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

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Cheers for tuning in, and the Harvest will see you all back here next Wednesday!

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