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!

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