COMETS HARVEST: ROCHE5TER @ UTICA

Admirable Bone-to-pick:

So was everyone going to keep watching me pump out charts with the wrong season listed for the entire year without saying anything!?

This entire time, I had been posting charts dated 2019-20?!?!

“Why didn’t anyone tell me!? I’ve been making an idiot out of myself!”

 

THE SEASON IS A FLAT CIRCLE:

The Comets are back in action this week for their first 3-in-4 of the season!

And I bet you anything that you could guess who their opponents are!

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.

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Did you guess one of the Rochester Americans or the Syracuse Crunch!?

‘Cause if you did? You got it!

 

The carousel of playing the same teams over and over again, as though time were a flat circle, continues.

They don’t play someone other than Syracuse or Binghamton until April 3rd when they take on the Providence Bruins.

It is almost exclusively Syracuse/Rochester for the entire season.

It’s a really… really unfortunate schedule.

I have to throw asterisks on all the stats I’m keeping this season by saying, “oh yeah, these shot-control rates came from playing the same 40-50 players for 90% of the season.”

But, because the Comets Harvest cares about the little things and the little developments, we persevere.

Tonight, the Comets, sans Jon Gillies AND Kole Lind, will look to avenge last week’s loss. A tall order for a young group.

Lind took a high-stick at the tail-end of last Wednesday’s game that split his face open pretty good. That infraction put the Comets on an extended 5-on-3 powerplay where Jack Rathbone picked up his first goal of the season.

The powerplay was absolutely atrocious for the Comets last Wednesday. Picking up just that one goal from Rathbone in eight opportunities. I’m not sure how much better it will look tonight without Kole Lind in the Boucher spot either.

Ironically, at 5v5, the Comets controlled play exceedingly well. Their volume approach generated a PLUS-38 shot-attempt differential at 5v5.

Unfortunately, their goaltending was not up to snuff.

Jon Gillies has been Solid for the Comets this season, but the two goals he allowed last Wednesday weren’t great.

The first was a point shot was the only one you couldn’t fault him on. Screened by three skaters and tipped in the middle to go high over his glove side. The dude had no idea a shot was even coming.

The second was a backbreaker. Can’t be allowing squeakers like this while on the man-advantage.

The third was just Gillies looking completely lost in his crease and allowing Rochester an easy tap-in goal. No need to swim. Just plant.

The Comets will be starting either Jake Kielly or one of the Blues rookies, Joel Hofer or Evan Fitzpatrick.

A fact that segues nicely into a major issue currently making the rounds in the Canuck-o-sphere thanks to Kevin Woodley and his appearance on the latest Vancast.

DI PIETRO NEEDS GAMES!

The Canucks goaltending agreement with St. Louis has currently seen Jon Gillies take on the lion’s share of starts.

Gillies is a 27-year-old AHL tweener who is a prime 3rd string candidate for St. Louis.

Jake Kielly is 24-years-old likely an ECHL-AHL tweener who doesn’t really factor into the Canucks short-term or long-term plans.

Evan Fitzpatrick is 23-years-old on the end of his ELC after putting up abysmal numbers in the ECHL. He’s basically there for a place to practice at this rate.

Arturs Silovs is a waiver-exempt, soon-to-be 20-year-old who has only been given a single game with the Manitoba Moose while on a loan-agreement with the Jets. He likely returns to the Barrie Colts when the OHL resumes, but that isn’t a guarantee.

Michael Di Pietro is a waiver-exempt 21-year-old who is burning the final year of his ELC sitting on the practice squad, earning time with Ian Clark (who may leave at the end of his contract), and practicing with the taxi-squad.

This is unacceptable. The Comets play nine games over the next 22 days. How the Canucks couldn’t call-up Silovs to the taxi-squad to send Di Pietro down for game-action is beyond me.

The Comets don’t have an AHL goalie on them right now!

They could’ve made this switch weeks ago!

DO IT NOW! Get the kid playing games!

He was so good for the Comets last season; he put the team on his back on most nights! You can’t waste this year.

DO SOMETHING:

Blues contracted player, Curtis McKenzie, gets tonight’s honour of being the Harvest’s do something player!

McKenzie is a minute-munching second/third-line forward playing alongside Carson Focht and Nolan Stevens. Despite their impressive two-way play and overall control, I’d expect more substantial offence generation for someone with McKenzie’s takeaway rates. He isn’t the fastest skater, but he’s adept at picking off passes and stripping pucks while forechecking. The offence that follows that solid forechecking pressure has been underwhelming.

It’s especially bizarre to see someone preventing goals and shot-attempts at 5v5 at his rate, without contributing a lick of goals. Just two on-ice goals-for at 5v5 in six games played for McKenzie.

McKenzie has the fourth-worst goals-for rates (per-60) of any Comets player. While he’s done excellent at preventing goals against, absolutely nothing is happening for production.

I’m still questioning why Cull has chosen McKenzie for PP1 — I can only assume it is apart of the Canucks deal with the Blues as part of sharing an affiliate.

But frankly, McKenzie brings nothing to the powerplay. Even with PP1 minutes, there is a considerable lack of goals scored (per-60) on the powerplay with McKenzie on the ice.

Need him to step up his offensive game.

He was a 42 point player for the Chicago Wolves last season and is just two seasons removed from a 25 goal campaign with the Texas Stars.

Hopefully, that starts tonight in the absence of the Comets first-line center, Kole Lind.

STARTING ROSTER

 

  • Once again, the lineup blender leaves us with a bunch of trios who’ve spend absolutely zero time together at 5v5, haha.
  • I have been saying it all year, “put Gadjovich on the top-line because they need a goalscorer to make it work.” Hopefully, they can!
  • Fortunately, the team gets Hugh McGing and John Stevens back from IR. Otherwise, they would be playing with a 9F/7D roster…which truly would’ve been something!
  • Also, the Stevens brothers on a line together <3
  • Looks like Josh Wesley will play this game as a forward instead of rotating in as the seventh defenceman.

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

GAME 9:

1st period:

PP1: Baertschi, Rathbone, Gadjovich, Jasek, Reinke

  • Love the composition of this powerplay unit; a bit safe with Reinke/Rathbone on the back-end, but I love seeing Baertschi and Jasek out with Rathbone and Gadjovich. That’s a powerplay unit that, with time, can do some damage.
  • PP1 Gets a one-timer from Jasek, but Amerks sweep the puck out of the zone, Comets 2nd powerplay unit hops over the boards

PP2: Woo, Focht, McGing, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

PK1: McKenzie, J. Stevens, Tucker, Woo

PK2: Lockwood, Kaspick, Teves, Reinke

2nd period:

PP1: Jasek, Rathbone, Reinke, Baertschi, Gadjovich

PP2: Focht, Woo, McGing, McKenzie, N. Stevens

PK1: Jasek, Tucker, Woo, J. Stevens

  • [GOAL-ROCHESTER- 2-1 Comets] A mere twenty seconds into the penalty kill, and the Comets lead is cut down by one. Brett Murray with a gorgeous saucer-pass to Jack Quinn for a sharp-angle goal over Kielly. Tough break for the Comets, who were absolutely dominating the period thus far.
  • Mitch Eliot with another point-shot clapper on Luukkonen. The guy is hunting for that first goal of the season.
  • Casey Fitzgerald with a slow one-timer from the point that narrowly goes wide of Kielly’s net.
  • Teves really showing off his skating tonight with his holds along the offensive-zone blue line.
  • Lockwood takes a high-sticking infraction, and the Comets head to their third PK of the night.

PK1: Kaspick ,Teves, Jasek, Eliot

3rd period:

PP1: Gadjovich, Jasek, Baertschi, Rathbone, Reinke

PK1: Kaspick, Teves, Eliot, J. Stevens

  • Time winds down after PK1 clears the zone.
  • Comets will spend the first minute and 18 seconds shorthanded, 3v4.

Overtime:

 

Shootout:

RESULT:

Comets win in the shootout: 3-2

SCORESHEET:

 

 

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Jonah Gadjovich looked great on the first-line. No hyperbole or praise for dramatic effect. Gadjovich looked fast, displayed great hands, hockey IQ, and two-way play. Was one of his best two-way games he’s played all season. He did not look out of place on the Comets first-line with Baertschi and Jasek. His forechecking presence was badly needed. Jasek is a great option at picking off passes after they’re released, but Gadjovich’s physical forecheck made those players make risky outlet passes for the taking. Happy for the guy. A lot of people wrote him off after the last two seasons. Even now, I still have reservations due to his skating. But tonight was a fantastic step in the right direction. Proving he can skate and play with the first-line against top-competition and not look out of place is a good look for the big man from Whitby.
  • Gadjovich ended the night with seven shots on goal and now leads the AHL in goals. Not too shabby!
  • I don’t think Lind will be out for too much longer. Should he return, I think Gadjovich may have earned himself an extended look on the Comets top line. Maybe the center will be different; maybe it will be Jasek, maybe it will be Lind. It’s tough to say. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of ‘Top-Sixjovich.’ I think he displayed a lot of the qualities necessary to being a top-line forward at the AHL level. He was good. Impressively good. He might just be the goalscoring punch at 5v5 that this top-six has been in desperate need of this season.
  • Lukas Jasek had a really great game at 5v5. He was stripping the puck off of Amerks left, right and center. He was missing shots and holding the puck a bit too much for my liking on the powerplay. But 5v5 is where the game matters most. And he excelled on that top-line with Gadjovich and Baertschi. I actually thought he and Gadjovich had better chemistry than Jasek and Baertschi had as a pair. Kind of how I’ve been saying all year that the first-line needs a shooter. That’s what I think Jasek needs. Someone to go to the slot and redirect his passes or tip his shot-attempts. I was very intrigued by the speed that Jasek was displaying on the Comets PK and at 5v5 on those forced turnovers. Legitimately looked like an NHL’er out there at times.
  • Jack Rathbone was about as quiet as Rathbone gets. AKA, he didn’t score any points. He was still a lot of flash and panache whenever he held the puck, but the Amerks were honing in on him whenever he started to put in work along the blue line. They were wise to his attempts at cutting down the wings to set up cross-ice passes for his shooters. The one time where he really went for it, the Amerks took a blatant tripping penalty to avoid the set-play. Was absolutely the best part about the Comets’ first powerplay unit. His bomb from anywhere on the ice is something to behold. NHL players don’t really clump like they do in the AHL; AHL PKs tend to get very panicky, resulting in a cluster-ball of 4-5 players in the way of a primary shooter. When Rathbone has that shooting lane, it is like an absolute laser beam firing off. I still don’t know how Luukkonen made that one safe from on his ass. Rath’s shot is absolute money.
  • Speaking of the powerplay, I liked the reinvigorated look with Rathbone on the blue line, though I would prefer to see someone like Will Lockwood out instead of Mitch Reinke. Reinke doesn’t bring much to the powerplay, frankly, and he doesn’t have the speed to backcheck on those shorthanded rush opportunities. Give me Will Lockwood out there all day to backcheck like a madman and create zone-entries for PP1. Speed kills, and even if his hands can’t keep up with his feet, the net positive of having someone like Lockwood fighting for rebounds on the powerplay is huge.
  • Speaking of which, I thought Lockwood played a great game. Really think his speed will earn him a shot in the NHL even if the production isn’t there. The dude can wheel, and if he can translate his penalty killing to the NHL, he’ll be found money for the Canucks next season.
  • Another solid night for Josh Teves and Mitch Eliot in limited minutes. Teves’ speed is certainly above-average AHL, borderline NHL, quality. Just tends to dish the puck or lose the puck at the most inopportune moments. Eliot has an absolute bomb of a shot, and you can tell he’s searching for that first goal of the season. He had to settle for a primary assist on that Gadjovich goal, but a goal is bound to come from him soon—dude claps.
  • Liked the look of the Stevens’ brothers line with Curtis McKenzie. With last-change, Trent Cull got them out against the veteran/big-boy hockey line of JS Dea, Andrew Ogilvie, and Remi Elie; and they absolutely dominated them in shot-attempts. The brothers had a couple good breakaway opportunities, but I think they peeled off of the opportunities because neither wanted the other to have a scoring edge over the other. Fair.
  • I don’t really like to talk about reffing in the game thoughts section because it makes the Harvest sound way too Homer-ish. But the reffing tonight was atrocious. Several blatant missed icings completely tilted the ice in favour of the Amerks. Plus, the non-tripping call on Jasek that led to the game-tying goal was pathetic. Refs have to be better than they were tonight in Utica. To hell with game-management. A team like the Comets, dominating a team for 2 minutes straight in the offensive-zone, shouldn’t have icing waved off simply because the Amerks have the long-change to go through.
  • Kielly was okay tonight. He made some clutch stops, but he got caught flailing around his crease for some reason on several attempts. The Jasek non-call on the game-tying goal aside. It was a weak goal to allow. Fortunately, Kielly has found a niche as a shootout god as he picks up his second shootout win for the Comets.
  • Jett Woo was completely fine.
  • Sven Baertschi was solid as usual.
  • Carson Focht was dominant in his shifts, even if the points didn’t come. His fourth-line with Robby Jackson and Josh Wesley had no business being as dominant as it was when it came to controlling shot-attempts and suppressing attempts-against.
  • Hugh McGing had a big night in his return from IR — Four shots, the opening goal, and a shootout goal! Big contribution on a night that needed guys to step up in the absence of so many key players.

 

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Jonah Gadjovich
  2. Lukas Jasek
  3. Mitch Eliot

HM: Josh Teves

Next Up on the Docket

Comets are back up this weekend for a double-header against, you guessed it! The Amerks and the Crunch!

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 I’ll catch you this weekend for back-to-back Comets action!

COMETS HARVEST: The AHL is a Flat Circle

The Rath of Bone

It was quite the weekend debut for Rack Jathbone!

Four points in two games, with three of the four coming at 5v5.

I mean, what more can I say. Besides his actual offensive production, the guy has NHL speed and skating, vision, and defensive play.

There were times in Friday’s game where the Comets loaded-up first line of Baertschi, Lind, and Jasek would establish their cycle in the offensive zone then work for two minutes straight, hammering away with shots and attempts.

That green bar was Friday. They registered a PLUS THIRTY-SIX SHOT-ATTEMPT DIFFERENTIAL AT 5v5 against Rochester.

It was absolute carnage.

Yes, in two games, Rathbone was a net-positive every time he touched the ice except when sharing the ice with Curtis McKenzie, Nolan Stevens, and Carson Focht (which I’ll get into later)

He looked a bit tired in his first back-to-back of the year, so tonight will be interesting to see how he recovers!

Jack Rathbone’s share of ice-time using on-ice shot-attempt data as a proxy

Rathbone spent most of his time matched with Jett Woo as his partner while being deployed alongside the Comets top-line.

* Eye-test stands to reason that whenever Lind, Baertschi, and Jasek are on the ice together at 5v5, they are on against the other team’s top lines.

The fact that Rathbone is already being trusted on the ice with top-line matchup deployment is great. Even better, he managed to run-up a shot-attempt differential ranging from +5 to +15, with Lind/Bae/Jasek likely playing against a talent level that is close at or above that fivesome’s playing field.

Other takeaways from Rathbone’s early-metrics:

  • against middle-six competition with Gadjovich and Lockwood, Rathbone managed a 5v5 shot-attempt ratio of 15-to-2 with Gadjovich, and 11-to-2 with Lockwood
  • If you’re big on PDO — Rathbone is running a second-place PDO of 105%.
    • First belongs to fellow debutant Robby Jackson and his 150% PDO, LOL.

Again, it’s still super early, and it’s reckless to takeaway too much from a two-game sample-size.

But man, he looked good.

And, alongside Höglander, is one of the few bright spots in a forgettable Canucks season.

DO SOMETHING

Today’s do something definitely belongs to Carson Focht. He’s been trusted with two veteran players in Nolan Stevens and Curtis McKenzie but has struggled with acting as a distributor to them.

Carson Focht Player-Card After 7GP

He’s running good underlying metrics at 5v5; however, he’s struggled mightily at scoring since his goal in the third game of the season.

He does many little things right; he has the right linemates to facilitate offence through, so CometsHarvest is hoping for him to do something tonight.

 

Tonight’s opponent is the Rochester Americans, who are coming into tonight’s matchup off a 4-3 loss to the Syracuse Crunch this past Monday.

For the first time this season, the Comets will be the rested-team coming into the match-up.

STARTING ROSTER

  • Comets management really haven’t found a 12th forward on a PTO to give them a full lineup? K.
  • Those shot-attempt differentials on the Comets first-line and the Rathbone/Woo pairing

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

GAME 8:

1st period:

  • Comets win the opening draw, and Rathbone immediately sends the Focht line into the offensive zone to recover.
  • Kole Lind steps on for a shift between Gadjovich and Lockwood; very interesting to see how this plays out.
  • [GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets] Well, that got answered pretty quick! On their first shift together, Kole Lind (#13) leads the zone entry before handing it off to Will Lockwood (#10). Lockwood wheels down the left wing for a shot on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who doesn’t control the rebound. The bouncing puck goes off the dome of an Amerk defender, and Jonah Gadjovich (#21), as he tends to do, is there at the net-front to bat in the rebound for his seventh of the season.

2nd period:

PP1: Lind, McKenzie, Baertschi, Reinke, Nolan Stevens

PP2: Gadjovich, Jasek, Jackson, Focht, Rathbone

PK1: Lockwood, Kaspick, Woo, Tucker

  • Lockwood takes away a loose rebound and generates a shorthanded rush but elects to dump-and-change

PK2: Jasek, Teves, Eliot, N. Stevens

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

3rd period:

  • Comets with 3:30 remaining on the powerplay to try and even things up
  • Lockwood was rewarded for his offensive efforts tonight, and they put him on the powerplay with Rathbone, Jasek, Gadjovich, and Woo.
  • Oof, Lockwood gets tied up in a puck-battle and gets called for holding. Comets to 4v4
  • Cull rolls out Baertschi, Kaspick, Woo, Rathbone for 4v4. Bit of an odd forward pairing
  • Comets ice the puck with one-minute remaining in the 4v4
  • Comets playing this like it’s a penalty-kill; just consistently hemmed in their zone on the 4v4. Tough look.
  • Woo (#22) with a breakaway that ends about as bad as a breakaway opportunity in a one-goal game can go.
  • Lockwood out of the box with less than twenty to go on the Fitzgerald double-minor powerplay
  • The comets really doing nothing with the puck.
  • Remi Elie takes a tripping penalty with less than three remaining in the period as the Comets try to enter the zone.
  • Gillies gets pulled for the 6v4
  • Reinke, Rathbone, Jasek, Baertschi, Gadjovich, McKenzie out for the extra man
  • Struggling to find a shooting lane
  • Baertschi with a one-timer
  • [GOAL – ROCHESTER – 4-2 Americans] Baertschi (#47) with the best opportunity on the man-advantage. Jasek’s (#9) cross-ice sauce goes over Baertschi’s stick, and Mattias Samuelsson sends a rink-wide pass into the Comets zone for Remi Elie as he leaves the box. Elie waits out Rathbone’s (#3) defensive effort to set up Arttu Ruotsalainen with the empty-netter. Tough break.
  • A couple of shot-attempts to close out the game, but this one’s over.
  • Comets outshoot the Amerks 33 to 23, but a brutal powerplay and poor goaltending are their downfall in this one.

RESULT:

COMETS LOSE 4-2 IN REGULATION

SCORESHEET:

 

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • Tough game to watch, to be completely honest. Comets generated a boatload of attempts, but at the end of the day, Luukkonen was the better goaltender.
  • There were a lot of good takeaways from tonight! Among other things, the penalty kill was successful, Gadjovich picked up another 5v5 goal, Rathbone scored his first pro-goal, Lockwood notches an assist and registers seven shots on goal. But it’s odd when all those things combine for a 33-shot performance that is more frustrating than anything. Have the Canucks made me incapable of appreciating little-victories? I really can’t say
    • but the answer is yes
  • Comets’ powerplay needs an overhaul. One for eight on the night is not good enough for a team with their offensive talent. Rathbone has to be on PP1 after tonight. They need someone with a point shot, and so does PP2. Reinke is fine. But I don’t get this coaching staff’s obsession with putting him out on PP1. He’s not even the 2nd best D-option for generating offence. I’m sure it has something to do with the agreement with the Blues or something. But man, he just doesn’t move the needle at the point. Get Jett Woo some time on the powerplay. Hell, give time to the youth who can actually create offence with their skating.
    • PP1: Rathbone, Baertschi, Lind, Gadjovich, Lockwood
    • PP2: Reinke, Woo, Jasek, Focht, Stevens
  • Kind of surprised that a team being constructed by two NHL teams can’t field a roster enough for twelve forwards and six defencemen. I don’t know if the third-period fatigue is entirely related to the lack of able-bodied forwards. But, surely, it doesn’t help the team to be constantly mixing lines every shift.
Game 8: 3rd Period Shot-Chart
  • Again, really solid effort from the Comets in terms of controlling shot-attempts, but against a big team like Rochester, they need to find ways to use their skating to open up shooting lanes in the slot. When they faced the deficit in the third period, the Amerks had zero problems holding the Comets shooters to the outside. As Canucks fans, we are familiar with how ineffective point-shots can be.
  • He still hasn’t found a way onto the scoresheet, but I love how effective Jett Woo’s game is. Simple, yet effective. Good timing on his offensive and defensive pinches. Had a couple great looks tonight with shots on net
  • Tough break for Will Lockwood, who finished his night with one assist and seven shots on goal. The kid was a workhorse on the forecheck and finally stapling together the offensive aspect of his aggressive forechecking game. Hopefully, he gets another considerable look on the Comets powerplay. As stated earlier, the Comets really need players with mobility and aggression on that first unit to create space and fight for loose pucks. Lockwood ticks those boxes, and I think trusting him in a powerplay role would benefit his game considerably.
  • RE: the above, I feel like the Comets coaches told all of their forwards and D to be more relentless with shots. Instead of making the perfect play, just take the shot. Carson Focht and Josh Wesley were the only Comets to go without recording a shot on Luukkonen.
  • Jack Rathbone is legit.
  • Jonah Gadjovich’s skating might keep him from ever being an NHL’er. Jack Quinn made him look foolish on the one shift where they were matched with each other. But man, the dude is carrying this team at 5v5 with goalscoring. It’s unreal to think where this Comets team would be at 5v5 without Gadjovich’s production. The dude gets the job done, somehow.
  • Sadly the DO SOMETHING reverse-curse didn’t work on Focht. He was largely unnoticeable in all areas of the ice. Had a couple good looks when reunited with Gadjovich/Lockwood, but with Stevens/McKenzie, nothing happens.
  • Lind had a pretty solid game — was good in the faceoff dot and zone entries. Sucks he got that cut on the bridge of his nose. The Comets really could’ve used him on the 5v3 and prolonged 5v4.
  • Josh Teves with another quiet but stable night on the Comets third pair. Might have worked himself back in Cull’s favour with his speed on the Comets penalty kill. Still has moments where his hands can’t catch up with his feet, and he loses the puck accordingly, but he’s been solid since returning to the lineup.
  • Sign a PTO and get Reinke off of PP1. Ryan Johnson and his coaching staff have seven days to accomplish this.
  • I have spoken.

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Will Lockwood
  2. Jack Rathbone
  3. Jett Woo

Next Up on the Docket

Comets get a seven-day break between action; they return next Wednesday against, you guessed it, the Rochester Americans.

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 the Harvest will see you all back here next Wednesday!