11/30/19 – Utica Comets vs. Toronto Marlies

Good Afternoon Canuck Nation, it’s time for another weekend double-header on the road. Today (and tomorrow) the Comets faceoff against North Division-leading, Toronto Marlies.

 

The Marlies haven’t missed a beat since losing Sheldon Keefe to call-up. Since November 20th, the Marlies have rattled off four-straight wins, on top of the existing three-game win streak they had while Keefe was behind the bench. *busts out calculator* that’s SEVEN wins straight!

 

This weekend marks the Marlies first of four triple-header weekends that they’ll have to endure this season. By comparison, the Comets have just one triple-header on the docket this season. Last year, the Comets had five triple-header weekends.

 

I semi got my wish last Wednesday when I’d hoped the Marlies would come into this Saturday’s matchup, tired from their road game against Rochester. While the Marlies won, it was still an overtime game that didn’t end until 9:36 pm last night. Maybe they hit a lil’ traffic on the way home, ensuring a late return home before today’s afternoon action!

 

What I’m getting at is the Comets will need every advantage they can get to come away from this weekend with any points whatsoever. This past Wednesday’s game against the Syracuse Crunch was easily the Comet’s best-composed effort to-date. The D-corps were playing responsibly, the forward groups were aggressive on pucks in the neutral zone, and they didn’t allow their opponents 50+ odd-man-rushes against during the game.

 

Comets will need to repeat Wednesday’s effort and will need Mikey DP to stay on top of his game.

 

All that preamble out of the way lets take a look at the starting lineup and see what if any changes got made to Wednesday’s winning combination.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Malone (#17) Boucher (#24)
Roussel (#62) Camper (#19) Lind (#13)
Gadjovich (#21) Perron (#27) Bailey (#95)
Bancks (#34) Jasek (#9) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Sautner (#6) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Blujus (#8) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

It looks like the only change to Saturday’s lineup is the substitution of Lukas Jasek back into the lineup after missing Wednesday’s action due to injury. Tanner Sorenson was good, but in previous instances, Bancks and Jasek have been a formidable offense-denial line; tonight could be a good defensive effort from the Comets bottom-six.

Also surprising is Michael Di Pietro getting the first start on the weekend. Thought maybe Cull would put his star goaltender in the closer position, as he’s shined for this team in those weekend closing efforts.

In three games as the closer for weekend double-headers this season, Di Pietro is undefeated with one win, one OT win, and one SO win. During those three closing games, MDP has an incredible 107 saves on 112 shots against, good for a 0.955 save %, and a 1.60 goals-against-average. Fingers crossed, he has a solid showing against a tough Marlies lineup while they’re marginally fresher.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Olli Juolevi (not the knee) Vincent Arseneau Wacey Hamilton

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Josh Teves Justin Taylor Tanner Sorenson

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 2-1 Marlies

 

Not the worst period I’ve seen from the Comets, they certainly had their chances throughout the first, but let the Marlies set up passing plays way too often in their end. Marlies outshot the Comets thirteen to eight over the opening twenty. Boucher, Lind, Roussel, and Camper are looking dynamic whenever they’re on the ice. I think Boucher might be one of the few Comets players who nearly manages a positive CORSI while on the penalty kill.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-2 Tie

 

A gutsy effort in the second period from the boys in blue, as they close out the second period having killed off six straight minutes of shorthanded time. Amazingly, despite the extended powerplay time for the Marlies, the Comets held them to just five shots total, according to the AHL game-center. That shot-total might change when I do my tracking comb-through later. Nonetheless, impressive period from the Comets penalty-killers on that one, even if there were a couple, “yikes moments” sprinkled throughout the PK. Before that, Kole Lind and his linemates were looking sharp in creating offense. Defense is regressing to those earlier tendencies that were giving their opponents multiple shorthanded opportunities. Fortunately, the Marlies passing has not been sharp tonight.

 

3rd period

 

 

Gutsy effort by the Comets to come back from two one-goal deficits, and to tie it up late with an even-strength goal. Great effort from the team in the third period as they dominated the Marlies with possession. Shots in the final frame favored the Comets eight to six.

 

Final Score: 4-3 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st TOR Tanner MacMaster Pontus Aberg Egor Korshkov 5v5
1st UTI Sven Baertschi Kole Lind Reid Boucher PPG
1st TOR Kenny Agostino Jeremy Bracco Rasmus Sandin PPG
2nd UTI Justin Bailey Sven Baertschi Brogan Rafferty PPG
3rd UTI Kole Lind Carter Camper Antoine Roussel 5v5
3rd TOR Darren Archibald Tim Liljegren Nicholas Baptiste PPG
3rd UTI Reid Boucher Guillaume Brisebois Brogan Rafferty 5v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • Kole Lind had an incredible game, one goal and one assist with two shots on net. Doesn’t account for his compete level throughout the game as he was constantly creating chances for his line in the offensive zone. It’s pretty crazy to say it, but, on a line with an 8-year veteran in Carter Camper, and a literal NHL’er in Antoine Roussel, that Lind was far-and-away the most dangerous of the three. The Lindenaiisance has come upon us. Really liking his progression this season, isn’t the passenger he was last season, he’s a fantastic drive of offense and has an underrated defensive game to boot.
  • Roussel, we hardly knew ye. Even though it was just a conditioning stint, I really enjoyed seeing him play with Lind. Their chemistry gave me hope for the future that Lind might one day get a chance to reunite with him. Even if it’s only for a preseason game, or in a mean-nothing game to close out a lost season (not that that will happen, given the Canucks impending seven straight cup wins). I think Lind could model his game off of Roussel’s, a bit of a shit-disturber who can agitate, make plays, and score. Size and strength might hold him back, but the Canucks have his rights until the end of the next season when he becomes an RFA.
  • MDP had himself an “okay” game, he needs to stop sprawling to his belly on every big save, because if he doesn’t control that rebound well-enough, then he is susceptible to secondary scoring chances. Being a smaller guy, he has to play off his post, further than most goalies, so his defenders have to do better at muscling out forward playing net-front — nothing he could do on that Agostino goal. Archibald’s goal came off his need to play out to limit space for one-timer blasts. But again, rebound control has to be better to avoid chances like Archie got to tie things up.
  • Reid Boucher was Reid Boucher. Guy has got an NHL shot that only works at the AHL level…not much more I can elaborate on him
  • Baertschi wasn’t looking too hot through the opening ten minutes of the game, but he started to come alive as the game chugged along. After that powerplay tally, a switch went off for him, and suddenly it was like he was playing for his NHL career. Impressive puck-control display in the following two periods when the game wasn’t on penalty-killing time for the Comets
  • Defense regressed to their tactics of playing way too deep in the offensive zone. I was hoping after Wednesday’s efforts that those tendencies were shored up or drilled into their heads effectively for the remainder of the season. Fortunately for the Comets D-corps tonight, the Marlies puck-control game was a complete trainwreck. The Marlies sheer number of errant passes and giveaways is what allowed the Comets to pressure in the offensive zone as much as they did. If the Marlies shore up on their control game, then that overly-aggressive play from the d-corps will get them killed by this very impressive Marlies forward group.
  • Jonah Gadjovich continues to impress this season, despite not getting too much ample ice-time tonight against the Marlies. Gadj is making his shifts count, and that’s all anybody could ask from him. His skating looks sharp, he was physical, he didn’t even slow down, plus his playmaking ability didn’t look out of place alongside Perron and Bailey. I’d argue that he was controlled play better with Bailey than Perron did. Perron was rather quiet in tonight’s action, whereas Gadjovich was always doing the little things to make himself noticeable.
  • Outside of that powerplay goal from Agostino, Jalen Chatfield was pretty decent. He made fewer mistakes than several of the other Comets blue liners. If only he had a decent shot, then his speed would be much more threatening.
  • Lukas Jasek was alright in his return, but he was being carried pretty hard by Dyson Stevenson and Carter Bancks. The kids positioning and play with the puck is alright when he has the puck on his stick. But Jasek continues to look like he’s chasing play when he doesn’t inherently have the puck on his stick. It’s bizarre because last season, he was one of the Comets better defensive forwards despite not having the speed. Since his move to center, Jasek looks to have the speed but is playing worse defensively. I think this move to center has tanked his confidence. Jasek genuinely looks scared to create offense in the offensive zone. As much as I enjoy seeing a young forward who will peel back for a defensive effort, I can’t accept it if that’s at the expense of producing negative shot-attempts every game. I wish the Comets and Canucks staff were able to fix the mess they’ve made and could get this kid back to his more comfortable position.
  • Overall, a solid performance from the Comets in a road game against a very hot team. The Comets end the Marlies win-streak at seven and quietly find themselves on a three-game win streak. Tonight’s win puts their points-percentage at 0.643, giving them the edge over the Belleville Senators and the Laval Rocket, who both tie the Comets with 27 points in the division. Comets hopefully return Sunday for another decent effort to try and widen that gap a bit further.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Kole Lind
  • Sven Baertschi

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets are back in action tomorrow when they engage in the rematch. Hopefully, the Comets win, but more importantly, hopefully, I get the recap out in a much timelier fashion!

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/27/19 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

Well, Canuck Nation, did we ever have a night of hockey in store for us this freezing Wednesday evening! With storylines galore to focus on! The all-junior squad of the Canucks facing off against the surging Penguins, the Goldy/Petey reunion, Stecher back on the first pairing, and lastly, Loui Eriksson, getting scratched for Zack MacEwen on the fourth line.

 

It’s nights like these where I genuinely dislike having a Farm team on the east coast because it is going to be tough to track this Utica Comets showdown with the Syracuse Crunch when that kind of game is going down on my other screen!

 

The Comets aren’t without their storylines either. After a brutal back-to-back weekend against the Laval Rocket, the Comets saw their list of available centers crater even further if such a thing was thought to be possible!

 

After Saturday’s action, the Comets lost Wacey Hamilton, Lukas Jasek, and Vincent Arseneau to injuries. The injuries to Hamilton and Jasek will prove most difficult for this squad to overcome, as there are barely any natural centers remaining on the roster. As it stands, the team has Francis Perron and Carter Bancks floating in the center position for the time being. But their top-six is currently being centered by Carter Camper and Seamus Malone.

 

For those who’ve kept up with the Farm, Malone has missed the last four games with an arm injury. Before that, Malone had been alternating time between the press box and the fourth-line. Tonight he sees the promotion of all promotions when he centers Sven Baertschi and Reid Boucher. I’ve liked Malone’s game since his debut with the Comet’s late last season. In his brief time with the Comets, he’s displayed a decent shot and solid foot speed, albeit a bit undersized. I would not be surprised if he impressed alongside these two, as he seems like the type who would elevate his game to his linemates level.

 

The Comets (by my tracking) have been getting dominated at even-strength as of late, so the additions of Sven Baertschi and Antoine Roussel to the lineup will be a welcome relief to this squad.

 

Tonight, the Comets faceoff against the Syracuse Crunch, as mentioned above. The Crunch come into Wednesday’s matchup on a three-game winning streak. Having spent their last week dominating the Eastern Conference-leading, Hartford Wolf Pack, in back-to-back games.

 

The Comets, by comparison, haven’t won a home game since October 30th. I know what you’re thinking, it’s a spooky curse! But, it might just be that this team has been propped up by incredible goaltending, and the erosion of the team’s top players has caused this, once-hot team to cool off to a concerning degree. For the Utica faithful’s sake, I hope this rag-tag group can put together a win for the home crowd.

 

With that out of the way, let’s get into tonight’s game starting with the night’s lineup!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Baertsch (#47) Malone (#17) Boucher (#24)
Roussel (#62) Camper (#19) Lind (#13)
Gadjovich (#21) Perron (#27) Bailey (#95)
Sorenson (#74) Bancks (#34) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Sautner (#6) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Blujus (#8) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

All-star Rookie Goalie, Michael Di Pietro, gets the start at home. MDP was absolutely phenomenal on Saturday against the Rocket, where he posted an incredible 0.953 save% and a 2.01 Goals-against-average.

Other lineup notes not previously addressed; Tanner Sorenson slides into the lineup for the first time this season. Sorenson picked up three goals and three assists with the Kalamazoo Wings, before getting the call-up as an injury replacement.

Dylan Blujus also slides in for Josh Teves on that third pairing. I can’t complain about that one too much, as Teves hasn’t found a scoring touch yet in his time with the Comets. That and Blujus has the experience advantage, which this team will rely on heavily against the aggressive Crunch.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Olli Juolevi (not the knee) Lukas Jasek Vincent Arseneau Wacey Hamilton

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Josh Teves

 

1st period

 

Comets in Green/White Alternates

 

 

The Score at the end of the 1st period: 1-0 Comets

 

Comets looking ok, all things considered. Shots tied at nine apiece! Game looks like it will be getting very chippy eventually. Roussel was mucking it up with a couple of Crunch players after heading to the bench on the PK. Given the team’s dearth of centers, it’s impressive they’ve stayed somewhat competitive at even-strength. Baertschi not doing much of anything tonight so far. Chalk it up to the brutal travel-to Syracuse. Shot attempts just not happening whenever Baertschi is controlling the puck. Seamus Malone has been driving play with Reid Boucher on that line tonight. Baertschi’s fundamentals are keeping him in the play, but he genuinely isn’t bringing much, shot-wise.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-1 Comets

 

Hard to fault them on the goal that cut the Comets lead, as MDP did his very best to try get a glove on it. Game is getting into bizarre territory with the odd number of penalties being called — 18 minutes worth of penalties, and four minutes of coincidental penalties. Comets outshot the Crunch twelve to ten. Couldn’t even tell you who was edging who at even-strength. So much of this period has been spent on the man-advantage and so little at 5-on-5.

 

3rd period

 

 

 

Final Score: 4-1 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Mitch Eliot Carter Camper Francis Perron PPG
2nd Utica Reid Boucher Sven Baertschi Brogan Rafferty PPG
2nd Syracuse Danick Martel Nolan Valleau Otto Somppi PPG
3rd Utica Dylan Blujus Tanner Sorenson Dyson Stevenson PPG
3rd Utica Sven Baertschi Reid Boucher 5v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • Comets get a clean win over Syracuse despite being quite undisciplined through the first two periods of play. Comets conclude the game having outshot the Crunch, 35 to 24. The third frame was particularly impressive for the Comets as they managed to hold the Crunch to five shots.
  • Impressive season debut for Tanner Sorenson. After last seasons revolving door of middling ECHL call-ups, its been a welcome change to see guys like Dyson Stevenson and Tanner Sorenson step into the Comets lineup and be valuable additions to their fourth line. Sorenson notches his first career AHL point after spending the last four years alternating between the ECHL, the VHL (KHL’s version of the A), and the NLB (Swiss version of the A). Props to him on a wildly successful debut. I can’t wait to do the stats-tracking on this one to see if the underlying numbers match my eye test impression!
  • Antoine Roussel, when he was playing, was a constant threat. He didn’t have much ice-time tonight, but I think that was mostly because he wasn’t playing 1st unit powerplay time or much PK time. He did play second unit on the right wall, as well as on the PK, but Cull rolled out his main guys for the insane amount of special-teams time as opposed to his NHL vets. Roussel looked solid all-in-all, skating was never a concern, his turning and burst looked unencumbered. Stoked to see this guy two more times before he returns to the Canucks
  • Don’t be fooled by Baertschi’s stat line. He may have ended the night with one goal and one assist, but the dude just hemorrhages shot attempts-against. Even before he left for his stint with the Canucks, Baertschi’s control numbers were somewhat suspect during his time with the Comets. Baertschi’s CORSI and FENWICK Off-ice percentages suggest that the Comets are controlling shot-attempts at a much higher rate without him on the ice as opposed to with him on the ice. For someone of his pedigree, that seems like the opposite of what should be happening, especially given Baertschi’s current 1.50 pts per game status. Fact is, Baertschi knows how to position and how to take advantage of the lax defending in the AHL. Perhaps, his natural playmaking allows him to cheat heavily on the defensive side of the game. But if he wants to earn a chance with the Canucks again, he’s going to have to put in way more effort in his defensive side to be useful to this Comets team in a first-line capacity.

Svens stat line based on my own tracking

  • A writeup on the data I’ve put together so far after 19 (22 after this weekend) will come out soon hopefully! Just about really making sure I’ve done my homework and am not speaking out of turn when it comes to my armchair-stat-tracking
  • Reid Boucher had himself a solid game tonight as he dominated the Syracuse Crunch in the neutral zone with his oppressive takeaway game. Boucher ended his night with one goal and one assist with six shots on net. Guy was a constant threat and looked to have instant chemistry with Seamus Malone as his center.
  • Seamus Malone was fantastic in his return game tonight, was aggressively forechecking, solid in his own end, and created numerous scoring chances for his line. His stat line might lead people to think that he was a passenger tonight, but he genuinely was carrying the offensive load with Boucher tonight. A great game overall for him after a brutal string of unfortunate injuries over the summer and this season.
  • Jonah Gadjovich continues to impress. Registered just one shot on goal, but his much-improved skating and looks in the offensive zone were a far cry from the guy who struggled last season to generate momentum with his skates. Gadjovich looked sharp against the Crunch, holding his own in the defensive zone just as well as he did as leading his line for zone-entries. I said it already this season, but, most people auto-wrote Gadjovich off after last season but were readying themselves for the “Lind resurgence.” Maybe, folks should’ve been paying attention to what guys like Cory Hergott and myself were saying at the end of last year, that the kid was turning a corner to close out last season and would be one to watch this year.
  • Guillaume Brisebois (and all the defensemen for that matter) were solid tonight. No truly glaring errors that stood out above all. There were a few risky passes through the high-slot that could’ve been bad news, but otherwise, I think they all collectively played well tonight. Blujus, Rafferty, Sautner, Eliot, and Brisebois combined for sixteen of the Comets 34 shots on net. Fantastic contribution from the backline tonight. Rafferty tempered his willingness to overcommit in the offensive zone tonight and played a more subdued game. I believe his and other agro defensemen toning back on the offensive aggression contributed to the Comets playing a much cleaner game in both ends of the ice.
  • Justin Bailey showed off his speed quite a bit tonight, but boy was he frustrating to watch. The second he gets his motor going, you just know he’s going to skate too far past the goal line to get a meaningful scoring chance. If he starts to do a lap around the offensive zone, you know he’s going to taper off towards the end of his run, and it will lead to an easy save for the goaltender. His speed should provide unpredictability to his opponents that opens up scoring chances. But, somehow, despite his NHL speed, it’s just a matter of letting him tired himself out to turn the play the other way. Somethings gotta get fixed there because it’s a massive waste to see that speed only result in low% shot attempts.
  • Mitch Eliot continues to impress at the AHL level. His bomb from the blue line tonight was crisp AF. I think one of my main concerns heading into this season was the lack of d-men who could hit the net from the blue line with a shot. Chatfield and Sautner continue to be MIA in that department, so it’s great to see the rookies, Eliot and Rafferty, step up in such a huge way with their impressive shots.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Mitch Eliot
  • Tanner Sorenson

HM: Jonah Gadjovich

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets return this Saturday and Sunday for another roadie double-header when the Comets head north to face off against the Toronto Marlies. The Marlies lead the North Division with 29 points, while the Comets now sit in third with 25. The Marlies currently sit on a six-game win streak, but they will be heading into the weekend double-header after also playing the Rochester Americans on the road Friday night. Utica has to do everything they can to overwhelm, what should be, an exhausted Marlies team.

 

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/22/19 – Utica Comets vs. Laval Rocket

The Comets blistering undefeated October seems like decades ago. After a pristine 8-0 start, the Comets have had a dismal November record of 2-6-1-0.

 

Despite four goals in their last outing, the messy defensive play of the Comets came back to bite them, as they lost a heartbreaker at home. The loss was the team’s sixth loss at home. Given the Adirondack Bank Center’s already teeny-tiny capacity, this is something the Farm is going to have to curb if they want to keep butts in the seats. Otherwise, that talk of moving the team to Abbotsford is going to be a primary talking point this summer.

 

Tonight, the Comets face off against the Alex Burrows (assistant) coached, Laval Rocket. The Rocket are on the heater of all heaters. After a weak, 3-5-1 start to their season, the Rocket rallied to pick up 16 points out of a possible 20, over their last ten games.

 

A lot of that credit is due to the incredible goaltending from rookie, Cayden Primeau. Primeau currently leads the AHL in goaltending stats with a 1.87 goals-against-average and a 0.934 save percentage.

 

The Comets will need to be on their games tonight if they want to crack the impeccable defense of Primeau. Wednesday’s game against the Rocket proved that getting plenty of even-strength goals isn’t enough to get the job done.

 

With several of the Comets French contingent playing in front of their “home” crowd tonight, perhaps, the Comets will find that extra gear tonight.

 

Writers note: I’m writing and covering as much as I can before I head out to catch up with friends. Depending on my intoxication levels, I might try to finish my recap when I get back home. Otherwise, you’ll likely notice me fluctuating from saying “tonight” and “Friday night” as I lose track of my tenses.

 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the starting lineup!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Hamilton (#36) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Camper (#19) Lind (#13)
Arseneau (#18) Perron (#27) Bancks (#34)
Gadjovich (#21) Jasek (#9) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Chatfield (#5)
Sautner (#6) Rafferty (#25)
Teves (#4) Blujus (#8)
G
Zane McIntyre

 

Fortunately, Cull broke up that Sautner/Chatfield pairing, which was just abhorrent against the Devils on Wednesday. It looks like Jasek got demoted to centering a returning Jonah Gadjovich and Dyson Stevenson. That’s certainly one way to inspire your struggling center to produce.

I’m still convinced Jasek has upside as a winger, but his crucial development years are getting wasted as the Canucks organization flounders at providing the necessary center depth to this club. Gadjovich returns after missing the last 14 games due to an “upper-body strain.” Gadjovich looked impressive in his first few games with the Comets, so hopefully the time off hasn’t caused him to lose a step.

I like that Trent Cull is going with the Arseneau/Perron/Bancks line. Those three were easily the Comets best forwards against Binghamton. Maybe playing in front of their fellow Frenchmen, Perron and Arseneau will be inspired to score a bunch for friends and family who made the trek out to Laval.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Seamus Malone (arm) Olli Juolevi (not the knee)

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Tanner Sorenson Mitch Eliot Justin Taylor

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

The Score at the end of the 1st period: 1-1 Tie

 

Comets amazingly end the period with a lead in shots-on-goal, but boy their chances weren’t very impressive. Comets look like they’re trying to land shots square into the chest of Primeau or something. Uninspiring hockey is how I would describe the opening twenty minutes. Not a whole lot is happening. Both teams are playing very boring hockey outside of the odd-man-rushes that the Rocket have been getting for themselves. Surely, the coaching staff recognizes the number of odd-man-rushes this team gives up on a nightly basis. Passing game weak, son!

 

2nd Period

 

THIS IS WHERE I STOPPED WATCHING LAST NIGHT – I am so…so hungover. I am sorry if sentence structure and grammar goes out the window.

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 3-1 Rocket

 

Comets dominated in the second period start to finish as numerous defensive lapses compound into three-straight goals for the Rocket. Comets are battling, but once that puck starts getting played in the Comets side of the neutral zone, it is nothing but repeated positioning lapses that give way to odd-man rushes for the Rocket. Outshot ten to six over twenty minutes, with the majority of those shots being high-danger opportunities for Laval. Comets need to show some fire and start battling to set up in the Rocket’s zone.

 

3rd period

 

 

Despite an incredibly late attempt at evening things out, yet another poor defensive effort from the Comets sinks them. Will have to hope they reset with a better effort for Saturday’s rematch (spoiler alert, they did).

 

Final Score: 6-4 Laval Rocket

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Francis Perron Carter Camper Guillaume Brisebois PPG
1st Laval Josh Brook 5v5
2nd Laval Michael McCarron Riley Barber Gusav Olofsson 5v5
2nd Laval Jake Evans Riley Barber Nikita Jevpalovs 5v5
3rd Laval Otto Leskinen Jake Evans Alex Alain 5v5
3rd Utica Lukas Jasek Jonah Gadjovich Carter Camper ppg
3rd Laval Riley Barber Matthew Peca Michael McCarron PPG
3rd Laval Ryan Poehling Kevin Lynch 5v5
3rd Utica Carter Camper Jalen Chatfield Francis Perron 4v4
3rd Utica Jonah Gadjovich Francis Perron Guillaume Brisebois PPG

 

Takeaways

 

  • Jonah Gadjovich appears to have not missed a step, his hustle and compete level were present every single shift. Friday against the Rocket saw him showcasing his playmaking ability quite well through the early-goings of the game as well. His goal and assist Friday night put him at 3 points in 4 games played this season. A lot of people were talking about this being a bounce-back year for Kole Lind, but I think people are sleeping on Gadjovich pretty hard. I wrote about it tonnes last year that Gadjovich finally had things click for him in the final stretch of the season. Gadjovich’s performance against Laval is one of the lone shining stars of an otherwise dark and brutal game to watch.
  • Boucher had a very quiet game, as did Goldobin too, but I think that has to do a lot with their centermen being just piss-awful. Wacey Hamilton is out of his depth as a first-line center, and his frustration boiled over in the third when he took that nonsensical slashing penalty. Were there better centers available, I think he’d slide out of the lineup for tomorrow’s match. With Travis Green making a statement to management that he’d rather 3 minutes of Tyler Graovac on the wing over Loui Eriksson, I can’t envision a scenario where the Comets get any help at center in the immediate future. Maybe Antoine Roussel comes down for a conditioning stint and plays center with Goldy and Bouch. Until then, Hamilton will have to do. It’s just unfortunate that the games of two of the Comets best forwards have to suffer most because of it.
  • Lukas Jasek had an impressive game Friday, all things considered. Jasek came out with a -1 rating for +/-, but was on the ice for three of the Comets four goals, while scoring one of his own on the powerplay. He was quite sound defensively tonight despite his negative +/-. Legit nothing he could do about Chatfield having a brainfart after a faceoff and just outright ignoring his check in the crease of McIntyre. Nor, could Jasek have done anything regarding, McIntyre allowing his second of four five-hole goals.
  • Speaking of which, McIntyre was pretty bad. Like, “oh, I see why Providence had no problem letting him go,” bad. For McIntyre’s second straight start, he posted a sub 0.820 save percentage, and a goals-against-average higher than 4.00. At this point, it’s hard to justify him getting the majority of starts for the Comets because his play has regressed to where it was with Providence last season. Let MDP play because the Comets aren’t getting any support from McIntyre in net. Obviously, it goes without saying that the Comet’s atrocious defensive coverage is also causing a lot of these goals-against. But four weak five-hole goals in a row is unacceptable for an AHL starter.
  • Jalen Chatfield was pulled from the Ashton Sautner pairing because that pair did atrociously against Binghamton. Friday night, the Chatfield, Brisebois pairing played just as atrociously. I’m all for Chatfield “playing with heart,” sacrificing the body, playing physical, and skating hard. But at what point is the team going to realize that Chatfield has been a drag in every pairing he’s been moved to? If he was contributing offense on a nightly basis, I would be able to forgive his defensive lapses. But he does not produce at the AHL level. Right now, the only thing keeping him in the lineup is his compete level and the fact that he can kill penalties. By my tracking, however, when Chatfield is on the penalty kill, the Comets give up the most shots. He leads the Comets in CORSI-against while on the penalty-kill by a 13 point margin.
  • Carter Camper and Francis Perron had pretty solid nights, with both picking up three points apiece. Perron displayed great tenacity on the puck Friday and some sharp agility on multiple backchecking moments. There were a couple plays where he stood around watching the play unfold from the corner of the defensive-zone, but otherwise, the dude played good. Quietly, Perron has been one of the Comets best forwards this season, as he now sits with four goals and ten assists in 16 games played for the Comets
  • After Saturday’s match against the Rocket, we’ll have reached the quarter-way mark of the season. This season, I’ve spent a lot of my time manually tracking CORSI/FENWICK related events. The purpose is for me to be able to provide a more comprehensive analysis of player performances. Now that the sample size has grown quite a bit, I’m excited to get into some report cards for the players. I’ve reached out to top men who know this stuff way better than I do. Hopefully, I’ve done my homework on the correct data to record, and I can confidently start discussing my findings to all you beautiful people who read my recaps. So despite the Comets brutal November slump, I’m excited that there’s some good that can from it!

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Francis Perron
  • Carter Camper
  • Jonah Gadjovich

 

The Comets Trajectory?

They played earlier today, and now that I’ve sweated all the booze out of my system, I’ll move on to reviewing this afternoon’s rematch against the Rocket! Hopefully, have that one out later tonight!

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/20/19 – Utica Comets vs. Binghamton Devils

Good evening Canucks Nation, it’s time to check in on the Farm to see how their November is going!

 

oh…right

 

Well, tonight the Comets face off against familiar foe, the Binghamton Devils.

The Devils visit the Adirondack Bank Center off a 3-2 Loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds. The Comet’s last outing saw them get out to an early two-goal lead over the Rochester Americans. Unfortunately, the Comets exhausted themselves early and went on to give up four straight unanswered goals to end up losing 4-3.

In theorem, the Comets will come into tonight’s matchup well-rested and ready to take on a team whom they’ve only lost to, once, this season.

Against “Bingo” this season, the Comets have managed four wins and just one loss, while outscoring their opponent, 17 to 11, across those five games. The return of Reid Boucher should make goalscoring for this Comet’s club a bit easier tonight.

Tonight, the Comets see the return of Carter Camper, who had missed the last eight games for the Comets with an upper-body injury. Camper’s absence, as well as the call-ups of Graovac and Gaudette, meant the Comets were rolling with just one true-center. Here’s hoping he hasn’t lost a step and picks up right where he left off!

The Binghamton Devils don’t have Corey Schneider in their lineup yet. Schneider had been given extra time to pack for his move to the minors, and thus wouldn’t be in Utica for tonight’s matchup. In net, however, is the New Jersey Devils, 217 5th round draft pick, Gilles Senn. To date, the Devils have played Evan Cormier or Louis Domingue against the Comets. But with Domingue’s call-up to the Devils, Bingo has chosen to give their rookie netminder the start for tonight’s action. The Comets should hit the inexperienced rookie quick and hard if they want to blow this game open early.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Hamilton (#36) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Camper (#19) Lind (#13)
Perron (#27) Jasek (#9) Bancks (#34)
Arseneau (#18) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Sautner (#6) Chatfield (#5)
Teves (#4) Blujus (#8)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

Well, the center situation certainly looks better, and the wings aren’t that bad either. Glad to see Josh Teves get slid back into the lineup. Teves made waves earlier this year when he led the AHL in +/-. Teves is still in the top-six of the league for that stat (yes I know it’s a pretty useless stat by today’s standards, but it’s all we’ve got…for now…)

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Seamus Malone (arm) Olli Juolevi (not the knee)

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Tanner Sorenson Mitch Eliot

 

1st period

 

Comets in their home Whites

 

 

The Score at the end of the 1st period: 2-1 Comets

 

Certainly an action-filled period, but a messy one from the Comets. Way too many giveaways from the Comets for my liking to consider the lead they generated, “a healthy one.” It seems like the Comets were barely hanging onto that period, thanks to the responsible defending of Brisebois and Rafferty. Di Pietro, once again, being asked to come up huge on more than one occasion for his team as they routinely allow the Devils to set up shop in point-blank range. Last time they had a two-to-one lead after the first period, they went on to give up three unanswered over the remaining two periods…Hopefully, that isn’t the case tonight.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 3-3Tie

 

Again, messy. Comets out-chanced the Devils and outshot them 16 to 11 over twenty minutes of the second period — good job by the Comets to stop the bleeding with that tying goal midway through the second. Comets are doing good to pepper the rookie goaltender, Senn with shots, but he’s been solid for the Devils tonight. Need to shore up on the giveaways if they want to break the tie in the third. MDP remains solid, despite the three goals-against. Comets defensive breakdowns have forced him to come up huge on multiple odd-man breaks for the Devils. That goal off of the Bailey giveaway is genuinely painful to watch.

 

3rd period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 3rd period: 4-4 Tie

 

Genuinely, an atrocious period of hockey for the Comets outside of that tiebreaking goal from Carter Bancks. Over the final 11 minutes of the game, the Devils outshot the Comets 13 to 3. Easily, 90% of those shots on goal were legit scoring chances too, not the fluttering shots from wherever that the Comets were throwing on Senn. Props to Di Pietro for keeping this 4-all; without him, I don’t think this game reaches overtime.

 

Overtime

 

 

Final Score: 5-4 Binghamton Devils

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Francis Perron Brogan Rafferty Guillaume Brisebois 5v5
1st Binghamton Brett Seney 5v5
1st Utica Nikolay Goldobin Brogan Rafferty PPG
2nd Binghamton Brett Seney Joey Anderson Ben Street 5v5
2nd Binghamton Chris Conner 5v5
2nd Utica Vincent Arseneau Carter Bancks Carter Camper 5v5
3rd Utica Carter Bancks Dylan Blujus Dyson Stevenson 5v5
3rd Binghamton Brandon Baddock Micahel McLeod Julian Melchiori 5v5
OT Binghamton Egor Sharangovich Ryan Schmelzer Dakota Mermis 3v3

 

Takeaways

 

  • At least they scored and weren’t shut out?
  • Defensively, this team was atrocious tonight. The giveaways, the blind passes right onto their opponent’s sticks, the missed passes into no-mans land, the lazy breakout attempts, just an awful look for the Comet’s defense. Physically they couldn’t even match up with the Devils. Sautner and Chatfield, the Comet’s two most physical defensemen, were ignored by the Devils every single time they were on the ice together in the Comets end. What is a coach to do if your most physical “shutdown” pairing is rendered completely ineffective by every Devils line? Sautner and Chatfield were both on ice for three goals against tonight and zero goals-for.
  • Speaking of goals-for! Lukas Jasek has two goals and two assists on the season. All four of his points came in the first five games of the season when he was playing with Sven Baertschi, Nikolay Goldobin, or Reid Boucher. The move to center has undoubtedly been a struggle for the Czech forward. At what point do the Comets/Canucks management group give up on this stupid experiment and bring in an AHL center to relieve Jasek of his duties. Jasek’s move to center wasn’t born out of some “Elias Pettersson-like” belief in his talent to transition. It was born out of the need for more centers since they didn’t do enough to prep the Comets for a season without Gaudette or Graovac. That’s just completely unacceptable…they’re tanking his development by wasting his time at center. Put him back on the left-wing where he can utilize his skills effectively. He is way too small and way too old to be learning how to play center on-the-fly in the AHL. As a guy who praised Jasek’s two-way game last season, it’s painful seeing him waste his season trying to plug an organizational hole. He’s still doing great defensively. He’s tied for second on the team in +/- with +8, but the points just aren’t coming as he struggles to adapt his playmaking from the boards to center-ice.
  • Justin Bailey was godawful tonight. Like legitimately, outside of the team having bad defensive games, Bailey single-handedly gave the game away with his giveaways. Right now, the only thing making him useful is he can play net-front on the powerplay, and he can skate really fast. The only problem is, he does nothing with either of those skills. He repeatedly wheels into his opponent’s zone for low percentage shots on goal, or blind passes that get picked off. For a guy with his size and his speed, you’d think he’d be able to create space like no other on the ice. There’s such a lack of communication between Bailey and the team around him that most Comets players end up watching him wheel around with no plan of action. The novelty of his blistering speed has worn off, now that it’s evident that he doesn’t quite know what to do with it.
  • His save percentage and goals-against-average will not reflect it, but Michael Di Pietro did everything he could to keep the Comets in it tonight. Look at the games shot map. The Devil’s hammered Di Pietro with shots from the high-slot. The Comet’s efforts to box out Devils forwards from taking these high-danger shots in those areas was nearly non-existent. Half of the time, the Comets just let the Devils walk-in for shots from those areas too. Just rewatch that streamable from the first period where Wacey Hamilton changes off to allow the Devils to waltz in for a clean shot on goal…that was the entire game. The Comets, team-wide, need to do a better job at stifling their opponent’s zone-entries
  • Was disappointed to see Kole Lind disappear after the first two periods. I have to think that monstrous hit on him shook him up or something. Through the games opening 35 minutes, Lind was ferocious on the puck and single-handedly created some of the Comet’s most dangerous chances to start the game. Didn’t like the way he went down on the ice, and I don’t like the idea that there’s no concussion spotters that would’ve pulled him after that hit for a look, because he seriously got laid the fuck out. He did have some defensive lapses that allowed the Devils to tie up the game. However, at least his mistakes came from him trying to help, and not just from standing still watching the play.
  • Carter Bancks had himself a solid game, one goal, one assist and a +3 on the night. His tiebreaker goal tonight was his fourth on the season, and it ties his goal-total from last season in a quarter of the games played. Good start from the Comets Captain, who was an offensive black-hole last year. Still needs to avoid taking stupid penalties, though. That slashing penalty on the PK could’ve been the straw that broke the camels back. Fortunately, for him, Dylan Blujus was there to come up big on the 5-on-3 PK to bail out the Comets.
  • Boucher had one of his worst games of the season as well. I bet he’d like to forget that opening period, where he had multiple giveaways while holding the offensive zone. Bouch managed to record four shots on goal but wasn’t his usual dangerous self tonight.
  • Rafferty had himself one weird-ass game too. Two assists, three shots on goal, on-ice for two goals-for, and zero goals-against. But his defensive play was suspect AF tonight. Numerous giveaways in his end that nearly resulted in direct goals-against. Couple of failed pinches in the offensive and defensive zone that resulted in odd-man rushes. That being said, on a lot of his errors, he had great plays to backcheck and make up for it with takeaways or clearing attempts. It’s tough to evaluate him. Rafferty’s smooth ability to carry the puck and create offense under pressure in his rookie AHL year make him one of the Canucks top defensive prospects. I’ll always take a d-man with an OK defensive game if he can move and control the puck like he can. As opposed to, say, Jalen Chatfield, who can skate and play the body on a lot of his defensive efforts, but can’t create offense to save his life when he’s in the offensive zone. Tonight was somehow one of Rafferty’s worst games, but also somehow one of his more complete efforts as he showed off the full range of his skillset in both ends of the ice, for better or for worse.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Carter Bancks
  • The Comets fourth-line for all the chances they generated that kept the game as even as it was

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets return this Friday for a weekend roadie double-header when they face off against the Laval Rocket. The Alex Burrows coached (assistant) Rocket sit 3rd in the AHL’s North Division, two points above the Comets. The Rocket has had a near inverse month of November, as they’ve gone 7-1-2-0 in their past ten, compared to the Comets 3-6-1-0. Fingers crossed the Comets can shore up on some of the defensive lapses that plagued tonight’s game against the Devils before this critical back-to-back tilt.

 

I’m catching up with friends Friday night, so I’ll likely have the recap out Saturday morning, or a double-digest out on Sunday.

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/16/19 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

Never mind the darkness, we still can find a way, ’cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain. Those were the words of Axl Rose some 27 years ago. Tonight, I sit listening to the pouring rain outside of my nerd-room window, quietly clutching a photograph of Olli Juolevi’s legs. Praying to the heavens that his visit with the Canucks medical staff yields nothing serious.

 

Them’s the breaks, however, as Olli Juolevi once again is being recalled to the Canucks for medical examination. Juolevi’s injury comes just three games earlier than when he went down last season. I know a majority of Canucks nation are firmly rooted in the “he’s a bust, I knew he’d never pan out” crowd, or in the “give him time he’s still a player for this team!” crowd. But shit, seeing a prospect have two seasons derailed back-to-back like this is nothing short of devastating.

 

Yes, his speed at the AHL level this season and last were not up to par. Yes, Matthew Tkachuk is an NHL all-star. Yes, we know you wanted the Canucks to trade down and draft Charlie MacAvoy because you were sure he’d be an NHL’er.

 

Dammit, can people get off their soapboxes on twitter and say, “shit, Olli, I hope its nothing serious, and you can bounce-back this season!” Why is a loud majority of Canuck nation so invested in being happy with Juolevi’s struggles?

 

Using a 22-year-olds career-threatening injuries as a reason to prop up your “I knew it!” narrative is just in poor taste. If an exec comes out in five years, saying, “yah, Jim and John vetoed the Tkachuk pick to draft for need.” Then sure, criticize that. Until that happens, give the player they took a break. You can’t sit there and deny how derailed his development’s been due to back and knee surgeries.

 

He’s been a warrior down in Utica despite being relied on way too much by the coaching staff. It boggles the mind that the Canucks brass spent all of pre-season talking about how important Juolevis’ load-management was. To then go and give him 14 games straight of first pairing minutes at even strength, 1st unit powerplay quarterbacking duty, AND first rotation penalty-killing duty. After 14 games played, Juolevi leads the team in blocks/deflected shots. The kid laid his body on the line to prevent pucks from going in the net.

 

Direct your blame towards the coaching and management staff for overplaying the kid. Don’t blame the kid for putting everything he had into every shift to make up for what’s been an absolutely brutal period of development.

 

Now that I’m crying let’s get into tonight’s lineup as the Comets take on division rival, the Rochester Americans.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Hamilton (#36) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Jasek (#9) Lind (#13)
Arseneau (#18) Perron (#27) Bancks (#34)
Teves (#4) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Sautner (#6) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Blujus (#8) Eliot (#52)
G
Zane McIntyre

 

So Seamus Malone may have re-broke his arm that he mangled last year. Malone, if you didn’t know, missed his entire summer training due to an arm break that occurred in one of the Comets final games last season. Because Malone’s injury happened so late last night, the Comets weren’t able to get a forward up in time. Rookie defenceman, Josh Teves, instead, slides up to a fourth-line winger spot alongside Justin Taylor and Dyson Stevenson.

This bodes well for my “get Vinny Arseneau back with Francis Perron” dream. Big Vin slides in with two guys who he had shown great chemistry with earlier this season.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Carter Camper (upper-body) Seamus Malone (arm) Olli Juolevi (not the knee)

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Tanner Sorenson (technically not here)

 

1st period

 

Comets in their home Whites

 

 

The Score at the end of the 1st period: 2-1 Comets

 

An interesting period. After getting out to an early two-goal lead, the Comets seemed to slow down significantly. The slow-down allowed the Amurks to generate some considerable momentum over the final ten minutes of the frame. After allowing just one shot on goal through the first ten, the Amurks then rattled off seven through the final ten. Not sure if that was a coaching decision, or if the early outburst was the last of the team’s energy reserves after last nights’ grueling match with Syracuse?

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-2 Tie

 

Not exactly a riveting period, as the Comets get outshot seven to five over twenty minutes of play. Comets are looking exhausted as they continue to get out-muscled by the Amurks in their end while struggling to set-up any cycle at even-strength in the Amurks end. Goldobin and Boucher continue to be dangerous, the Amurks, however, are doing everything in their power to muscle the Comets out of high-danger scoring areas. Not sure if this is due to exhaustion, but the Comets set-ups are coming way too slow. Too often, the Comet’s players drive down the wings, hit the breaks, and then pause. After what feels like an eternity, they then wait for the entire Comets lineup to enter the zone before deciding what to do next. Speed kills! Gotta be faster boys if you want to beat the size & strength of the Rochester Americans.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 4-3 Rochester Americans

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Vincent Arseneau Francis Perron Guillaume Brisebois 5v5
1st Utica Nikolay Goldobin Reid Boucher Justin Bailey PPG
1st Rochester Zach Redmond Pascal Aquin Lawrence Pilut 5v5
2nd Rochester Andrew Oglevie Kevin Porter Brett Murray 5v5
3rd Rochester Sean Malone Eric Cornel 5v5
3rd Rochester Casey Nelson Jacob Bryson Brett Murray PPG
3rd Utica Brogan Rafferty Reid Boucher Wacey Hamilton 6v5

 

Takeaways

 

  • The size and strength of the Rochester Americans once again proves to be too much for this Comets lineup. For the second time in as many weeks, the Comets spend 60 minutes struggling to establish a cycle against the hard-hitting big-boys of the Amurks. I spoke at length after their last meeting with the Amurks that the Comets needed to be faster to set up offense against a team like Rochester. Rochester has shown time and time again that they can easily bully the Comets diminutive forwards out of high-danger scoring areas. It’s no surprise that the Comets first line was the most successful tonight, their success came from quick set-ups and faster shots. The rest of the forward group needs to take note of how to beat size and strength if they want to be effective at the AHL level. Repeatedly skating themselves into the corners to avoid hits, while praying their no-look rink-wide centering feeds work out is no way to produce at this level. Unfortunately, the Comets bottom nine spent the majority of tonight hoping that playstyle would work.
  • Boucher continues to be a force for the Comets, as he notches two assists and records ten shots on goal. When I come back and track CORSI for this one, I’m genuinely curious what his rating is going to be. Guy was a threat every shift. That kinda iffy double-minor late in the third likely prevented any significant comeback for the Comets.
  • Lukas Jasek needs to be shown tape on how to drive to the net. The kid is off-role, so I understand this will, of course, lead to confidence issues. Right now, he’s playing scared though, scared to make a mistake offensively, so he routinely takes the easy pass over the scoring play. His speed isn’t that bad either, but too often tonight, Jasek would get the puck and either pass out to the wings or dump the puck. Away from the puck, Jasek is infinitely more likely to peel off for a back-check instead of aggressively forecheck in either the neutral or offensive zone. I’m all for solid two-way play, but my numbers show that Jasek is routinely allowing his opponents to control the puck while he is on the ice. It may not always result in goals-against, but the time spent allowing opponents to control the puck is time not spent putting pucks in the net.
  • Still unsure of the choice to play McIntyre in a back-to-back. Last night, McIntyre posted a .913 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against-average after saving 21 of 23 shots-against. Tonight against Rochester, McIntyre posted an incredibly weak, .818 save percentage and a 4.20 (nice) goals-against-average after saving just 18 of 22 shots-against. MDP has been lights-out for the team this season…give the kid a start on the back-to-back. For reference, the Comet’s double-header last Friday/Saturday; Michael Di Pietro put up back to back save percentages of .935 and .933, as well as goals-against-averages of 2.04 and 1.91. MDP that weekend faced 61 shots total, McIntyre this weekend met 45. Give the kid a game in the back-to-back’s.
  • Comically, Vinny Arseneau got the Comet’s only star of the game. Apparently, ten shots and two assists don’t mean shit, haha. Arseneau ended his night, third on the team for shots-on-goal. Despite his line tapering off quite hard early, I still like the Perron/Arseneau combination. They have some strange innate chemistry. Must be the French connection or something.
  • Comets had to have been playing this one exhausted, and Trent Cull shortened his bench like crazy after the first period. Teves didn’t look good as a forward, and in general, that line was just chewing minutes for the team. Perron and the third-line were pretty invisible about halfway through the first period. Tonight was, essentially, Reid Boucher versus the Rochester Americans.
  • Brogan Rafferty had himself a decent game, he certainly didn’t have as many unforced turnovers, which was nice. He tapered back the amount of one-timer blasts from the blue line tonight, however, and was much more involved in stepping up into the rush. Case and point, that final goal of the game where he’s providing net-front presence. Overall, a solid two-way game from him tonight. Brogan was on for all three goals-for, registering one goal on four shots while being on the ice for just one of the goals-against.
  • Dylan Blujus and Ashton Sautner were relied on heavily tonight by the coaching staff. Have to think that’s because of Juolevi’s absence. Both guys were given plenty of time at even-strength and on the penalty-kill to settle things down. Sautner played a very physical game tonight and was instrumental in clearing the front of McIntyre’s net. Given how often I saw him on the ice, I was surprised to see Sautner was on the ice for just one of the goals-against. Blujus wasn’t as lucky as he wound up on the ice for two goals-against.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Brogan Rafferty
  • Nikolay Goldobin

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets get another four-day break heading into their next matchup when they face off against the Binghamton Devils for the sixth time this season.

 

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/15/19 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

Good evening Canucks Nation! It’s time for another catch-up on the Farm! Tonight the Utica Comets hit the road to take on the Syracuse Crunch.

The Crunch are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Rochester Americans, while the Comets are coming off a nice four-day vacation. The Comets last game was a 3-1 loss to non-other than, well, the Syracuse Crunch!

 

As we all know, the Canucks called up Zack MacEwen and Tyler Graovac in lieu of injuries to Tyler Motte, Micheal Ferland, Jay Beagle, and Brandon Sutter. I’m sure there’s more to that list that I’m forgetting.

 

Safe to say the Comets opening lineup is going to be put to the test tonight. Fortunately, the Comets do get some reprieve, as Reid Boucher slides back into the lineup for the first time in five games. Boucher’s goalscoring has been sorely missed by the Comets over the past five games, as the Comets have managed just seven goals in the five games without Bouch.

 

Let’s get into the starting lineup and the game itself!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Hamilton (#36) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Jasek (#9) Lind (#13)
Malone (#17) Perron (#27) Bancks (#34)
Arseneau (#18) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Sautner (#6) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Blujus (#8) Eliot (#52)
G
Zane McIntyre

 

Wacey Hamilton is your farm team’s number one center. Let that sink in.

Josh Teves remains a healthy scratch after leading all AHL rookies in plus/minus through the first month of the season… but hey, what do I know about roster management!

Speaking of roster management!

Olli Juolevi slides out of tonight’s lineup, apparently not an injury, just a precautionary “load management” thing.

 

https://twitter.com/OD_Birnell/status/1195492204342587392?s=20

 

Given the team just had four days off, It’s bizarre to me that now Juolevi needs to be given “precautionary scratches.” Not in the sense that I don’t think they should be careful with his knee. Just that the Comets to-date, have not been playing Juolevi with any pretense of caution towards his recovery. Through the start of this season, Juolevi has been playing first pairing minutes, at evens, and on both the first powerplay and penalty-kill units. Did the coaching staff not think to simply, not overload him with playing time every single night? Really hope they didn’t overdo it with him already. Maybe I’m reading too far into things. However, it seems weird to call this scratching, “load management” when up until now Juolevi’s been given the Alex Edler duties at the AHL level. Not sure I buy the logic here.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Carter Camper (upper-body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman Josh Teves Stefan LeBlanc

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

The Score at the end of the 1st period: 1-1 Tie

 

An exciting period where the Comets outshoot the Crunch ten to six, but a lack of discipline gives the Crunch some badly needed momentum to close out the period. Comets are controlling play quite well after twenty minutes of action, just need to settle-down their passes in the offensive zone. Barring the blunder on the second powerplay, it was a strong period of play from Kole Lind. Boucher looks like a man trying to regain his spot at the top of the AHL’s goalscoring list.

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 4-2 Comets

 

What a crazy period of hockey as the Comets outshoot the Crunch eleven to eight, score three goals, and get themselves four powerplays! Practically all of this happened after the halfway point of the period to boot. Guys finally getting rewarded with goals after stellar play. It may be weird to say, but this team actually looks better now than they did with MacEwen, and Graovac in the lineup. The team is doing infinitely better at driving to high-danger scoring areas to create scoring chances — an area of concern that I addressed in last weekend’s Harvests. I have to commend the Comet’s effort levels tonight in light of the adversity they’re facing. The Crunch made them look foolish on Monday, and right now, they’re making the Crunch look like amateurs.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 5-2 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Reid Boucher Kole Lind 5v5
1st Syracuse Alex Barre-Boulet Cameron Gaunce Chris Mueller PPG
2nd Utica Kole Lind Nikolay Goldobin Brogan Rafferty PPG
2nd Syracuse Boris Katchouk Ross Colton Taylor Raddysh PPG
2nd Utica Reid Boucher Nikolay Goldobin Mitch Eliot 5v5
2nd Utica Carter Bancks Francis Perron Ashton Sautner 5v5
3rd Utica Reid Boucher EN/SH

 

Takeaways

 

  • Great effort from the Comets special teams tonight in a brutal grind of a game. Tomorrow’s game against Rochester will be a tough one given how many minutes the Comets top players logged tonight. Kole Lind looked exhausted by the end of the game as he was continually eating even-strength and powerplay minutes. While guys, like Bancks, and Hamilton were on for practically the entire game, with even-strength and an insane amount of penalty killing minutes.
  • Strong game from Reid Boucher in his return as he nets a hat-trick to put himself back on top of the AHL goal-scoring race. After five games missed due to injury, amazingly, just one player managed to overtake Bouch, and that was the Penguins Stefan Noesen. In just one game, Boucher managed to both tie and overtake Noesen’s lead. Guy was playing lights-out hockey tonight, as he logged critical minutes at evens, shorthanded, and on the powerplay. Guy was everywhere tonight and the difference-maker for this club.
  • Goldobin continues to be a stud at the AHL level, as he notched two assists tonight to put him fifth in the AHL for assists. He slowed down a bit in the third period, but to be honest, I think that may have had to do more with him getting benched through all the penalty-killing. That was a lot of time for a majority of the Comets forwards to sit and wait out the Crunch’s powerplay try’s. Loved seeing him get involved in board-battles while not giving up on his flash and panache playmaking. Kids got a great attitude since coming to the Comets, and this was a great game for him to make a case for his place alongside the Canucks top-six. He just sees offense in a completely different way than anyone else on the Comets. He finds people almost at-will. That pass through two Crunch sticks to find Arseneau on the doorstep was just, *makes Italian finger-kissing gesture*, beautiful. I know most people on this sub are done with him, but I don’t see how anyone can deny him a chance at this point.
  • Kole Lind had a return to form tonight, which was nice to see. He reminded me a bit of Gaudette with some of the moves he was pulling off on Crunch players through the offensive zone. He still needs to work on his overall two-way game, but if he can find the confidence in his game so that games like tonight happen regularly, then the other aspects will eventually come too.
  • Rafferty has easily jumped everyone on the depth chart for that best RD in the pipeline. He’s just so smooth everywhere on the ice. He had no glaring defensive errors tonight from what I saw. His ability to transition and carry the puck from his end to the offensive zone is a huge bonus to his value. The Canucks gain a lot from having a cost-controlled RD who can move the puck with his skating.
  • Didn’t come up much tonight, nor does he come up much on most nights, but Brisebois had a pretty solid game for himself. His speed is great, and he pairs nicely with Rafferty. His offensive contributions are still a huge work in progress, but considering he can wheel, and move the puck up ice on his own is a positive. He’s certainly worked on his puck handling while under pressure. Too often last season, Brisebois would panic while under pressure and just throw the puck wherever, but this season he’s stayed way more composed. Maybe, a lot of that has to do with having a d-partner like Rafferty on his right-side? Who knows, but it’s good that with a d-corps this young, that guys like Brisebois and Rafferty can hold it down in spite of their inexperience.
  • If Malone’s arm-injury is serious, I wonder what the Comets do to get a body in Utica in-time for Saturday’s game against Rochester? The Kalamazoo Wings have Dylan Sadowy available who could maybe get there in time. In nine games to start the ECHL season, Sadoway has eleven goals and five assists. The KWings also have Yannick Veilleux, who has quite a bevy of AHL experience, who likely could fill in the bottom-six role that Malone was providing. Again, that’s if they can even get them here in time. They could also opt to call-up someone from the Adirondack Thunder. Someone like Ara Nazarian, a 23-year-old left-winger who was signed by the Thunder after a four-year stint with the University of New Hampshire. Food for thought.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Kole Lind
  • Nikolay Goldobin

HM: Carter Bancks,

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets will look to build off this impressive return to form when they play at home, tomorrow, in a pivotal match against North Division, the Rochester Americans!

 

If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/11/19 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

Good afternoon Canucks Nation, on this fine Remembrance Day afternoon! Today we head over to Utica, New York, to watch the Comets take on division rival, the Syracuse Crunch.

 

The Comets recently ended their four-game losing streak, with a gutsy comeback effort against the Binghamton Devils. Today, they face off against a struggling Syracuse Crunch team who are coming off a shutout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The last time these two teams met, the Comets dominated in a 6-2 rout.

 

Let’s make this one quick so that we can get back to our Remembrance day festivities, er, dinner? Do people make Remembrance day dinners? Am I so out of touch?

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Bailey (#95) Graovac (#44) MacEwen (#15)
Goldobin (#77) Hamilton (#36) Lind (#13)
Bancks (#34) Jasek (#9) Perron (#27)
Arseneau (#18) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
LeBlanc (#3) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael DiPietro

 

Cull reusing the same lineup from Saturday’s effort, with the exception being a switch to the starting center for the Graovac, MacEwen line. They swapped at some point during the game on Saturday. Glad to see it. Hopefully, the chemistry carries over into this Monday afternooner.

Di Pietro, with his third straight start today against Syracuse. He’s been lights out this weekend, but this will likely be his first real litmus test as an AHL goalie to see if he can handle the starter workload.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Reid Boucher (knee) Carter Camper (upper-body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Josh Teves Richard Bachman Seamus Malone Dylan Blujus (family matter)

 

1st period

 

Comets in their Veterans Day Green Camo alternates

 

 

Score at the end of the First Period: 2-0 Crunch

 

Comets down by two, but they still have a lot of time to get something going in this one. Comets are throwing a lot of heat towards the net of Spencer Martin, but not enough from high-danger areas. Crunch having no problem boxing the Comets out to the outsides of the circles for shots-on-net. Comets are just so slow at capitalizing on space creation. A lot of wheeling around the offensive zone from the Comets forwards, but once they create space for their teammates, its as if time stops as they try to figure out what to do with it. The extra time allotted to plan their next move undoes all the effort put into creating space that would enable a quality scoring chance. Not sure if that’s a chemistry thing or confidence thing, but oh boy, they need to speed it up in the offensive zone when they do these set-plays. Comets outshot 11-to-7 after twenty minutes of play.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-0 Crunch

 

Dreadfully boring period. Comets outshot the Crunch with, get this, seven shots, to the Crunch’s four. And that’s with the Comets getting two powerplay tries. Comets are just looking out of their depths when it comes to setting up meaningful offense. Most significant scoring chance came on that Jasek/Lind odd-man-rush. Otherwise, its floating shots from outside the circle or the point that get easily sticked/blocked aside by Crunch defenders. The Crunch’ don’t even have to do much to defend, as the Comets routinely put themselves in disadvantageous scoring positions with extra moves through the Crunch’s zone.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 3-1 Syracuse Crunch

 

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Syracuse Boris Katchouk Cory Conacher Chris Mueller 5v5
1st Syracuse Chris Mueller Dennis Yan Cameron Gaunce PPG
3rd Utica Nikolay Goldobin Zack MacEwen Brogan Rafferty PPG
3rd Syracuse Boris Katchouk EN

 

Takeaways

 

  • ¯_(ツ)_/¯
  • I said it several times in tonight’s writeup. The Comets are playing around too much in the offensive zone. No point in wheeling around the ice to draw in defenders to create space, if it takes an extra three moves for the forwards to then make the pass for a shot on goal. Tonight at least saw the team drop the amount of “cute” no-look, drop feeds to no one. The result, however, was 60 minutes of lifeless hockey, as the Comets struggled ad nauseam to get themselves into quality shooting positions physically.
  • He didn’t get burned repeatedly on the powerplay, and he was a shot-blocking machine tonight on the penalty kill. Overall, a positive, Tanev-like, performance from Juolevi tonight as he repeatedly sacrificed his body to thwart every Crunch powerplay scoring opportunity single-handedly. Ironically, the one powerplay goal the Crunch scored was when Juolevi was in the dressing room getting his arm looked at.
  • Very good performance from Kole Lind tonight as he led the team in shots-on-goal. Still looks weak on his skates, here and there, but, otherwise, he was the Comets most dangerous forward when it came to high-danger scoring chances.
  • Same goes for Lukas Jasek, who had a couple odd-man-rushes created off his defensive efforts. He’s a sneaky good two-way player, but his offensive side does need improvement if he ever wants to earn a look with the Canucks. He does have the best defensive game out of all the Canucks forward prospects, so that token alone might elevate him above the rest. Travis Green and co have spoke at length about how a forward call-up would likely be for someone to fill-in the bottom-six. A quality defensive game, like Jasek, might be all the difference that puts him above someone like MacEwen. Still, though, buddy really needs to work on his shot.
  • Unlucky night for Michael Di Pietro, who looked fantastic outside of the weak Katchouk goal. Legitimately nothing could be done to help him on that powerplay goal from Chris Mueller. Mueller was left completely alone on the doorstep as the penalty-killers played way too far out on the play. Suppose MDP could’ve been faster with his right-to-left slide, but that slap-pass from Gaunce was a rocket, would’ve been a tough save, even for an experienced vet, like McIntyre.
  • The Bailey, MacEwen, and Graovac line was comically weak today. Not once did the three combine for a good looking passing play. All three elected to try and 1v5 on any shooting play. I guess it makes sense for Cull to throw the selfish players all on one line, so they don’t drag down the team-players on other lines. But holy moly, watching two of the fastest guys on the team routinely get boxed out, or muscled out along the boards as they tried to solo-rush on goal was embarrassing.
  • Overall, not much to like about that game whatsoever. The team couldn’t stay out of the penalty box to save their lives, and they were pathetic on the powerplay. If they cant utilize space with the man-advantage, then I don’t know how this team is going to get it done at even-strength.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Kole Lind
  • Lukas Jasek

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

Comets get a nice rest after this four-in-six stretch. They return Friday, November 15th, when they hit the road to face off (again) against the Syracuse Crunch. Hopefully, the four days of rest/practice time will do the team some wonders, as they need to figure some ish out.

 

If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/9/19 – Utica Comets vs. Binghamton Devils

Welcome, Canucks Nation, to the hungover edition of the Comets Harvest.

pre-emptive sorry for the sentence fragments. This edition took like five hours to write, and my brain is fried, haha

 

Last night, dreading having to write words about the team’s fifth straight loss, I thought it was for the best that the Comet’s and I got some alone time. The Comet’s went and played against Binghamton for the fifth time this season, while I instead played Overcooked while completely intoxicated.

 

Editors note: that game is really, really hard.

 

The time apart did both of us well, as the Comets decided to snap the streak in my absence! So let’s get into Saturday Night’s matchup and see if we can pick out some good and some bad in the team’s streak ender!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Graovac (#44) Lind (#13)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (#36) MacEwen (#15)
Bancks (#34) Jasek (#9) Perron (#27)
Arseneau (#18) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
LeBlanc (#3) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael DiPietro

 

Trent Cull proves to be one of my readers, as he elected to change nothing from his forward lines. The lone change he made was subbing out Josh Teves for defenceman Stefan LeBlanc. LeBlanc was a late addition to the Comets last season via trade with the Marlies for struggling forward Tanner MacMaster. LeBlanc was a solid stay-at-home defenseman for the Comets last season. I can only imagine that his addition into Saturday’s lineup was to get things settled down from the D, out. I like Teves, but I understand the move, the team can’t handle having five of its six defenceman joining the forwards for rushes on net.

 

According to Thomas Drance in his Utica Comets Armies, Jonah Gadjovich isn’t expected back until early December due to back spasms! Given Gadjovich’s physical playstyle, the amount of time he’s spent injured is quite concerning. He had a wicked good start to his season too, fingers crossed he recovers fully and can play out the remainder of the season unencumbered.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Reid Boucher (knee) Carter Camper (upper-body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Josh Teves Richard Bachman Seamus Malone Dylan Blujus (family matter)

 

1st period

 

Comets in their Green/White thirds

 

 

Score at the end of the First Period: 2-0 Devils

 

Score doesn’t reflect the compete level from the Comets after the first twenty minutes of play. Liked what I saw from LeBlanc and Eliot on the third pair, as well as Rafferty, as he continues to impress on the right side. Bailey and MacEwen have noticeably better chemistry. Fourth line once again appears to be dominant.

Overall, an incredibly active period, with the Devils outshooting the Comets 14-to-12. By my counts, however, the Comets finally started throwing everything they can on the net, as they out-chanced the Devils 34-to-21. That stat includes all shots, blocked and unblocked shots, and misses. I’ve been tracking this data for my Comets CORSI project which I’ve had in the works since the season started! Look for more of that data in future recaps once enough of a sample size has been put together!

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-0 Devils

 

A slightly less competitive period from the Comets, but they manage to avoid getting scored on, so I guess that’s a positive! They did register eight shots on goal to the Devils six and generally controlled the pace of play, but things did slow down heavily for them in the latter ten minutes of the period. Still really impressed with Rafferty’s game he’s having (had).

 

3rd period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 3rd period: 2-2 tie

 

The bounces finally start to go the Comets way, as the offensive pressure from all four lines finally pays off with two unanswered goals to force OT. I am definitely getting flashes of the October Comets with this gutsy performance. Love to see them battle hard and not give up after a tough first two periods. The final five minutes of the period were brutal on the team with that penalty kill.

 

Overtime

 

 

Final Score: 3-2 Utica Comets

 

Gutsy win from the Comets as they overcame some serious, late pressure from the Devils and two periods of awful puck luck to win it in overtime — great games from LeBlanc, Rafferty, MacEwen, Goldobin, Eliot, and Bailey.

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Binghamton Joe Morrow Ben Street Colton White 5v5
1st Binghamton Ben Street Joey Anderson Brett Seney ppg
3rd Utica Stefan LeBlanc Wacey Hamilton Mitch Eliot 5v5
3rd Utica Tyler Graovac Justin Bailey Brogan Rafferty 5v5
OT Utica Zack MacEwen Nikolay Goldobin Ashton Sautner 3v3

 

Takeaways

 

  • Talk about a comeback. The Comets come back from an early two-goal deficit, withstand some insane late pressure on the penalty kill in the third, to win it in overtime. A great win that hopefully leads to better performances from the team down the line
  • Wasn’t a perfect game from Stefan LeBlanc in his season debut, but when he stepped up to contribute offensively or defensively, he made it count. Like Brogan Rafferty, the timing of when to pinch is still a work in progress, but I liked his game tonight given his 12-game stint of sitting in the press box.
  • Much better game from Zack MacEwen than previous instances. Mac looked to be playing way more like we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him over the past season and a bit.
  • Beginning to wonder what Jalen Chatfield’s place on the right-side of the Comets defense. Mitch Eliot has shown to be adept in both the offensive and defensive side of the game. With LeBlanc and Teves showing they can handle PK duties in Chatfield’s absence, I have to wonder if he’ll find himself in the press-box by the time he returns. It’s certainly nice to have two guys on the right side who can actually land shots on goal from the blue line.
  • Shout out to Goldobin for looking involved everywhere tonight. Defensively he was playing way more physical. In the offensive zone, he finally stopped playing overly selfish and let chances be created off his shots-on-goal, instead of reacting to others shots-on-goal from his passing.
  • The last two losses for the Comets came because the team wasn’t throwing enough on heat on their enemy goaltenders. Tonight they were the polar opposite, that first period had the Comets throwing everything they had at Domingue to try and get themselves on the board. They may have slowed down over the final two frames, but they persevered to make it happen, so you have to appreciate it.
  • Wacey Hamilton is lucky the Comets have a dearth of centers at their disposal. Otherwise, he’d be my first pick to be in the press-box. Guy just takes the dumbest penalties constantly. If he could do anything other than skate fast and penalty kill, I wouldn’t mind, but his stick is weak on the puck, and numerous times tonight, great scoring opportunities died when the puck touched his stick. Fortunately for him, the return of Camper cant be confirmed anytime soon, so he’ll consistently find himself playing with players way above his skill ceiling.
  • Francis Perron was quite invisible tonight, really don’t remember him doing much of anything besides being on the ice for a couple powerplays. Still, think he’s best suite to center Arseneau/Stevenson.
  • Speaking of which, the Arseneau, Stevenson, and Taylor line put in work Saturday against the Devils. I think only one time did they ever not hem the Devils into their zone with pressure. Otherwise, these three were creating passing plays that would make the top-nine jealous. Justin Taylor had a glorious chance early and showed some decent speed throughout the night. For development’s sake, I’d prefer Malone back in that spot, but I appreciate that he’s instantly meshed with Arseneau and Stevenson and been effective in his role, so thoroughly.
  • On Dyson Stevenson; I think if you go back to one of my first Harvest’s of the season, I thought that Dyson Stevenson was playing like he could not hack it at the AHL level. Crazy to me that just thirteen games later, and he, alongside Arseneau, combine to be two of the team’s most dominant forwards. I’m still collecting data, but after tracking shots, both blocked, unblocked, misses, for and against, over the last thirteen games. I can confidently say that Arseneau and Dyson Stevenson are controlling play with CF% of 58% and 56%, respectively at even-strength. Even the Devils head-coach was rolling out his first-line to take faceoffs against the Comets fourth-line. The Devils first-line wasn’t enough to prevent the Comet’s fourth from establishing control in the Devils zone. Their hard-pressing, relentless physical-forecheck has proven to be problematic against every team they’ve faced this season, win or lose. That’s going to be a huge advantage for this team as the season chugs along if their fourth-line can earn them as many offensive-zone draws as they have this season. Longwinded way of saying, I’m very happy to eat my words on my thoughts on Stevenson’s ability.
  • Kole Lind continues to be a mystery player to me. Some times, he looks like a completely different player to the one he was last year. To games like tonight, where he looked weak and ineffective every time he touched the puck. For a guy with an agitator side to him, he absolutely needs to get stronger on the puck. He cannot be blowing tires every time he finds himself alone with time and space to transition the puck up ice. He looked ok, for the most part, tonight, but all of his problem areas that were glaringly obvious last season reared their heads against the Devils.
  • Juolevi only got burned twice tonight, so he had that going for him. He’s quickly being passed over on the depth chart’s by more sound defenceman on the left-side like Brisebois and Teves. I know people want to say that he’s still recovering from knee surgery. Well then somebody tell him to stop blocking shots on the PK with his bloody knees. It can’t go both ways. You can’t argue that his knees need time to recover, while he simultaneously blocks 8-12 shots a night with those very same knees.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Brogan Rafferty
  • Stefan LeBlanc
  • Zack MacEwen

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

I’ll be back at it again tomorrow afternoon when the Comets return to face off against the Syracuse Crunch at home. Syracuse is coming off a shutout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Utica dominated Syracuse in their last outing when they beat them at home in a 6-2 stomp. Not sure if this current lineup can exude that kind of dominance without the likes of Baertschi, Boucher, Camper, or Fantenberg in the lineup. Fingers crossed, however, that they show the kind of gumption that they showed off Saturday against Binghamton.

 

Again, sorry for the lateness on this one! Duty calls, and that duty…was booze and buddies.

 

If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/8/19 – Utica Comets vs. WBS Penguins

I’m going to preface this pre-amble with, “I don’t actually want this to happen.”

 

But how funny would it be if the Utica Comets dropped four straight losses after winning their first eight to start the year?

 

After getting off to the best start in franchise history, the Comets have seen their lead over the North Division disappear faster than the Vancouver summer weather. As it stands, the Comets sit in third place with sixteen points in eleven games played. After getting nothing out of their last three games, they now only have a three-win disparity between themselves and the seventh-ranked Binghamton Devils.

 

After the first two losses, the team could easily count their blessings that they had stockpiled a decent amount of wins early to carry them through rough patches. Unfortunately, they’re losing grip on the season at a rapid pace. The Wednesday loss to Binghamton was not pretty in the slightest. The Comets were out-shot by a two-to-one margin while playing selfish, individualistic hockey. The coaching staff had their work cut out for them coming out of the Binghamton match. Several players on the Comets, prospects and veterans need a wake-up call because the selfish hockey isn’t what led the team to eight straight victories. The lessons about teamwork that should have been learned while NHL-caliber players were still in the lineup, apparently did not stick. Hopefully tonight in front of the Utica faithful, the Comets young core stops trying to go it alone and come together to try and end the losing streak.

 

Again though, truly hilarious if the Comets went winless in November. For comedy’s sake, I can support the team playing terribly if that is the result.

 

The next step to a winless November is against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a battle between Dunder-Mifflin branches. The Comet’s first match with the Penguins was arguably their most impressive. After getting dominated by the Penguins, in which they gave up three unanswered goals. The Comets then rallied late to force overtime, where the Comets won with an overtime goal from Lukas Jasek. That improbable victory came off the back of Sven Baertschi’s brilliant playmaking. Without Boucher, Baertschi, or Camper, this could be another repeat of that domination.

 

However, Thomas Drance, as well as a bunch of Vancouver Canucks management folks, are at the game tonight. So perhaps the pressure of the big club’s presence motivates them into getting those offensive juices flowing to prevent that sort of thing from happening!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Graovac (#44) Lind (#13)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (#36) MacEwen (#15)
Bancks (#34) Jasek (#9) Perron (#27)
Arseneau (#18) Taylor (#14) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Teves (#4) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael DiPietro

 

Once again, Cull tosses his lines into a blender. Not a fan of the constant line shuffling, because eventually, the team will have to develop chemistry on their own. Hard to do that when it’s changed every single game.

 

Not sure why Seamus Malone is being subbed out for a career ECH’er. Malone had himself a brutal summer, he missed out on all of his training and both Canuck and Comet pre-season training camps, due to a mangled, broken arm. Considering he played half of his games last season on the wing. Malone’s done admirably in a 3rd/4th line capacity without any preparation.

I actually wish Perron was back playing with Arseneau again. Arseneau has honest to god been one of the teams better forwards this season, especially during this losing streak. His skating is solid, and his positioning is sound, he gives away the puck no more or less than his Comet compatriots. Given the kind of work that big Vinny and Franky Pepperoni (Perron) put in on the fourth line earlier this season, I would hope the team could reunite the duo. I have to believe that reuniting both while allotting them more ice-time would be beneficial to the team as a whole. At least, get Arseneau on the powerplay unit. He’s got a sneaky good bomb of a shot and can win board battles, which is something that cannot be said about the majority of this Comets lineup.

Still not vibing the Bailey/MacEwen pairing on a line. Both Bailey and MacEwen like to play 1v5 hockey. Neither has really shown any form of chemistry with the other.

The team is without Boucher, Camper, and Gadjovich for another game. Genuinely have to be concerned about Gadjovich’s health at this point. After looking solid through the team’s first few games, Gadjovich picked up an upper-body injury and has yet to play since. Tonight will be Gadj’s ninth game on the sidelines and puts him at 23 total games missed due to injury in his brief Comets career.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Reid Boucher (knee) Carter Camper (upper-body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Seamus Malone Dylan Blujus (family matter)

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

Score at the end of the First Period: 1-0 Comets

 

Despite the early goal from Mitch Eliot, this was a period marked by key saves from Michael Di Pietro. Penguin’s repeatedly peppering MDP with shots from point-blank range while the Comets collective stands idly by. Surely the Canucks management staff recognizes the lack of physicality from this Comets lineup, despite the size of so many players. Not a whole lot of it being used against this Penguins team tonight. Comets outshot twelve to eight after twenty minutes of action. I’m surprised to see the Comets had eight. After that opening goal, it felt like the majority of the period was spent in the Comets end.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 1-0 Comets

 

Certainly, a more competitive period than the first, as Comets hold steady with eight shots to the Penguins nine. Still letting the Penguins walk into shooting lanes uncontested for blasts on goal, but they’re at the very least doing better setting up plays in the Penguins end. Loving the play of Mitch Eliot tonight, he’s got solid speed and is stepping up at the right moments to provide offense. Good to see from the rookie. Teves is having himself a good night. Even though he’s had a couple moments of putting himself out of position, he’s shown great hustle to recover with his backchecking. Lind had a good period as well, shame about that Sautner penalty that ruined his best shift in several games.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 2-1 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

 

Comets outshot in the finale frame ten-to-seven, 31 to 23 overall. I don’t think I can say they took their foot off the gas because they didn’t play like their foot was ever on it. More like, they put the keys in the ignition, turned the car on to warm it up, then went back inside to make breakfast, forgot the car was on, and eventually the battery died. Another game where the forward’s effort levels are all over the map, chemistry is toast, and the Comets only look semi-competitive due to the efforts of their goaltender. Shouldn’t be describing this many Comets games as pathetic, but what other adjective could be used to describe the way they blew this one?

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Utica Mitch Eliot Kole Lind PPG
3rd WBS Zach Trotman Joseph Blandisi PPG
3rd WBS Jordy Bellerive Zach Trotman Jake Lucchini 5V5

 

Takeaways

 

  • Beyond the point of making excuses. This team sucks. Some serious competitive fire lacking from the team’s top-nine
  • Considering the number of big guys on the team, I’m consistently shocked at how many shots they give up from the bottom of the circles or the slot. There is zero physicality from the team away from the boards that prevents teams from creating chances. It is essentially open season for opposing wingers to just park around the net and hammer one-timers from point-blank.
  • Speaking of which, Michael Di Pietro had himself a spectacular night. The AHL doesn’t track high-danger scoring chances, just shots, and goals. But if they did, I’m confident that about 60 to 75% of the shots he faced tonight would have been considered high-danger scoring chances. The guy was a monster for the Comets tonight. Once again, the last line of defense for the Comets is left high and dry
  • Getting a bit tiresome watch selfish hockey players fail repeatedly trying to 1v5 their opponents. It speaks volumes of the team’s chemistry and timing that 95% of their cross-ice one-timer passes were whiffed on. It was as if there was no communication between the forward lines, all game, as no one had a clue what their linemates were planning to do.
  • The exception to the above would be the offensive play from Brogan Rafferty and Mitch Eliot. Both created tonnes of space for their forwards to work with, only for the forward groups to bungle the opportunities. Rafferty and Eliot combined for seven shots on goal tonight. In fact! Tonight, the defense combined for thirteen of the teams 23 shots on goal. To paraphrase Tortorella, “good for (them), but not for us.”
  • Congrats to Mitch Eliot for his first AHL “goal.” Although it was a complete freebie. Game is probably the Comets third shutout loss in four games had Erkamps not decided to try and clear it towards his goalie
  • Comets fourth-liners once again provide the best forechecking and scoring pressure from the forward groups. Still hoping the Perron, Arseneau, and Stevenson combo gets reunited. Dyson Stevenson and Arseneau had themselves a solid game from both a defensive and offensive standpoint. Get them a center who “gets” them, like Perron, and let them put in work. The other lines right now are just so soft on the puck. The few times where players like MacEwen, or Bailey, or Lind weren’t soft, was when the team looked, it’s most dominant. They can’t keep playing like the puck is just going to magically wind up on their sticks through no action of their own.
  • Heading into tomorrow’s game on the road against Binghamton (again). I would hope that Cull leaves the lines the same just to let some chemistry build. There were some glimpses here and there tonight, let it grow! I can park my desire for the 18-27-26 line if it means no other excessive line changes.
  • Josh Teves was pretty hot and cold tonight. He had some good plays, and he had some bad ones. The holding penalty that late in the game was pretty soft. Especially considering the number of holds the Penguins were getting away with earlier in the game. Overall, I do like what Teves brings to the table. For a smaller guy, he’s fast, and he plays big, he doesn’t shy away from the physicality, which can’t be said about many others on the team. He’s dialed back on his tendencies to go on skating trips around the rink. I get his intentions as he tries to create space for his team. However, he could stand to be more efficient with his energy. Currently, he uses his speed to skate laps around his opponents, which looks good but does little to open up the ice. Skate fast enough to lure them in, while not getting caught. Not; skate so fast your opponent stands still to watch you accomplish nothing.
  • Zack MacEwen had the best shift of his season tonight. It came in the second period. And that was about it. Just re-read my thoughts from the team’s last game. Just not sure what’s going on with his game, as it’s just fallen off a cliff.
  • Tyler Graovac did look better tonight, but weirdly enough he’s only a good distributor when passing back to the defenders. Have yet to see him truly combine for a good play with his linemates.
  • Was Jim Benning in town for this one? Will he be in town at all? I wonder what the excuses would be for the team at this point? Boucher and Camper being out will certainly hinder any team. But the team is playing like they all answered a craigslist ad to come out and play beer-league hockey. I’m still waiting on the chemistry to form in the absence of Baertschi, Boucher, and Camper from the lineup. The management group couldn’t possibly have been counting on those three to appear in all 76 Comets games, could they have? If they did, what does that say about the prospect group they’ve put together on the farm? With one NHL’er and one quad-A goal-scorer, they’re an offensive dynamo, but without them, they’re a dumpster fire? Two more games in three days for this group to figure out what they are.
  • At least the team didn’t try and play dump-and-chase hockey all night

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Mitch Eliot
  • Brogan Rafferty

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets return tomorrow night when they face off against the Binghamton Devils as they attempt to make it five straight losses end the losing streak before things go completely off the rails (if they weren’t already).

 

If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net

11/6/19 – Utica Comets vs. Binghamton Devils

The Comets look to bounce back from their dismal double-shutout loss this past weekend. The problem is, they’re missing practically everyone important that would make that easy to accomplish.

 

Tonight’s opponent is their North Division rivals, the Binghamton Devils. Fortunately for this young core, they’ve dominated the Devils so far this season. The Comets are currently winning the season match-up with three wins to the Devils none, with the Comets outscoring the Devils twelve-to-five. The Devils are currently the second-worst team in the Division, coming into tonight’s match-up having lost three straight.

 

In theory, this is a great opponent for the Comets young group of prospects to try and re-assert the team’s place at the top of the Division. However, there hasn’t been anyone in the Comets lineup that has taken it upon themselves to win the team some games in the absence of Boucher and Baertschi.

 

The Comets game against Providence last Friday, was at the very least, a promising sign that this team could battle hard in the absence of its star players. I’ve just finished going through all the shot tracking for the game, and its quite incredible they came away from that one without any points. They badly outshot the Bruins and out-chanced them throughout, but ran into a goalie who decided to play his best game of the season that night.

 

Their game against Rochester on Saturday, though… wellllll *coughs his way out of trying to justify what happened*

 

After last night’s embarrassing loss to the St. Louis Blues, I’m just hoping that the Comets show some fire and fight in their game. At the very least, to prove that they didn’t luck themselves into an undefeated October, but earned it through good play and teamwork.

 

Fingers crossed that no one else gets injured too . . .

 

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

 

LW C RW
Perron (#27) Graovac (#44) Goldobin (#77)
Bailey (#95) Jasek (#9) MacEwen (#15)
Bancks (#34) Malone (#17) Lind (#13)
Arseneau (#18) Hamilton (#36) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Chatfield (#5)
Brisebois (#55) Eliot (#52)
Teves (#4) Rafferty (#25)
G
Zane McIntyre

 

Not having Blujus, Sautner, OR Fantenberg to play with this young-ass d-corps could be disastrous on the levels of Saturday’s game. Fingers crossed they don’t collapse when put under pressure.

That being said, I’m glad to see them move Perron back to his natural spot on the wing. He looked decent at center, much more-so than Jasek, but alongside Goldobin from a more comfortable position could be good news for that line. Graovac also has looked pretty awful in his two games with the Comets, so he needs to show something tonight alongside two of the team’s best playmakers.

Oh, and they didn’t bench Josh Teves, which is a godsend.

 

RE: INJURY REPORT

 

Injury Report
Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body) Reid Boucher (knee) Carter Camper (upper-body)

 

Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc Richard Bachman Stefan LeBlanc Ashton Sautner (unavailable) Justin Taylor (unavailable)

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

 

Score at the end of the First Period: 2-1 Devils

 

Tough to rate how that period, as a whole, went for the Comets. Comets were outshot eleven to eight and gave up several significant scoring chances to the Devils. Lukas Jasek has been disappointing tonight. Mitch Eliot looks much better than he did over the weekend. Brogan Rafferty is having another off-night for the most part. This period, he was caught on the ice for both goals against, with poor reads on both plays. It’s incredible how incapable the team is at setting up a cycle in the offensive zone in the absence of just a few players. Hoping they can somehow figure it out and try to even this one out. Dyson Stevenson’s goal ended a scoring drought of 140 minutes.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-2 Tie

 

Comets outshot ten to five, but, they go two-for-two on the penalty kill, and get a game-tying goal off an absolutely gorgeous passing play. I had a giant thing prepared for the conclusion of this period about how this team isn’t even trying to set up passing plays between themselves. And here they are closing out the period with that beauty of a goal. Hopefully, that tying goal gives the team a shot in the arm and some faith in their scoring ability.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 4-2 Devils

 

Comets outshot 18 to five over the final frame. 39 to 18 overall. Pretty pathetic effort once again. I am getting horrific flashbacks of last season with the terrible decision-making.

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st Binghamton Kyle Cumiskey Nathan Bastian Brandon Baddock 5v5
1st Binghamton Ben Street Joey Anderson Dakota Mermis 5v5
1st Utica Dyson Stevenson Vincent Arseneau 5v5
2nd Utica Nikolay Goldobin Brogan Rafferty Justin Bailey 5v5
3rd Binghamton Chris Conner Nathan Bastian Ben Street 5v5
3rd Binghamton Ben Street Ryan Schmelzer SH,EN

 

Takeaways

 

  • Having a tough time putting together coherent thoughts on tonight’s Comets performance. Frankly, it sucked. It was pathetic. Sixty minutes of guys playing cute hockey with their endless no-look drop passes to their opponent’s sticks, and shots that are fifty feet wide of the goal. I’m even getting tired of the dump-and-chase hockey. After eleven games, it’s quite obvious that the Comet’s have only three guys on the team, max, who have the aptitude or drive, to actually play that kind of hockey.
  • Speaking of which, what happened to Zack MacEwen. Relative to how he played most of last year, his skating looks lethargic, his shooting ability has dropped off the face of the earth. I know people are going to point to his 6 points in 9 games, but those 6 points came from a run of three games only. He’s been held pointless now in five straight. If he’s chosen to work on his defensive game, that’s fantastic, but if that comes at the expense of dropping everything else from your game that made you worth a call-up last season, then I’d say forget it.
  • Kole Lind came into this season wanting to prove the haters and the doubters wrong. Lind has exactly zero points, when playing away from Boucher or Baertschi. Lind has been a passenger for the majority of the Comet’s first eleven games of the season, and never has it been more apparent than this past three. The kid is completely averse to physical play when it’s not instigating after the whistle’s blown. I simply do not see any sort of intensity from his play. The only time you’ll catch it is when he’s jumping on loose pucks. Genuinely not sure what direction or trajectory he has as a player if, as a goal-scorer, he is completely and wholly reliant on everyone else to carry him.
  • My brain keeps replaying that dump-in from Olli Juolevi with the two-man powerplay advantage. Like are you seriously kidding me that not one of those six guys could carry the puck into the zone themselves? I’m certain the voice screaming “no!” in the streamable is from the powerplay coach dying inside on that play. Once again, away from NHL caliber talent (Fantenberg, Sautner), Juolevi proves to be a one-trick pony. Two trick if you consider sacrificing your body on every penalty kill. And while I absolutely love me a tape-to-tape rink wide feed that results in a goal. I can’t, for one, accept that in place of everything else required to be a successful defender, even if just at the AHL level. Tonight’s game from OJ wasn’t even a bad showing of his skate speed. He only got burned once, which for him is a milestone. When you’re getting outclassed by Jalen Chatfield in both the defensive AND offensive end, alarm bells start ringing.
  • Lukas Jasek continues to be just a complete dud. I understand that playing with MacEwen and Bailey is tough since both guys like to play “me versus everybody,” kind of hockey. But I wasn’t kidding when I said that’s the fastest I’ve seen Jasek skate all season. He’s just looked so disengaged from the play. I can only equate it to him being that uncomfortable with playing the center position, that he’s hesitant to play at center-ice and create offense from there. More often than not, Jasek will peel off from chasing a puck rather than attempt to continue an offensive drive. This all goes back to the team having no backup plans in the event of call-ups or injuries. Well, the team is down Camper, and Graovac is too slow to hang with the top-six, so now what?
  • Lost in the minutiae of the Comet’s third disappointing result in a row was the lowkey impressive game from Mitch Eliot. Eliot could actually hit the net with a shot from the blueline. So by that token alone, he’s automatically outplayed Brisebois. His speed looked sharp, and despite a few times where he couldn’t outmuscle a Devils player who was crashing the net, I didn’t think he looked too out of place amongst his AHL D compatriates.
  • At this point I’m willing to say, the Comes should put Arseneau and Stevenson with Francis Perron and give them better match-ups. Because that line was actually quite legit when they were together. Tonight, once again, Perron, Arseneau, and Stevenson, independent of each other, were the only players engaged physically while actually landing shots on goal.
  • Feelsbadman for Zane McIntyre, who got absolutely shelled for 60 minutes tonight. Team completely left him hanging on all three of those goals against.
  • Also, at this point, it would be hilarious if the Comets did go without a single win through November after an undefeated October.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Mitch Eliot
  • Vinny Arseneau
  • Zane McIntyre

 

The Comets Trajectory?

 

The Comets return Friday night when they take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the last time this season. In their first match against the Penguins, the Comets gave up three straight goals to then tie the game and win in overtime. The current iteration of the Comets might get three goals, contingent of course on the returns of Camper, and Boucher. With Baertschi somehow slipping through the waiver wire undetected.

 

Comets lose three straight, and honestly, the blueprint to beating them is pretty clear right now. There isn’t a lot of time between games to adjust, as the Comets play another three games in the next five days. Fingers crossed their opponents don’t have this team figured out or this November stretch is going to be worthy of last year’s Comets.

 

If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net