COMETS HARVEST: First Blood Part 2

A quick turnaround for the Utica Comets as they return to action for the first time in a month with a back-to-back.

I’m not sure what the impetus was to jamming the Comets schedule with games?

Including last night’s game against Rochester, the Comets are in the midst of a four-in-six stretch; they play eleven games 22 days through April.

There are still no concrete plans to host Calder Playoffs as of today; Therefore, the Comets, Amerks, and Crunch are mostly playing to stay fresh for their NHL squads and get reps in.

With that context in mind, what is the sense in getting the Comets playing three games in five nights?

Let me re-phrase: Why is the league forcing three games in five nights on a team that is just returning from a month-long layoff due to COVID?

There are no playoffs! There’s absolutely no need to have the Comets playing a schedule this dense after a COVID outbreak.

Anyways, tonight’s opponent for tonight, and the next three games, is the Syracuse Crunch, a team coming off of a four-game series against the Rochester Americans.

In that series, the Crunch dominated the Amerks, winning three of four.

  • 2016 2nd rounder, Boris Katchouk, picked up three goals and four assists
  • 2015 2nd rounder, Mitchell Stephens, picked up one goal and four assists in three games since joining off of Tampa’s IR
  • The AHL’s leading scorer from last year, Alex Barre-Boulet, had one goal in each of the four games

The Lightning’s roster situation has allowed their farm team to load their top-six with talent.

The Crunch come into tonight’s matchup on three nights rest.

Like last night’s game, not expecting much from the Comets.

They dominated the first two periods against the Amerks but fumbled on defensive coverage at very inopportune moments that gave the Amerks the win.

They definitely deserved a better result for their efforts.

Let’s see how they do on tired legs in their first back-to-back in over a month!

DO SOMETHING

Again, no pressure on anyone! These first couple of games here are about the players finding their legs and getting back up to game speed!

STARTING ROSTER

 

  • Joel Hofer gets the start between the pipes! His first start since March 8th, 2020!
  • Mitch Eliot slides off of that pairing with Josh Teves — likely because of this read on the game-winning goal against Rochester.
    • Besides the above gaffe, I thought Eliot looked strong. Stronger than Tyler Tucker, who was responsible for this baffling read.
    • Sliding in for Eliot is Josh Wesley, son of former Carolina Hurricane Glen Wesley, who looks suspiciously identical to head coach Trent Cull.
*x-files music intensifies*
  • Comets Harvest favourite, Vincent Arseneau, gets back into the lineup
  • Other than that, the lineup remains unchanged

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

GAME 11:

1st period:

PP1 – Bärtschi, Jasek, Anas, Gadjovich, Reinke

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

 2nd period:

  • Cull starts the Lockwood, Focht, Stevens line, recognizing that they are one of the few lines operating with some jump in their step tonight.
  • An early penalty was called against Boris Katchouk for high-sticking. Comets to another powerplay!

PP1 – Jasek, Anas, Bärtschi, Gadjovich, Reinke

  • Will Lockwood gets dinged for tripping shortly after Rathbone’s goal, and the Comets are off to their first PK of the night.

PK1 – John and Nolan Stevens, Teves, Wesley

  • Comets win the draw and force the Crunch out to the neutral zone for a reset.
    • Comets clear twice more to force the Crunch to reset from their zone
  • Jett Woo (#22) gets called for hooking while on the PK, and Syracuse gets a 52-second 5-on-3 powerplay

PK2 – Tucker, Reinke, John Stevens

PP2 – Rathbone, Focht, McGing, McKenzie, Nolan Stevens

  • McGing and McKenzie collide with each other off the faceoff, and the Crunch easily clear, forcing the Comets to reset from the neutral zone
    • PP2 then put themselves offside on their entry, and PP1 comes out to replace a very weak 30-second effort
  • Reinke (#28) throws the puck away to Boris Katchouk while trying to break the puck out 
  • OOF, just atrocious powerplay for Utica
    • zero shots on goal
  • Josh Wesley cruises down the right-wing for a shot into the chest of Montembeault.
    • I will say this, Montembeault makes every save look very difficult.
  • Barre-Boulet snaps a shot off the post while being pressured by Jett Woo. Kids shot is deadly.
  • With less than twenty to go in the period, Will Lockwood draws a slash against Odeen Tufto to put the Comets on their fifth powerplay.
  • Sam Anas with a wrister that deflects off a foot and over the net. Syracuse clears the puck as time expires.
    • Comets will start the third period with a minute and forty-seven seconds left on the powerplay.
  • Comets generated just six shots on goal through the middle frame.
    • The team just looks absolutely gassed. Josh Teves looks winded every time he’s on the ice.

3rd period:

  • Rathbone still not getting PP1 time, which is baffling to me. Rathbone hasn’t stood out by any stretch in this game at 5v5. He is surely way more dynamic and valuable to your first powerplay group than he is on a powerplay featuring *checks notes* Curtis McKenzie, Nolan Stevens, and Hugh McGing.
  • Jasek with a point-blank opportunity that gets blockered aside by Montembeault
  • Wow, Sam Anas drives towards the net, and the refs call a trip against Noah Juulsen.
    • Comets get their second 5-on-3 of the game, third in two games. Have yet to score on any of them.

PP1 – Anas, Bärtschi, Gadjovich, Jasek, Reinke

PK1 – Kaspick, Lockwood, Tucker, Woo

  • Comets clear, and Kaspick ties the puck along the end boards in the Crunch’s zone.
  • The Stevens brothers step on for Kaspick/Lockwood and play give-and-go while shorthanded to generate a shot.
  • Jasek picks off a pass in the d-zone and rifles it down the ice as McGing hops out of the box. Good kill.
  • Jasek, Anas, and Gadjovich out as a trio; they pressure in the offensive zone for a bit but don’t generate much
  • GOAL – SYRACUSE – 5-1 Crunch: Jeez…look at how exhausted this Comets team is. Josh Wesley (#24) accidentally backhands the puck right to Mitchell Stephens, who gives Josh Teves (#4) the ole dipsy-doo before setting up Boris Katchouk for his seventh of the year.
  • Vinny Arseneau is apparently back on the ice for a shift? He looked in a bad way when he left the ice not ten minutes ago?
    • I am very curious about what happened in the last ten minutes that convinced the medical staff to let Arseneau back on the ice.
  • Jett Woo (#22) gives Luke Witkowski a hard shove to the number from behind, and Witkowski goes hard into the boards. He leaves the ice under his own power, but that did not look pleasant. 
  • Crunch pressuring late. Comets content just to clear the zone and kill off the clock
  • Tough loss against a fresher and faster opponent.

RESULT:

Syracuse Crunch Def. Utica 5-1

SCORESHEET:

GAME THOUGHTS:

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I said in the preamble that the result didn’t matter. It was just about getting up to game speed. This was ugly. And through no fault of the Comets, really. The league should be ashamed of themselves for scheduling back-to-backs immediately, for a team recovering from a month-layoff due to COVID-19. Despicable. There are literally no stakes in the AHL season, and there are hardly even fans in the buildings. There was absolutely no need to have the Comets playing back to back.
    • Further to the above, the league dropped the news that the Canucks will resume their season on April 16th with a 19-in-30 schedule. What the actual fuck is that? After watching this game, I don’t even want to think about what the Canucks are about to go through. Is it even worth playing?
  • Props to Joel Hofer, he did what he could, and most of the time, looked pretty stable in net. The Comets just had absolutely nothing to match the Crunch’s speed.
  • Jack Rathbone’s goal was pretty nice, but otherwise, he was pretty invisible at 5v5.
  • Outside of his pretty dicey hit on Witkowski, Jett Woo played probably the best out of all the Comets defenders. He displayed some decent speed late in the game, and overall I really liked his defensive play.
  • Gadjovich looked very slow tonight, as did the fourth line, Wesley, Reinke, and Josh Teves. Oh, man… Josh Teves looked absolutely gassed from the first period. He just had no legs under him whatsoever.
  • Carson Focht had a much better game tonight than he did on Friday. Had some decent wheels on him tonight, good passing, good entries and playmaking attempts. Spent most of his game in the offensive zone trying to set up with Stevens and Lockwood until the wheels came off in the early part of the second period.
  • The gameplay was ugly, but these guys are coming off a month layoff into the stupidest schedule imaginable. I can’t really make any judgements on their gameplay since everyone was on the same playing field.
  • Get Reinke off PP1 if it isn’t a mandate from the Blues that he has to be there.
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay safe, everybody.

COMETS HARVEST THREE STARS

  1. Joel Hofer
  2. Jett Woo
  3. Sam Anas

Next Up on the Docket

The Comets run it back against the Crunch this upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday night! It will be a jam-packed schedule, and for some reason, I’ll be tasking myself with tracking four games of data between now and then… My poor wife, haha.

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! Please 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 see you all Tuesday, April 13th, for post-NHL-trade-deadline AHL action!

Leave a Reply