, Stevens, Reinke, Woo

PP1 – Lind, Aanas, Baertschi, Reinke, McKenzie

  • Yeah, PP1 really is missing something — absolutely nothing to it.

PP2 – Jasek, Gadjovich, Stevens, Focht, Santini

 

RESULT:

SCORESHEET:

 

 

We’re All Sellouts in Your Eyes

  • before I get in my takeaways, make sure you check out my hit with Locked On Canucks where I talk all things Jalen Chatfield and Kole Lind, with Justin Morissette

 

That’s No Surprise

  • Comets looked exhausted against a fresh opponent — The first-line, in particular, started hot but quickly looked gassed as the first period progressed. Don’t think it was from deployment either. Just outright exhaustion from back-to-back nights. Have to get used to it as the Comets have several more back-to-backs this season.
  • Loved Lukas Jasek’s hustle in what was essentially a lost game. He has so many solid attributes to his game, but that step to make his game work at the NHL level is such a big one. Just look at Jalen Chatfield. Game kind of worked at the AHL level, and he got absolutely embarrassed tonight by the Maple Leafs. He continues to be one of the Canucks better two-way prospects with excellent utility. But his game is so quietly solid that I don’t even think they know he’s in their system. Shame. I really enjoy watching him play.
  • Lockwood looked a little disengaged tonight. Have to wonder how much of tonight’s performance from him and others were fatigue relating to the back-to-back. Had a couple good shifts where he was on but needs to be more consistent. Not enough foot movement for me. Good edges, but he needs to move his feet way more to be effective here.
  • This Reinke/Teves pairing is just awful. Teves has wheels, but he’s just lost with the puck at most times. He and Reinke have no chemistry, and it’s constantly a battle between the two for, “who can give the puck away first?” Constantly a disaster in their own end for coverage and breaking out while under pressure.
  • Baertschi was mostly invisible tonight. Didn’t look engaged. Again, see my above point about lethargy and back-to-back play against a rested team.
  • Kole Lind looked sharp early but quickly gassed.
  • Carson Focht is someone to watch in future games — good wheels and passing. Consistently making good passes under pressure.
  • Jett Woo had himself a really good game for the Comets — he looked more comfortable than he did the other night. Consistent breakout passes and defensive coverage. Didn’t see a lot of him late in the game as Cull relied heavily on Tucker/Santini to get the team going. But, a promising improvement!
  • Gadjovich a little sleepy at 5v5 early but was noticeable on the powerplay every shift — sneaky good passing game. Hopefully, he, Focht, and Walker or whoever they put with them can generate some kind of chemistry.
  • Sam Montembeault was a hero for the Crunch tonight — likely prevented multiple goals against. Comets threw some of their best looks his way, and it wasn’t good enough. Those nights will happen. It’ll just be about how they bounce-back
  • Jake Kielly looked OK, but like the Canucks do with Holtby/Demko, he was left hung out to dry multiple times. Arguably could’ve been worse than 6-1, which is saying something.
  • Tyler Tucker had a much better game tonight. He’s not a Canucks prospect, so it’s whatever, but Blues fans should be happy knowing he didn’t look as lost as he did in game 1. Loved his hip-check late in the game, haha.
  • Comets’ powerplay just absolutely stunk tonight. Five opportunities and it was a godsend for them to just maintain the zone with possession. It was pure ass. Hopefully, it’s just an exhaustion thing and not something to expect every game… because, oh boy, that was tough to watch.
  • Really happy to see Trent Cull sticking with his youth on the PK. Woo should get all the looks possible on the PK, as should Lind, Focht, Lockwood, and Gadjovich. The latter whom has still yet to get a look on the PK for some reason.

 

Well, we Never Tried to Disguise Everything we Want to be

  • Sam Montembeault  (No Comet deserved first star honours tonight)
  • Lukas Jasek
  • Tyler Tucker

HM: Sam Anas for his team-leading five shots on goal

My Honest Dream

The Comets get plenty of time to work out the kinks and try something new. As they get a seven-day break between games.

They’ll be back Saturday, February 13th, against the Binghamton Devils — this is great for me as I get more time to painstakingly track stats from the past two games, haha.

 

Who Cares What You Have to Say?

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine of Lachinthecrease.com! Give the Creasecast a follow on your go-to podcast platform, rate, like and subscribe!

And if you’re more of a video guy! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all our casts in video form!

Cheers, everyone, for reading along! Happy to have you here, and with the Comets Harvest for the latest and greatest in Canucks AHL development!

 

COMETS HARVEST 3.1: The Utica Blues v. the Rochester Amerks

Bring It All Back Now

331 days ago, the Comets concluded their 2019-20 campaign with one of their worst performances.

After scoring the game’s opening goal, a powerplay tally from Justin Bailey, the Comets gave up three straight, all in a very “2021 Canucks”-like manner.

First, poor defensive coverage from Mitch Eliot and John Stevens at 5v5 to tie the game.

Second, Luke Witkowski picks off Kole Lind’s pass in the neutral zone during the Comets breakout attempt, wheels around ECHL Call-up, Matt Petgrave, and dances on goal to gain the lead.

And finally, the Comets, pressuring in the offensive zone, lose possession of the puck, and the Crunch capitalize by breaking out and rushing into the Comets end. A pitiful display of coverage around the net leaves a wide-open Boris Katchouk to seal the deal.

The Comets season ended on a sour note.

But they did get a smidgeon of redemption when they played the Crunch in an exhibition game earlier this week.

On display was the familiar goal-scoring prowess that Comets fans are used to. Only this time, it wasn’t Reid Boucher leading the way; it was non-other than the guy that nobody was taking:

Kole Lind.

With two goals and two assists in a single exhibition game. One has to wonder if Lind took it personally that he didn’t crack the Canucks taxi-squad and is going to make them rue the day that the team that took Kole Lind didn’t take Kole Lind!

 

Don’t Stop, Never Give Up

Kole Lind’s growth over the last two seasons has been insane. A testament to why you can’t give up on a player too early.

Lind parlayed a brutal rookie campaign into a standout sophomore comeback of the year season, to an impressive return-to-play camp that had people pegging him as a Black Ace, and to another decent pre-season, which resulted in some fans pre-emptively pulling hairs trying to protect him from Seattle!

Yes, Lind has a lot on his plate this season — not only is he playing to establish himself as a forward that the Canucks need in their 2021-22 starting roster, but he’ll be trying to do so while adjusting to his new position as a top-six center.

But! Lind won’t be given a plastic knife and fork for said plate! Looks like he’ll be sharing the majority of his 5v5 minutes with two quad-A talents in Sam Anas and Sven Baertschi. Baertschi, as we know is wonderful, and deserved better. On his other side is Anas (Anne-iss), who was the AHL’s leading scorer last season with the Iowa Wild. Anas net twenty goals and FIFTY assists. So yeah, good company for Lind to ply his trade!

On top of good company, Lind will be maximizing his TOI with PP1 and light PK duty! AKA all of the opportunity available to prove his value and utility to the Canucks organization (or any other organization) moving forward.

For what it’s worth, in his brief looks at center last season, I thought Lind’s skill set as a tenacious puck-distributor and agitator was not out of place. In fact, I wondered why Lind hadn’t been moved to center full-time earlier!

Lind has found a way to impress and improve on a year to year basis. He doubled his 5v5 assist rate while managing the third-best shot-control rate on a team that was horrific at controlling shot-attempts.

It should be a fun season to watch him grow and adapt to his new role.

If his play in the exhibition game against Syracuse translates into tonight’s game against the Rochester Americans, then we could be looking at a player who, like Zack MacEwen before him, forces the Canucks’ hands and leaves them no choice but to make space for him, two-week quarantine period be damned.

Hold your head high and reach the top

The Comets schedule this season will be absolutely wild to watch unfold.

Hell, we already had a scrap in an exhibition game between the Comets and Crunch!

The Comets start their season tonight in a first of FOURTEEN games series (first to eight, wins? I guess?) against the Rochester Americans, the Amerks, as the kids say down in the ‘Ca (That’s Cody slang for Utica)

Without a Calder Cup pencilled in, there isn’t much to play for other than ice-time and development. Which is great for this young amalgamated St. Louis/Vancouver farm team. Not so much for the vets who might be in it for the glory of a championship!

Execs haven’t quite ruled out a Calder Cup or divisional cup occurring after this abbreviated season, however, so something to look forward to, at least!

 

Let the world see what you have got

Tonight’s starting lineup brought to you by [insert sponsor here // money me now]:

Looks like an even distribution between St. Louis players and Vancouver players!

Forwards

Defence

Goalies
Healthy Scratches:

John Stevens, Nolan Stevens (brothers btw), Tanner Kaspick, Robby Jackson, Jake Kielly, Josh Wesley

 

  • That first line is about as stacked as it gets for this incredibly miniaturized AHL North Division. Expecting fireworks from them tonight!
  • Jasek between two experienced vets will be promising as well.
  • That third line from the Comets is about as “development as it gets.” Gadjovich has the most AHL experience with 81 games played. Joshua split time with the ECHL and AHL last season after four years in the NCAA. Focht, as we know, is making his pro-debut after signing with the Canucks on January 6th.
  • The Amerks’ starting roster tonight features ten forwards and seven defencemen. Have to think that is COVID-related. But fingers crossed it isn’t because I can’t handle another hockey shutdown.

Don’t care for the details? Click here for spoilers!!

Bring It All Back to You:

1st period:

PK1 – Santini, Focht, Joshua, Tucker

  • Considering how long I’ve been begging Cull to play the kids on the PK… I’m SHOCKED to see Focht on PK1

PK2 – McKenzie, Teves, Woo, Jasek

  • see previous point
  • Smooth PK for the Comets, heavily limit the Amerks chances with timely blocks and clears
  • [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Kole Lind MIGHT have taken the AHL placement personally. Baertschi (#47) hands off to Sam Anas (#7), who cruises through the neutral-zone before passing back to Bae. Bae goes to his left for Lind (#13), who absolutely rifles a shot over Tokarski’s glove side.

PK1 – Santini, Tucker, Jasek, McKenzie

PK2 – Lockwood, Woo, Teves, Joshua

PK3 – McKenzie, McGing, Tucker, Santini

  • Saw this a lot last season, with all of the Comets planting their feet and letting their opponent cycle the puck along the end-boards without resistance. Good hit from Tucker (#2) but no follow-up battle to try and clear the puck from anyone on this shift.
  • [GOAL – ROCHESTER- 1-1 Tie] Turns out, standing still and letting your opponent move the puck at will is a bad thing! Who’d have thought!? Amerks’ work the puck back to Matthias Samuelsson, who blasts a one-timer off of Gillies, who makes the initial stop. The uncontrolled rebound gets picked up by Dominic Franco, who throws one between Gillies legs. A completely unchallenged Patrick McGrath gets the easy tap-in to seal it.

  • Amerks rattle off a few more shots to close out the final few seconds
  • Good start for the Comets — but they looked gassed in the second-half a bit
  • Out-shot 12 to 3 after the first twenty minutes… yikes

2nd period:

  • Dang, an early penalty against the Amerks’ lone goalscorer, Patrick McGrath. A good early opportunity for the Comets here to generate some momentum

PP1 – Lind, Anas, Baertschi, Reinke, Walker

  • Ahhhhhhhhhhh — Reinke (#28) hits Anas (#7) with a pass with a bit too much steam on it. The puck goes off Anas’ skate, and the Amerks’ get a shorthanded rush opportunity from it.
  • PP1 re-enters but shortly after sends the puck over the glass

PP2- Gadjovich, Jasek, McGing, Focht, Santini

PP1 – Reinke, Lind, Walker, Baertschi, Anas

  • PP1 puts themselves offside after losing the zone, and Cull quickly rolls out PP2

PP2 – McKenzie, McGing, Santini, Jasek, Focht

3rd period:

PK1 – McKenzie, Jasek, Teves, Reinke

PK2 – Woo, Lockwood, Joshua, Tucker

  • Amerks cycling well, but Comets young PK groups doing well to thwart the Amerks’ chances.
  • Wow, as I finish that thought, the Amerks put one off the inside of the post and out!
  • Amerks pull Tokarski with 1 minute left in regulation.
  • Comets kill down the clock.
  • Comets crush the Amerks in shots: 16-5 over the final twenty.

RESULT:

Comets Win in regulation: 3-2

scoresheet:

 

Don’t you know it’s true what they say

  • Messy first game — lots of turnovers and back-and-forth breakaway action from both teams. But Utica comes away with a win to start a very bizarre season!
  • Kole Lind still hasn’t worked on the whole “keep your head up” thing. Drew a penalty tonight after taking a hit to the shoulder, but man, the kid just puts his head down way too much for my liking.
  • Glad the team woke up after a pretty rough first period where they got absolutely shelled. Wonder if Trent Cull said, “who are you guys trying to play like? The Canucks!? Cause that’s not going to cut it here in the AHL!”
  • Always a fan of Lukas Jasek’s game — he looked infinitely more comfortable out there as a center. Wonder if playing 18 games in the Czech league as a bottom-six center helped his confidence a bit? Great sense on that Gadjovich goal to pounce on the loose puck, then knowing that Gadj would move down into position properly. Good start for him in his 3rd AHL season as he remains one of the Canucks better utility forwards. Skating might hinder him a bit, but he looked like a seasoned vet out there tonight.
  • Carson Focht has speed. Really didn’t know what to expect from him, to be completely honest. If he manages to use his speed to beat defenders outside like he did tonight, then he could be a pretty useful piece to this team.
  • Will Lockwood was pretty quiet tonight — threw a couple hits, played on the PK, showed off his edges, but his offensive game didn’t ever really stick out. He had a great look, at one point, where he used his speed to break down the right side, only to hit the brakes and settle for a weak shot off the blocker. Cull needs to give him the green light to try and solo on these plays when they present themselves.
  • D core was a mess. Fortunately for them, they had Jon Gillies bailing them out of a brutal first period and a dozen or so dangerous chances in the final 2/3rds of the game. Santini was the standout, and that’s obviously from experience.
    • Jett Woo looked okay. Had a few moments where he played the body and completely ignored the puck — which gave the Amerks a few opportunities around the crease
    • Tyler Tucker kept joining the rush and playing forward, but he does not have the wheels to be doing such things that often. Looked slow on his backcheck.
    • Josh Teves has speed and good skating, but man, his passing and IQ with the puck are severely lacking. He was still arguably one of the better Comets D tonight in spite of that.
    • Mitch Eliot went mostly unnoticed save for a few times where he outright could not keep up with his man around the d-zone. Didn’t get to uncork his bomb of a shot at all, which speaks to where he spent most of his night
    • Reinke was a giveaway machine. Kind of like Teves but a bit better with coverage around the net. Played a good chunk of the minutes tonight, including PP1 and PK1 duty
  • Gadjovich skating looked pretty good and was engaged on every shift. Had a couple of moments where he stopped moving his feet on the backcheck and alarm bells went off in my head… but I had to remember that this is their 2nd piece of game action in 330 days, so I can’t fault them for being gassed. Created a lot of chances off the rush, which is really saying something about his skating… or it’s saying something about the quality of AHL defense this season. I’ll say the former because I want to remain positive about his chances at elevating his stock this season.
  • Sam Anas looks good… like really good… He has speed, good passing, shot, vision — he’s a 0.76 points-per-game player in the AHL and hasn’t even whiffed an NHL opportunity. Yes, small sample size Cody, calm down. But I wonder if it’s just his stature that’s preventing teams from giving him a look. I thought he was pretty dynamic!
    • Giant asterisk — Cody is a huge mark for the short kings.
  • Hugh McGing isn’t a Canucks prospect, but I just have to point out that his name is fun to say. He looked a little rough at times, got stood up at the blue line a couple times and lost the puck in his feet a few times.

 

That life, it ain’t easy

 

Can I just say that for an $80USD service, that the AHL really needs to train its AV folks on what “white-balancing” and “levels” are?

I shouldn’t have to wear shades to watch a game because the ice is completely blown out on screen.

I should also not be going deaf every time an awful 80’s Van Halen song gets blasted through the in-arena speakers.

C’mon folks! This is basic stuff here!

 

But your time’s coming around

Cody’s three stars of the night

  1. Kole Lind – 2G – 0A – 4 shots
  2. Sam Anas – 0G – 2A – 2 shots
  3. Jon Gillies – 25 saves on 27 shots against

Honourable Mentions: Dakota Joshua, Jonah Gadjovich

 

So don’t you stop tryin’

The Comets are in for a quick turnaround when they play the Syracuse Crunch in game one of the “Galaxy Bowl.”

The boys in Blue/Green/White, Black/Yellow, and sometimes Purple Urban Camo already have the mental-edge after their crushing 7-5 exhibition victory on February 1st

Can they repeat the ‘W’ and move that “technical” success into factual success!? Find out tomorrow night!

 

[Chorus Reprise]

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for your daily dose of memes, sarcasm, stats, and both Comets and Canucks gameday clips!

You can also catch me on Podcast format with Lachlan Irvine of Lachinthecrease.com! Give the Creasecast a follow on your go-to podcast platform, rate, like and subscribe!

And if you’re more of a video guy! You can check out the Youtube channel, where we upload all our casts in video form!

Cheers everyone, thanks for coming back after a long and arduous 2020. Happy to have you here, and with the Comets Harvest as we cover the latest and greatest in Canucks AHL development!