3/11/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

Good evening Canucks Nation, things are looking way brighter on the west coast after that big shootout win over the Islanders, while, on the other side of the continent, things are lookin’ Willie D levels of “real gud” for the Utica Comets.

The Comets have had a roller-coaster of a season. After picking up 54 points through their first 42 games played (0.643 points-earning percentage), the Comets experience a hard slump in late-January/early-February. Across their rough patch, the Comets picked up a measly seven points over eleven games played (0.318 points-earning percentage).

How quickly this team can rebound though, as they’re now on a solid bounce-back, having picked up 12 points over their last seven games played (0.857 points-earning percentage).

The bounce-back couldn’t have come at a better time! I’ve written ad nauseam about the Comets brutal March schedule and how important it was for the team to earn points at all costs.

Leading the charge for the Comets this past seven games are Carter Camper, and Reid Boucher.

Carter Camper, in particular, is maintaining some unreal levels of production for this Comets team. In the Comets last seven games, Camper has contributed two 5v5 goals, four primary 5v5 assists, a powerplay primary assist, and two secondary powerplay assists.

Boucher, on the other hand, continues to beat franchise and his own scoring records. In the last seven games, Boucher has contributed three 5v5 goals, three primary 5v5 assists, two powerplay goals, one primary assist on a powerplay goal, and an empty netter. Before this heater, he also was on a four-game goal streak.

Visiting the Comets tonights is division rivals, the Syracuse Crunch. The Crunch have gone 6-2-1-1 in their last ten, a run that puts them three points outside of the playoff bar.

The season series against the Crunch has been all over the map. Out of the seven games played thus far, the Comets are narrowly winning by way of a shootout win back on February 8th. In their last meeting, the Comets got absolutely trounced at 5-on-5, giving up 54 shot-attempts to their 32.

Though the results skew slightly in the Comets favour, a lot of that had to do with the impressive goaltending performances from Michael Di Pietro early on in the season. In their last outing, Di Pietro was relied upon to make 40 saves on 43 shots-against. To keep the current win-streak alive, the team will have to avoid repeatedly throwing him to the wolves.

It looks like the starting lineup might be getting a bit of a shakeup, as Sven Baertschi slides out of the lineup due to knee-soreness. That’s, morbidly, a massive sigh of relief to all of the Sven Baertschi stans out there. Think everyone in Canucks nation would prefer knee-soreness, over another concussion-related injury.

With that bit of good-news/bad-news out of the way, let’s take a look at tonights starting lineup!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Goldobin (#77) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (##) Lind (#13)
LeBlanc (#3) Graovac (#44) Jasek (#9)
Perron (#27) Stevens (#16) Stevenson (#26
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Blujus (#8)
Sautner (#6) Rafferty (#25)
Petgrave (#22) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
Vinny Arseneau (season toast) David Pope (concussion) Jonah Gadjovich (ill) Sven Baertschi (knee) Olli Juolevi (hip soreness)
Healthy Scratches
Seamus Malone Josh Teves Carter Bancks (vet)

 

I can’t believe the madman did it, he had Carter Bancks and Wacey Hamilton available, and chose to bench one of them over, that no-good Carter Camper!

Also, Matt Petgrave getting ice time over Josh Teves is certainly a message. That one-way contract kicking in next year for Teves is looking pretty brutal right about now.

 

1st period

Comets donning the Flying Comet alternates!

 

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

Quite shocking how many shots missed the net from Syracuse. If they shore-up on their accuracy, this Comets team might be doomed heading into the next two periods. Comets, despite their lack of puck-control through the opening frame, lead the Crunch in shots-on-goal 13-to-9.

The team ought to start tightening up defensively in their end. MDP is going to get burnt out due to the staggering number of post-to-post saves this Crunch team is forcing him to make. I’m not sure if the permissiveness allowed is caused by a lack of communication, skill, or willingness to challenge opponents man-on. Either way, the Comets can’t keep doing their rookie netminder dirty like this.

 

2nd Period

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-1 Syracuse

A disappointing period of play from the Comets that echoed the disappointing play of the team from the first. Comets outshot 11-to-8, an unacceptable shot-differential given the two powerplays that the team had to work with. If Cull and his coaching staff couldn’t reel the team back to their senses during that break to fix the glass, then I don’t know if I can expect anything more than what we’ve already seen so far tonight from this team. 15 shorthanded goals-against!

 

3rd period

 

Final Score: 3-1 Syracuse Crunch

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Justin Bailey Nikolay Goldobin Brogan Rafferty PPG
2nd SYR Dennis Yan Otto Somppi Tyler Bird 5v5
2nd SYR Luke Witkowski SHG
3rd SYR Boris Katchouk Daniel Walcott Peter Abbandonato 5v5

 

Takeaways

There’s only one takeaway from this game. Sporting leagues across the planet are ending their seasons due to COVID-19’s rapid spread worldwide. The President denies the threat or impact of the disease, while star players are testing positive in alarming numbers, so much so that the NBA just suspended its season …fucking Tom Hanks tested positive!

The fine folks in Utica just got treated to one of the most pathetic, embarrassing, and heartless performances from their Utica Comets, I think I’ve ever seen. The Comets are a tiny organization, 3000 max per game. They had seven home games remaining, excluding any potential playoff revenue. I’m sure the Acqualini fam will help out their AHL-bro if things move into dire straits. But this was a shitty taste to leave in the mouths of fans

  • Oh yeah, MDP is a fucking beast. Sucks the team in front of him no-showed

My west coast people, please wash your hands, wear a facemask if you can, cough or sneeze into your armpit, wash your hands, avoid touching shit…. wash your hands …did I mention wash your hands??!?!

Stay safe everyone, shits about to get real nutty in the coming days…

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro

 

The Comets Trajectory?

Barring all hockey being suspended for the remainder of the season, the Comets will look to rebound from tonight’s embarrassment this Friday when they take on the visiting Belleville Senators

3/7/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Charlotte Checkers

Good afternoon Canucks Nation, it’s time for another catch-up with the Farm!

Full disclosure, I am incredibly hungover. Last night I met up with a cousin of mine, whom I had not seen in over four years!

Like the genius I am, I didn’t eat anything prior to meeting up, and then I went on to have seven or eight High Life IPA’s thanks to my good friends at the Brewhall in Vancouver!

So yeah, expect run-on sentences, grammatical inconsistencies, and spelling errors? you bet! 

Last night the Utica Comets eked out a 2-1 regulation victory over the Checkers, even after doing their usual second-period collapse where they got outshot 12-to-5.

Fortunately, stalwart rookie netminder, Michael Di Pietro, put up an impressive 33-save performance, posting a 0.971 save percentage and a 1.00 goals-against average.

Tonight, it looks like Cull will be giving Mikey a bit of a break, as Jake Kielly looks to get his first AHL start of the season.

One of the more notable things to note from the Comets win last night was Justin Bailey getting crushed along the end-boards by Cavan Fitzgerald. Last night’s Game highlights, including the hit on Bailey, and Lind stepping up to “fight” Fitzgerald..

Although this is far from the same team that won the Calder Cup last season, the Checkers are a much tougher team than their record would indicate. Comets coming away with four points off this double-header weekend will do wonders for their playoff push.

The Comets record in the second game of back-to-backs remains at seven wins, nine losses, and one shootout loss.

Slightly under a 0.500 points-earned-percentage

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (#36) Lind (#13)
LeBlanc (#3) Stevens (#16) Perron (#27)
Stevenson (#26) Graovac (#44) Jasek (#9)
LD RD
Sautner (#6) Rafferty (#25)
Petgrave (#22) Chatfield (#5)
Teves (#4) Eliot (#52)
G
Jake Kielly

 

INJURY REPORT
Dylan Blujus David Pope (concussion) Vinny Arseneau (done for the season) Jonah Gadjovich (ill) Carter Bancks (lower body) Olli Juolevi (hip soreness)

 

Healthy Scratches
Guillaume Brisebois (technically) Nikolay Goldobin (vet) Seamus Malone

 

Goldobin gets the veteran-scratch for a third consecutive game. Have to feel for the guy, but hard to ignore how ineffectual he has been at 5-on-5.

With Blujus out with injury, Sautner slides back in with Rafferty as the team’s top pair. He took a dirty hit in the first period from last night’s action and is feeling the effects today. That opens the door, again, for Josh Teves and Mitch Eliot to come into the lineup to try and impress the bench boss for more ice-time.

 

1st period

[Comets in White]

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 1-0 Checkers

Not sure I like Graovac on the first powerplay unit, the guy simply doesn’t have the legs to chase down pucks along the wall.

Overall, it was a bit of a hot-and-cold period of play from the Comets. To start, the team was giving up some high-danger scoring opportunities, but by periods-end, they managed to reel the Checkers back.

Both teams are doing well at holding each other to the outside perimeter for shots.

Have to feel for Kielly, a bit, on that opening-goal as there was literally nothing he could do to stop that one. Penalty-killers have to do better at clearing space around Kielly’s net, so he has clear sight-lines on the puck.

The dreaded enemy of the Comets, the second-period, could mean a comeback opportunity, or a full collapse. Fingers crossed its the former. Points are critical these days as two teams behind them in the standings, the Binghamton Devils and Laval Rocket, are both on decent win streaks to put them in contention for playoff spots. The Comets already got two points off this conference-foe, but another point or two could be all the difference between getting in or falling out.

 

2nd Period

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-1 Checkers

So tilting, realizing I didn’t have sound captured through the first twenty minutes of play.

Despite how dull the period was, the Comets did well to generate shots on goal, as they held the Checkers to just five total. One of those being a goal, but, HEY! Can’t save ’em all!

Concerning that, Baertschi went down the tunnel with the athletic trainer seemingly unprovoked. Fingers crossed that this isn’t concussion-related.

Kole Lind and Justin Bailey have had really impressive games so far, but have been unable to capitalize on any of the multiple scoring chances they’ve created.

 

3rd period

 

The score at the end of the 3rd period: 2-2 Tie

Fantastic battle from the Comets to even things up at two apiece

I originally had a point in my second-period musings that said the Comets shouldn’t bank on getting another powerplay to try and even things up. But sure enough, that’s exactly what it took, and Reid Boucher, once again, proves the COmets hero.

Loved the compete level from Kole Lind that entire third period. It genuinely felt like he was on the ice for 90% of the time — an impressive game from him to turn this game on its head for Utica.

 

Overtime

  • Rafferty, Jasek, Graovac the first trio for Utica
  • Not sure I’d pick the guy with one-eye, a guy coming off IR, and another guy coming off IR as my first trio to roll out in OT
  • 2 minutes into OT and the Checkers have held the puck for the entire time
  • Justin Bailey caught out on an incredibly long shift after going end to end to out-race an icing. Jake Kielly gloves down the puck at the side of the net, mercifully allowing Bailey to change
  • 1:30 left and Kole Lind finally out for OT
  • GOAL – UTICA – 3-2 Comets: Brogan Rafferty (#25) goes full god-mode as he dangles around two Checkers defencemen before drop-passing to Kole Lind (#13) for the game-winner! I audibly yelled, “what the fuck” at Raff’s absolutely disgusting display of dangles to weave the puck through the feet of the Checkers’ defencemen. Stoked to see Lind, finally, wind up on the scoresheet as he had nothing to show for an incredible game-played up until that point.

 

Final Score: 3-2 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st CHA Ryan Bourque Joey Keane Gustav Forsling PPG
2nd CHA Mark Cooper Clark Bishop Jacob Pritchard 5v5
2nd UTI Reid Boucher Brogan Rafferty Carter Camper PPG
3rd UTI Reid Boucher Tyler Graovac Carter Camper PPG
OT UTI Kole Lind Brogan Rafferty 3v3

 

Takeaways

 

  • Lmao, Rafferty got the first star of the evening, but after having as many giveaways as he did, I don’t know if I’d be willing to give him that much. That overtime play was certainly something though.
  • Fantastic comeback win from the Comets to earn a crucial four-points on the road. Comets finish their night getting outshot 27-to-26, but the resilience they showed in the final twenty minutes of play was really quite something. Despite their best efforts at 5-on-5, the bounces just were not going their way. Checkers’ fans can’t even argue that the Comets were gifted a powerplay to even things up, as there was a blatant non-call on Lind mere seconds before Steven Lorentz’ slashing penalty
  • I said it a few times tonight, but Kole Lind had himself a statement game. The stat-lines won’t do justice to the kind of work that Lind was putting along the end-boards that resulted in numerous scoring opportunities for the Comets. Linds OT winner was his 14th of the season, which now has him sixth on the team, with 0.54 primary-points-per-game. Reid Boucher sits first with an astonishing 1.10 primary-points-per-game.
  • Carter Camper recorded two assists tonight, which has him leading all centermen with 32 assists on the year. Should Carter Bancks return, the team is going to have to sit one more veteran. Earlier this season, I chided Trent Cull for his decision to scratch Camper in favour of having both Carter Bancks and Wacey Hamilton on the starting lineup. Please write your local MP, should Camper get taken out of the lineup, because he has been integral to the Comets goal-scoring this season.
  • Lukas Jasek looked ok in his first game back since injury/illness. He started strong, but later in the game, he looked slow, which makes me wonder if he’s entirely over whatever it was that had him sidelined?
  • Poor Sven Baertschi, I genuinely hope him leaving the game has nothing to do with head-trauma. He looked solid in the opening goings of the first period, but after that shakeup along the endboards, he became less noticeable.
  • Brogan Rafferty had a game that fully encompassed why it is tough to project how he fits in an NHL lineup. He has tremendous skating and puck handling through traffic, with the offensive flair of a power-forward and the passing skills of an NHL defensemen. Unfortunately, he also has some of the worst egregious giveaways among Comets defensemen. Everyone is understandably excited at this management group finding another NCAA free-agent d-man, who’s tearing up the AHL. Those same people have pencilled Rafferty into next-years starting Canucks lineup. However, can you imagine what Travis Green would do after seeing a tape-to-tape giveaway in the D-zone like the one Raff had tonight? Food for thought
  • Jake Kielly, too, had a really impressive showing for the Comets! 25 saves on 27 shots for a 0.926 save percentage and a 1.88 goals-against-average. Not bad at all for someone making their first AHL start! Kielly truly did set the tone for the Comets after he made those huge stops early to prevent Charlotte from generating a lead. I’m sure Trent Cull and co. are relieved to see they have a backup who may be more reliable than they had expected.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Kole Lind
  • Reid Boucher
  • Jake Kielly

HM: Carter Camper

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets win tonight moves them into second place, as they edge the Rochester Americans on regulation-wins. The Comets will look to maintain that place in the standings when they return home this upcoming Wednesday, as they take on division-rival, the Syracuse Crunch.

3/4/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

The Utica Comets are inside the final 20 games of the season, and holy guacamole, do they have a month in store for them!

Two 3-in-4’s to start the month, then a Tuesday game that immediately follows a double-header weekend. Afterwards, it’s a triple header, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, mid-month, concluding with two more 3-in-4’s at the close of March and start of April.

Did I mention that only nine of those thirteen games are against divisional opponents? Meaning, the Comets can’t afford to slip up anywhere this month. A losing streak at any point this month could mean a freefall out of a Calder Playoff spot.

Hot off the heels of a disappointing drubbing by the Laval Rocket, the Comets will start this month against the North Divisions, second-place, Rochester Americans, an all too familiar foe of the farms.

The Comets’ last game against the Amerks was an interesting one. Despite getting thoroughly out-attempted at 5-on-5, the Comets managed to earn two big points via the shootout.

There is an asterisk on the game, in that, the Comets arguably should have won in regulation. The referees missed a blatant trip against Sven Baertschi as he drove with the puck towards the empty-net. The non-call denied the Comets an automatic empty-netter goal-for, and on the ensuing 6v5, the Amerks managed to score in the final 28 seconds to force extra-time.

By no means did the Comets play a clean game against the Amerks. Getting out-attempted more than two-to-one across all-strength-situations means the team was basically in survival mode all game.

Out-attempted two-to-one is the common thread between all of the Comets/Amerks matchups this season.

Out of their seven-game head-to-head this season, the Comets have out-attempted the Amerks at 5-on-5, wait for it,

…once

No surprise, the only thing that has been separating wins from losses in this seven-game series, is goaltending.

The Comets are already seeing what can happen if they ride their goalie too hard. Mikey Di Pietro was making his ninth straight start for the Comets against Laval, pairing that with a blatantly lethargic Comets team in front of him, was a breeding ground for disaster.

Perhaps the past few days off has allowed the Comets to refill the stamina bars. Well, at least we hope they have because with two teams nipping at their heels for the third and fourth-place playoff spot, they can’t afford any more performances like they had against Laval. Its Crunch time. But not literally Crunch time, because it’s actually Amerk time …you know what, you get the idea! Let’s get into tonight’s matchup!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Lind (#13) Hamilton (#36) Bailey (#95)
LeBlanc (#3 Stevens (#16) Perron (#27)
Malone (#17) Graovac (#44) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Petgrave (#22) Rafferty (#25)
Sautner (#6) Blujus (#8)
Teves (#4) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
Vinny Arseneau (done for the season) David Pope (concussion) Lukas Jasek (lower-body) Carter Bancks (lower-body) Olli Juolevi (hip soreness) Jonah Gadjovich (illness)

 

Healthy Scratches
Nikolay Goldobin (veteran)

 

So Stefan LeBlanc gets to slide back into the lineup, and impressively, moves into the top-9 alongside Stevens and Goldobin. Like the makeup of the line, a strong forechecking presence from LeBlanc could be a great compliment.

Goldobin gets the veteran scratch, which, I’m sure, is delightful for him.

Pretty surprised that Eliot and Teves can barely crack a healthy Comets roster, but when the Comets are down two d-men, they get paired together. It makes me question if its a matter of trust with Trent Cull, or if its a matter of skill. Both Teves and Eliot have looked perfectly adequate in the AHL this season. Obviously, when they are healthy, the Comets’ third pair is a tough spot in the lineup to crack. It makes me wonder why Eliot and Teves weren’t sent down to Kalamazoo to play out the entire season to get ample ice-time.

Have to feel for Olli Juolevi, man, injuries have just completely fucked up this kids’ career path. Hip soreness for the second/third time this season is a bad look.

1st period

Comets in their Away whites

 

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

 

That was a really fast-paced period of hockey, with zero penalties issued and only a few couple timeouts.

Comets still struggle mightily against the speed and size of the Amerks squad. The Comets do try to match the physicality brought by the Amerks, but, as you could see in a couple of those streamables, Amerks play a heavy game that even the veterans and toughest Comets players can’t match.

Comets still electing to play that heavy four-deep in the o-zone style that gives opponents a jarring number of odd-man rushes-against.

 

2nd Period

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 1-1 Tie

 

Yikes, that was a rough period of hockey displayed by the Comets. After 40-minutes of action, the Comets find themselves getting outshot 30 to 17. Rochester is a volume team, who uses their speed and size to open up space for shots on goal. Utica is an opportunistic team, who uses their speed and vision to capitalize on errors for scoring chances. Unfortunately, Utica’s approach to generating offense requires them to actually be in the offensive zone. Rewatch that streamable of the Comets standing still as the Amerks generate shots towards the net. The Comets fade the second they don’t regain the puck in their zone.

 

3rd period

 

 

Final Score: 3-1 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Stefan LeBlanc John Stevens 5v5
2nd ROC Taylor Leier Jean-Sebastien Dea Jacob Bryson PPG
3rd UTI Sven Baertschi Carter Camper Ashton Sautner 5v5
3rd UTI Tyler Graovac Justin Bailey Brogan Rafferty EN

 

Takeaways

 

  • Comets pull the classic rope-a-dope, as they withstand 40-minutes of relentless Amerks offense to earn the win with some late-game heroics from the first line. Can’t understate enough how important Di Pietro was to the Comets in this game. Amazingly, Di Pietro was only the 2nd star of the night, while Sven Baertschi got the first-star for his game-winner.
    • Di Pietro finished the game with a 0.973 save-percentage and a 1.00 goals-against-average. *larry-david-pretty-pretty-pretty-good.gif*
  • Not a pretty game shot-attempt wise, but the Comets did admirably at moving the puck up-ice when they were able to gain possession of the puck. Against this fast Amerk team, however, they weren’t afforded many opportunities to strip the puck off their opponents. Don’t think the Comets want to end up in a playoff series against Rochester, because the Amerks clearly play a style of hockey that will dominate come playoff time.
  • Underrated game for Dylan Blujus, who recorded a team-high of five shots on goal. I think he and Sautner looked, possibly, their best all season, and it might have to do with the fact that both were playing on their strong-side for a change.
  • Speaking of shots on goal, Boucher looked fantastic in his first game back after an undisclosed illness. Dynamite on the penalty-kill as usual, he had moments of standing around waiting for the puck to happen upon him. However, that asterisk can get applied to every single Comets player tonight. Love his ability to steal the puck off opponents and create chances out of thin air. He wasn’t able to land on the scoresheet, but he still remains the team’s most potent threat in the o-zone with the puck on his stick.
  • CTRL C+V my comments about Stefan LeBlanc’s play from a few games ago. Great effort, hustle, and forechecking presence that earned him the games first-goal of the night. With the Comets hamstrung by the veteran limit, and Brisebois/Chatfield up with the Canucks, I doubt Teves/Eliot’s positions are in jeopardy. A position that sucks for LeBlanc who’s opportunity has been thrown a wrench by having to play off-role. That being said, LeBlanc has performed above expectations in my eyes. Have ti imagine his performance of late has earned himself a full-time spot on the roster, whether that’s as a forward, or as a D-man.
  • Still a bit concerned that the Comets have yet to figure out a gameplan to combat the Amerks. They’ve played eight games against each other now, and I don’t know if I’m confident that the next game won’t see the Comets getting caved-in for two of the three periods. The rope-a-dope worked tonight, but in a five-game playoff series, I don’t know if that’s something a team like this should bank on
  • Graovac got the empty-netter, but boy, his skating sure does look rough still. I said after his last game that I wouldn’t harp on it. But he looked like he was skating in mud through much of tonight’s action. Probably just a reps thing where he’ll look more like himself, the more game-time he gets in.
  • Francis Perron had an underrated performance playing alongside LeBlanc and Stevens. Perron’s had a tough season, what with the eye injury that forced him out of eleven games, then he took a puck to the head in practice that took him out of another five. Perron has speed, tenacity while displaying some decent offensive chops, but he’s only managed two goals and one assist in his last 20 games played. Perron’s contract expires at the end of this season, but sadly for him, I don’t know if his streaky production has been enough to warrant another look next year.
  • Not on the Canucks, but Casey Mittelstadt is a really fun player to watch — had a couple of goofs behind the net in the Amerks zone, but his speed makes him such a massive threat whenever he blitzes into the o-zone. I don’t watch a lot of Sabres games, but I can’t imagine why his skills don’t translate into the NHL.
  • I already said it, but I genuinely just feel bad that Olli Juolevi is, once again, dealing with lingering injuries. Alongside Brogan Rafferty, Juolevi posted the best shot-attempt differential at 5-on-5 in the Comets games against Rochester and Toronto last week. Reminding you that one of those games was another against Rochester, in which the Comets were out-attempt two-to-on at 5-on-5. Godspeed to the fragile Finn in his recovery.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Stefan LeBlanc
  • Dylan Blujus

 

The Comets Trajectory?

Comets return this weekend for a double-header road trip against David Ayers’ Charlotte Checkers, I won’t be on recap duty for the Friday game, however, as I’ll be meeting up with family whom I haven’t seen in over four years! So expect another Comets Harvest, for Saturday’s game only!

2/29/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Laval Rocket

The Comets face off against Alex Burrows Laval Rocket tonight at home, with the chance of earning six out of six possible points in the final weekend of February.

The Rocket have struggled immensely as of late. The Rocket were running hot early on in the season, launching to seventh-place in the league while rocking a 0.605 points-percentage. This percentage since then has plummeted down to 0.517, while the team has free-fallen down to their current spot of 19th in the AHL, 6th in the North Division.

The Rocket have rebounded similarly to the Comets, with points earned in five of their last ten games. Whereas the Comets have picked up points in seven of their last ten.

Comets are rolling heading into tonight’s match; last night’s game against Toronto saw Sven Baertschi and Kole Lind rejoin the AHL’s list of top-20 scorers.

Some other notes from the scoreboards pertaining to the farm

  • Reid Boucher and Justin Bailey sit 2nd and 4th in goal-scoring with 31 and 27 respectively
  • Brogan Rafferty sits 6th in the AHL and leads all rookies in assists, with 34 assists in 52 GP
  • Kole Lind and Nikolay Goldobin are in a four-way-tie for 9th in assists with 30 each

 

For posterity, the Laval Rocket have no players in the top-20 of any of those categories listed above.

Anyways, let’s get into tonight’s leap-year matchup and see if the Comets can begin their brutal March schedule with a tidy little win-streak going!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (#36) Lind (#13)
Goldobin (#77) Camper (#19) Baertschi (#47)
Stevens (#16) Graovac (#44) Perron (#27)
Gadjovich (#21) Malone (#17) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Sautner (#6)
Blujus (#8) Chatfield (#5)
Petgrave (#22) Rafferty (#25)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
David Pope (upper-body) Vincent Arseneau (season done) Carter Bancks (undisclosed) Lukas Jasek (undisclosed) Reid Boucher (ill) Olli Juolevi (injured)
Healthy Scratches
Stefan LeBlanc

 

Tyler Graovac returns to action for the first time since November 14th, 2019, an absence of 107 days.

Bit strange to see Cull push Stevens, a natural center, out to the wing. Seamus Malone has had solid games lately, but the realist in me thinks having four legitimate and experienced AHL centers throughout the lineup is better than having a very green fourth-line who will barely play. Stevens moving down would allow this team much more flexibility, but, I mean, what do I know!?

Reid Boucher and Olli Juolevi sitting out of tonight’s game is certainly interesting. Comets twitter account says Boucher is ill, and Juolevi is “injured.” Possibly related to the injury that kept him out of a few games

Still baffling that Matt Petgrave gets slid in for Juolevi instead of LeBlanc, who’s played out of his mind while off-role for this team. No disrespect to Petgrave, who’s obviously making the most out of his opportunity.

Still, it feels like LeBlanc’s getting le shaft.

I see you, dog, I see the work you puttin’ in!

 

1st period

 

Comets in their flying skate alternates

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 2-0 Rocket

 

Comets look exhausted to be honest. Tyler Graovac had the intermission interview and the first thing he admitted was, “things are fast out there.” I was about to make a point that TG looked incredibly slow relative to everyone else on the ice.

Massive props to Graovac; here he is in the intermission interview, smiling his ass off, admitting that the time-off hurt his speed and that he hopes with more ice-time his skating will come around. I wish he were with the Canucks still giving intermission interviews. His were genuinely a breath of fresh air.

And that’s all I have to say about TG and his skate-speed.

Comets need to find some energy here in the second to try, at the very least, to cut the lead to one.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 5-0 Rocket

 

Come

White towel —

Is it possible for a team to forfeit the third period and just call it a game?

Cause that’s how bad this is

Probably won’t bother recapping the remainder of this game…they’re not trying, so, why should I?

 

3rd period

 

  • Comets start the period with two minutes of penalty-killing, but who cares, no one cares…
  • GOAL – UTICA – 5-1 Rocket: Oh my god, they get on the board! Only four more to go! The Comets fourth-line gives a jolt of energy into the Utica faithful after Matt Petgrave (#22) sens a shot towards the net of McNiven, and Dyson Stevenson (#26) gets a last-second tip on the puck to send it top shelf.
  • Fourth-line out pressuring for the Comets again; they seem to be the only line actually generating anything for this club. As Tortorella once said, “good for ~him~ them, bad for us.”
  • Possibly the only interesting moment from the last five minutes, as the fourth-line mucks it up a bit after a stoppage in play
  • Comets to the powerplay off a delay-of-game from Ryan Culkin
  • GOAL – UTICA – 5-2 Rocket: Jonah Gadjovich (#21) cuts the Rocket’s lead to three with a tip-in of a Carter Camper (#19) slap pass on the powerplay.
  • Comets pull Kielly with 5:30 left for the extra-attacker
  • Hamilton, Lind, Goldobin, Graovac, Rafferty, Petgrave are the first six for Utica
  • Facing the 6-on-5, Yannick Veilleux slashes Justin Bailey — Comets to the powerplay with 3:27 remaining in the third, their SEVENTH of the game
  • Kielly stays on the bench, Cull rolling with the 6-on-4 powerplay
  • Goldobin, Camper, Rafferty, Baertschi, Graovac, Bailey
  • Even with the two-man advantage, the Comets are finding it hard to get shots on goal
  • 1:18 left, and Baertschi takes a roughing penalty after giving a shove to the face of Ryan Culkin after being ridden into the boards.

 

Final Score: 5-2 Laval Rocket

 

Scoresheet

 

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st LAV Alex Alain Lukas Vejdemo Ryan Poehling PPG
1st LAV Jake Lucchini Gustav Olofsson Nikita Jevpalovs 5v5
2nd LAV Laurent Dauphin Cale Fleury Nikita Jevpalovs PPG
2nd LAV Yannick Veilleux Kevin Lynch 5v5
2nd LAV Laurent Dauphin 5v5
3rd UTI Dyson Stevenson Matt Petgrave Jonah Gadjovich 5v5
3rd UTI Jonah Gadjovich Carter Camper Guillaume Brisebois PPG

 

Takeaways

  • Comets end up out-shooting the Rocket, but a burnt-out team and a worn-out goalie combine for a quick and early demise to this Comets team.
  • Good showing from the Gadjovich/Stevenson combo late in the game to try and make things interesting, but it was all too-little-too-late.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Jonah Gadjovich
  • Dyson Stevenson
  • Eric Kowiatek (the guy who designed the Flying Comet jerseys)

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets blew a golden opportunity to head into March on a significant momentum swing. But with Reid Boucher out of the lineup, a goalie playing on fumes, and, perhaps, a team burnt out from their dominant win over the Toronto Marlies, and it’s easy to see how this one got away from them so fast.

Comets get a couple days to regroup before they begin another 3-in-4, starting this upcoming Wednesday with a roadie against the Rochester Americans. Fortunately for the Comets, the Amerks lost in regulation tonight against the Syracuse Crunch. The gap between them in third, and the Amerks in second, remains a four-point spread.

Sorry this one sucked Canucks Nation, blame the team though, not me

2/28/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Toronto Marlies

In a battle between mediocre North Division teams playing roller-coaster hockey in 2020, the Utica Comets face off with the Toronto Marlies in another inter-divisional matchup.

I say roller-coaster because both teams have had brief moments of domination. Toronto’s 7-6 comeback win against Belleville or Utica’s 6-3 win over Hartford being the primary example of both sides looking top-tier. They’ve also shared similar moments this year where they looked god-awful, primary examples being Toronto’s 8-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch and Utica’s 4-0 loss to Belleville.

Toronto is rocking an 8-12-1-1 record through 2020 for a 0.41 points-percentage

Utica is rocking a truly mediocre 10-10-0-1 record through 2020 for a 0.500 points-percentage

What does it all mean?

In the AHL? Literally nothing! Teams are up and down the standings, all the time. For AHL squads, it’s about those momentary runs that they go on that help float them to playoffs down the stretch, especially when bodies start disappearing due to call-ups, or due to injuries.

The Comets phenomenal 8-0 run in October has allowed them to struggle in 2020 without the risk of falling too far down the standings.

The Comets also have the benefit of games-in-hand on several of the teams chomping at their third-place playoffs spot.

I’m currently in the midst of tracking Wednesday’s overtime win against the Rochester Americans, but I stopped before the third-period because it was getting too painful to keep up.

On the Comets’ ability to generate shot-attempts at 5-on-5, the Marlies, fortunately, are one of the few teams that the Comets have managed to hold a positive shot-differential over.

On the season, the Comets have outscored the Marlies 13 to 12 and out-attempted them at 5-on-5, 116 to 103.

So with history on their side, let’s hope the Comets can give Mikey a break on the back-end and win another two-points before a brutal March schedule kicks off!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Hamilton (#36) Lind (#13)
Goldobin (#77) Stevens (#16) Perron (#27)
Gadjovich (#21) Malone (#17) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Juolevi (#48) Rafferty (#25)
Brisebois (#55) Sautner (#6)
Blujus (#8) Chatfield (#5)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
David Pope (upper-body) Vincent Arseneau (season done) Tyler Graovac (foot) Carter Bancks (undisclosed) Lukas Jasek (undisclosed)
Healthy Scratches
Matt Petgrave Stefan LeBlanc

 

Quite a few bodies back in the lineup after long stints on IR

Francis Perron missed the last five games after taking a puck to the dome in practice.

Jonah Gadjovich returns after two games.

But the big return is Wacey Hamilton returning after missing the last 16 games with a foot/ankle injury.

Not sure I like him with Lind/Bailey as I personally think John Stevens has been a great fit with those two.

Also, I have to amend my Wednesday’s lineup as I had Brise listed with Rafferty — though they did spend some time on the ice together, it was mostly he and Juolevi as a pairing when things weren’t broken up by PP/PK time.

I also thought that LeBlanc’s strong play as a forward ought to have earned him some ice time on the third D-pairing. Blujus/Chatfield were pretty brutal Wednesday against the Amerks, so I don’t think it would be out of the question to see LeBlanc playing in his natural position after several strong games off-role.

1st period

Comets in their home blues

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 2-0 Utica Comets

 

I almost don’t even want to compliment or say anything about the teams play that period. They were good. Like, really good. I praised the defensive chops of the team in the Belleville game, but that pales in comparison to their effort in tonight’s opening twenty minutes. Comets end the period outshooting the Marlies 13-to-6.

 

2nd Period

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 5-1 Utica Comets

 

I am going to plead the fifth on this one. That strategy worked at the end of the last period, and since the Comets will spend the first 1:40 of the third on the PK, it’s for the best if I don’t invoke a jinx. But the Comets are playing fantastic hockey right now. Definitely can’t count out the Marlies, however, as they’ve come back from worse deficits before. Have to cross our fingers that the Canucks have a similar display of dominance over their Torontonian opponents tomorrow!

 

3rd period

 

Final Score: 7-3 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Wacey Hamilton Kole Lind 5v5
1st UTI Reid Boucher Carter Camper Ashton Sautner 5v5
2nd UTI Reid Boucher Carter Camper Sven Baertschi 5v5
2nd TOR Joseph Duszak Matt Read Kenny Agostino PPG
2nd UTI Dylan Blujus Reid Boucher Justin Bailey 5v5
2nd UTI Sven Baertschi Reid Boucher Olli Juolevi 5v5
3rd UTI Justin Bailey Kole Lind Wacey Hamilton 5v5
3rd TOR Kenny Agostino Mac Hollowell 4v4
3rd TOR Egor Korshkov Kenny Agostino 5v5
3rd UTI Reid Boucher Sven Baertschi EN

 

Takeaways

  • Comets get outshot 2-to-1 in the third period but it doesn’t matter because they entered it leading the Marlies 27-to-15 in shots on goal and leading, 5-1. Great defensive effort from the club overall with very few mistakes, outside of those late rallying goals from the Marlies to cut the lead down to the three.
  • Boucher casually breaking franchise records in back-to-back seasons is certainly a look. I know the Canucks are pretty set at forward, but oh boy, it certainly would be something to see if the Canucks could bring him up at least for a look on the 2nd powerplay unit. Historically, the Canucks have been pretty bad at employing guys who have very catered roles (a la Gagner). Still, Boucher has been one of the teams better penalty killers and is a proven playmaker/goal-scorer. So far every forward on the Comets has gotten a look, I think it’s about time Boucher gets a look, especially now that the Canucks need something new out of their fourth line.
  • Impressive game from the Lind/Bailey/Hamilton trio. Every shift through the first 40 minutes, these three were just hemming the Marlies into their end with a great cycle and pressure. Happily eat my words on that call in the pre-amble that this wouldn’t work. Hamilton has his flaws as a player, but this was a great bounce-back for him with one-goal, one-assist, and four shots in his return. He was a great complimentary piece to Lind/Bailey, who both ended the game with two points each.
  • Another strong game on the fourth line for Seamus Malone. He didn’t end up on the scoresheet, but he looked just as dangerous tonight as he had done in the previous two games with Stefan LeBlanc on his wing.
  • Di Pietro faced a few unlucky bounces and awkward goals tonight, but on some of those shots that should have been sure-goals, he was clutch. That save on Korshkov while the Comets were on the PK was huge for the team.
  • Again, outside of that pretty embarrassing Korshkov goal late in the game, the defensive group was solid AF. Juolevi/Rafferty with another strongk game together as they controlled play in the offensive-zone incredibly well whenever they were on the ice together.
  • Dyson Stevenson was the only player from the Comets not to record a shot or a point. Everyone else at least recorded a shot on goal or a point on a goal. That’s a huge collective effort from the squad to beat a tough division rival! Great momentum builder heading into tomorrows matchup against the Laval Rocket
  • Goldobin was dingle-dangling through most of tonight, and while he had a few high-quality scoring chances with Perron and Stevens, it still feels like he’s playing too cheeky of hockey. I feel like if he kept it a bit simpler, he’d be racking up the points (a la Baertschi), but the guy just loves to style on dudes with the puck. Still a solid game from him despite remaining off the scoresheet, but wish we saw more out of him besides the dangles.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Reid Boucher
  • Wacey Hamilton
  • Sven Baertschi

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets are back at it again tomorrow, when they take on the visiting Laval Rocket. Comets will be looking to LEAP up the standings as they now find themselves within four points of the second-place Rochester Americans, with one game in hand.

2/26/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

This time last year, the Vancouver Canucks made a blockbuster trade, 1-for-1, Erik Gudbranson for Tanner Pearson.

This trade-deadline, the Canucks dealt Zane McIntyre for Louis Domingue, while calling up Jake Kielly from the Kalamazoo Wings.

McIntyre had a great start to the season as a backup, winning 6 of his first ten starts.

Unfortunately, the Comets’ aggressive offensive-game and lack of detail-oriented defensive play coincided with McIntyre’s plateauing gameplay.

Zano-Insano’s save percentage this season,

and goals-against-average both feature bleak trendlines for where the rest of his season was heading

Honestly, full-credit to Jim Benning for getting Domingue for McIntyre straight-up, especially considering the goaltending fiasco last season when Demko was injured. In that ordeal, they spent a pick and blew a contract slot on Marek Mazanec and Michael Leighton. Here they acquired a player with objectively, better stats, playing on worse teams than McIntyre.

Domingue might not see AHL action for quite some time, so for now, Jake Kielly will slide into the backup role down the stretch while the Comets push to retain their Calder playoff spot.

I can’t speak to how the Kalamazoo Wings play hockey, but Kielly’s numbers are quite unimpressive. The Wings themselves are dead-last in the western conference with 48 points in 54 games played. Kielly holds the third-highest goals-against-average in the ECHL and the eleventh lowest save-percentage. So I think it’s safe to say that the Comets will be leaning heavily on Di Pietro heading into a very tough March schedule for the Comets.

The Comets, fortunately, are coming off an impressive 6-3 win against the Belleville Senators. Tonight, they take on the surging Rochester Americans; an opponent the Comets just took on last Wednesday, where the lazy effort of the Comets resulted in a 3-2 loss.

The Amerks and Comets at one point in the season were neck-and-neck, competing for the second and first spot in the division. The Comets weak 2020 performances have seen the Belleville Senators vault into the uncontested first-place position, with the Amerks leapfrogging the Comets into second-place with a five-point lead.

According to the Utica-OD’s Ben Birnell, the Comets had nearly a full roster of formerly IR-players present at Monday’s practice, except for Vinny Arseneau. A plethora of healthy bodies and the momentum of an impressive win over Belleville could be all that it takes to push this Comets team to make a significant run.

The giant asterisk, however, is that this is the same team that currently holds a 48.4% Corsi-For at 5-on-5 while being outshot in 33 of their 54 games.

Di Pietro is still young and learning, and depending on how the Comets play over this upcoming stretch, that workload could become overwhelming. The team has to play like they did against Belleville, a game in which they did get outshot, but, a game where they collectively did much better at limiting the number of high-danger shot-attempts and scoring chances faced by their goalie.

Fingers crossed the team can ride that wave of momentum and make it two in a row tonight here in Rochester!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Lind (#13) Stevens (#16) Bailey (#95)
Goldobin (#77) Jasek (#9) Bancks (#34)
LeBlanc (#3) Malone (#17) Stevenson (#26)
LD RD
Brisebois (#55) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Sautner (#6)
Blujus (#8) Chatfield (#5)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
David Pope (undisclosed) Vincent Arseneau (season done) Jonah Gadjovich (ill) Francis Perron (head) Wacey Hamilton (foot) Tyler Graovac (foot)
Healthy Scratches
Josh Teves Matt Petgrave Mitch Eliot

 

Quite a few bodies technically listed as healthy-scratches, but team says (according to Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch) they want to get the guys returning from lengthy layoffs some ample practice time before getting into games.

 

1st period

Comets in White

 

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

 

Rochester was picking the Comets apart with their puck control and speed through the majority of that period. Despite their early lead and early aggression on the puck, the relentless pressure of the Amerks offence seemed to cause them to wilt a bit under pressure. The powerplay try off the Chatfield minor-penalty gave the Amerks serious momentum through the back-half of the period. The Comets can’t ever be in a place where they are getting out-shot 14-to-2.

 

2nd Period

 

 

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

 

Comets are barely hanging onto a lead here after 40 minutes of play. The Comets did better at generating scoring chances and legitimate shots on goal, but they’re also allowing a disgusting amount of high-danger shot attempts from high-percentage scoring areas.

Look at the shot-map and how many shots Di Pietro has had to turn away from inside the slot.

Lind left the ice under his own strength but had a bloodied up mouth, not sure if he returns to the game. Hopefully, he does, though, as the Comets could use someone with his tenacity on the puck in the final frame.

 

3rd period

 

 

The score at the end of the 3rd period: 2-2 Tie

 

Frustrating way to close this one out, but the Comets will get another five minutes to win this one against a tough opponent.

 

Overtime

 

The score at the end of Overtime: 2-2 Tie

 

Couldn’t get it done with the extra five, so it’ll come down to everybody’s favourite skills competition!

 

Shootout

 

Final Score: 3-2 Utica Comets Shootout Win

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Brogan Rafferty Nikolay Goldobin Reid Boucher PPG
1st ROC Casey Mittelstadt C.J. Smith Andrew Hammond 5v5
2nd UTI Sven Baertschi Dylan Blujus 5v5
3rd ROC Scott Wilson C.J. Smith Andrew Oglevie 6v5

 

Shootout

Team Player Result
ROC Taylor Leier save
UTI Brogan Rafferty miss
ROC Andrew Oglevie miss
UTI Justin Bailey miss
ROC Casey Mittelstadt miss
UTI Reid Boucher Miss
ROC Sean Malone save
UTI Kole Lind save
ROC Lawrence Pilut save
UTI Sven Baertschi GOAL

 

Takeaways

 

  • It wasn’t easy, but the Comets came away with two big points against a tough division rival, even if it should’ve ended at the 20-minute marker of the third period.
  • Mikey with 34 saves on 36 shots-on-goal, a tremendous showing from him in the back-half of the third period and in the shootout to secure the win for his team.
  • I don’t remember if I’ve said it, but the Jasek, Bancks, and Goldobin combination is just awful. The three just have zero chemistry. Jasek and Goldobin might have something, but as a trio, they just have no sense of identity or purpose. Are they a scoring line? Are they a matchup line? A checking line? The trio just kind of skate around while relentlessly fanning on drop passes ad nauseam, or until they get hemmed into the defensive zone before Di Pietro gets scored on, or makes a save to allow them to change.
  • The Blujus/Chatfield pairing was atrocious through the majority of action Wednesday night. Between the high number of failed break-out passes onto the tape of Amerk players, the failed coverage in the slot and down-low, and the general unreliability at 5-on-5 to transition the puck; they were the teams worst pairing nearly every shift. On most nights, Blujus and Chatfield are a reliable penalty-killing duo and are the Comets’ more reliable physical defensive pairing. Tonight, however, both were poor in their areas of strength, and even worse in their areas of weakness. Usually, this kind of game would lead to players like Teves/Eliot/LeBlanc earning ice-time. However, it’s quite clear that Cull has no use for Teves, nor the trust (yet) in Eliot to play over either of #5 or #8.
  • CTRL C+V my musings on Stefan LeBlanc and Seamus Malone from last week’s game
  • Despite remaining off the scoresheet, it was a strong return game for Olli Juolevi tonight. I might be replaying that backcheck streamable in my head over and over, but he was making solid defensive plays on top of his usual crisp cross-ice passes all night.
  • Rafferty and Brisebois, too, had solid games overall! Rafferty hopefully regains some confidence in his offence with tonight’s opening goal
  • Comets did okay holding their lead in the third, but their defensive “strategy” still escapes me. Simply way too much standing around while allowing opponents to cycle and fire shots off at will.
  • Considering their coach is a former AHL defenceman, I just figured, by now, there’d be better defensive structure from the team that doesn’t solely depend on the goaltender bailing them out. The team’s up-tempo aggressive, offensive instincts usually means a lot of offensive rushes and scoring chances, but also a lot of giveaways and not a lot of time spent actually holding onto the puck. Too often, the Comets throw the puck up ice with a pass, regardless of how likely it is that the pass will be successful. Whoever it is on the coaching staff has to figure out by now that it’s okay for the team to slow things down.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Sven Baertschi
  • Olli Juolevi

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets turnaround is much better this week, as they return this weekend to the Adirondack Bank Center for a homestand double-header that starts with the Toronto Marlies on Friday, followed by Jesperi Kotkaniemi and the Laval Rocket on Saturday.

Also, leap year this year, so Saturday is February 29th! How neat is that?!

2/21/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Belleville Senators

The Comets are back in action tonight as they hit the road to take on the Division-leading Belleville Senators.

The Senators have been running train on the division as of late, having gone 8-1-1-0 in their last ten matchups exclusively against North Division teams. This run of dominance has given the Sens an eight-point lead over the second-place Rochester Americans.

I think I said it last time, but the Comets are slowly but surely losing their grip on a Calder Playoff berth. The team has spent their February playing against opponents who are struggling at the bottom of the North Division.

Certainly, the Comets recent run has been a bad look for head coach Trent Cull, who has legit NHL-level talent at his disposal. The Comets have failed time and time again to come up with a counter to the fast and physical gameplay that opponents have thrown against them.

Through this rough patch, one of the major bright spots has been the goaltending performance of Michael Di Pietro, as his last five starts have seen him face down an average of 34 shots per night. The standard save-percentage and goals-against-average goalie stats * aren’t* that flattering. However, when you watch the Comets play, you get a sense that the majority of the shots that Di Pietro is facing on a nightly basis are high-danger shots from high-percentage scoring areas. I read a quote that Cull had praised the defensive efforts of his team lately, and I almost fell out of my chair. Without Di Pietro playing out of his mind, this team is likely a bottom feeder.

 

Relating to the play of Michael Di Pietro, Trent Cull had this to say in an interview with Cory Hergott from Canucks Army.

I think that ever since Christmas… that he’s kinda been settling in through January and now we don’t have a lot of games here in February, but he’s been playing really well… and you know what, the team has been playing well in front of him as well.

 

I know a coach is never going to say his team has been playing like doody, but, oh boy, the stats don’t lie. This team has been something bad in 2020.

Comets: 2020 Unblocked shot-attempt differential at 5-on-5

Two of the Comets wins this year came from games in which the Comets were out-attempted by 20+! A testament to the impeccable play of Di Pietro.

 

The big worry here is, are the Comets a sleeping giant in a momentary lull, or has the division figured out the Comets and they’re now the lone paper tiger in a division full of predators?

Tonight would be a great game to prove doubters wrong and re-instill a sense of faith in the Fanclub. The Ottawa Senators called up Josh Norris, leaving the Belleville Senators without their #1 center.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Bailey (#95) Stevens (#16) Lind (#13)
Goldobin (#77 Jasek (#9) Bancks (#34)
Stevenson (#26) Malone (#17) LeBlanc (#3)
LD RD
Rafferty (#25) Brisebois (#55)
Blujus (#8) Chatfield (#5)
Petgrave (#22) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
Wacey Hamilton (foot) Vincent Arseneau (done for the season) Ashton Sautner (arm) Francis Perron (undisclosed) Olli Juolevi (ill) Jonah Gadjovich (undisclosed) David Pope (undisclosed)

 

Healthy Scratches
Josh Teves Matt McLeod

 

Juolevi was listed as an illness scratch last game, and now an upper-body-injury this game. Totally normal.

Due to the outrageous number of injuries, the Comets signed Brampton Beast forward, Matt McLeod, to a PTO.

Teves getting scratched for Petgrave is genuinely hysterical. Teves hasn’t been perfect, but denying him ice-time isn’t going to make him better.

 

1st period

 

Comets in White

 

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

 

Despite the shot totals being even at 13 apiece, I have to say Utica looked like the stronger team. The fourth-line especially was putting in tonnes of work for the Comets! The Goldobin/Jasek/Bancks line doesn’t look great, as they’ve been on the ice for several brutal giveaways that directly resulted in shots on goal for Belleville. In Jasek’s case, the one brutal giveaway led to the game-tying goal. Regardless, Comets start the second period with four minutes remaining on the powerplay due to the elbowing major from Formenton. It’s not the best way to generate momentum, I’m sure, but a big moment to start for the Comets in the second.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 4-3 Comets

 

The Comets had a slow down in the middle chunk of the second period but began to regain their footing later on. I’m just saying that a few players on the Comets appear to be putting on a lot of flash in their end-to-end rushes. Maybe, its an effort to get noticed before the trade deadline? Or they’re trying their hardest to convince GMJB that Wayne Simmonds isn’t the answer to this teams concerns heading towards a playoff berth. Comets need to do their best staying out of the penalty box and prevent the Sens from generating any momentum. Not sure a one-goal lead will be enough to put this one away against the divisions best team.

 

3rd period

 

Final Score: 6-3 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st UTI Seamus Malone Stefan LeBlanc 5v5
1st BEL Joe LaBate Michael Carcone Jonathan Aspirot 5v5
1st UTI Carter Camper Reid Boucher Sven Baertschi 5v5
2nd UTI Justin Bailey Sven Baertschi Nikolay Goldobin PPG
2nd BEL Rudolfs Balcers Filip Chlapik Hubert Labrie SHG
2nd UTI Justin Bailey Lukas Jasek 5v5
2nd BEL Darren Archibald Erik Brannstrom 5v5
3rd UTI Kole Lind John Stevens Justin Bailey 5v5
3rd UTI Sven Baertschi Nikolay Goldobin Brogan Rafferty PPG

 

Takeaways

 

  • Well, I said the Comets needed to make a statement if they wanted to re-instill some faith in the fanbase. Tonight was a great example of what this club can accomplish if they are competing hard for the puck on every shift. Everyone and their mums were competing for loose pucks! Rarely tonight did the Comets get scored on out of a lack of compete or effort, but rather bad giveaways or poor line changes. Overall, tonight was a very impressive defensive effort through and through; one of their best against arguably the best team in the AHL’s eastern conference
  • Great games from Stefan LeBlanc and Seamus Malone tonight who were forechecking aggressively and creating scoring chances on every shift! I think I praised LeBlanc before on his effort playing off-role, and I have to re-iterate that statement again. He records another assist tonight, and it was well deserved. Surely the season has not been easy for him, but he’s been a stud no matter which position he’s played for the team.
  • Happy to see Kole Lind notch a goal and break his slump. I was starting to get genuinely worried that my piece for Pass-it-to-Bulis jinxed him for good. Lind’s goal tonight was his first since January 18th. Ironically, that was also the last time the Comets had a six-goal effort! While he didn’t have many of the subtle plays that end up on the highlight streamables, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t without effort. He was doing everything he could to get pucks into the offensive zone. Belleville was, however, playing quite physical whenever Lind was on the ice, negating a lot of what he was trying to accomplish.
  • John Stevens with another strong game; been pleasantly surprised with his contributions to this team as a penalty-killer and a puck distributor at 5-on-5. Despite the Comets rather brutal 2020, Stevens has posted one of the better shot-share numbers, as the team (through February) controlled 5-on-5 shot-attempts 3.1% more with him on the ice rather than off.
  • Eleven players combined for points tonight against the best team in the conference! Not bad for a team that had just one regulation win in February.
  • Sven Baertschi was fantastic, any GM who follows the Comets Harvest (and there are multitudes of high-ranking executives who follow) I would definitely give up your 3rd-ranked prospect and a first for him at 50% retained. He’s an absolute stud. Just rewatch that streamable of him checking on his fellow #47! I mean come on! Who doesn’t want a guy like that on their roster? *looks towards GMJB*
  • Justin Bailey with an ok return to the Comets with his two-goal, one assist performance.
  • Nice to see Brogan Rafferty alongside Guillaume Brisebois again, think those two complement each other quite nicely.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Sven Baertschi
  • Justin Bailey
  • Stefan LeBlanc

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets get another break in the action when they return from another five-day break on Wednesday, February 26th, for another critical tilt against the Rochester Americans. Unfortunately, the Comets can’t ride the potential wave of momentum off this huge win in Belleville, but thems the breaks!

2/16/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Rochester Americans

The stakes have never been higher…

Last night, the Rochester Americans defeated the Syracuse Crunch via the shootout to give themselves a one-point advantage over the Comets for the second-place standing in the North Division.

Nipping at the Comets heels are the surging Toronto Marlies, who are on a four-game win streak and sit only four points back in the 4th and final spot for the Calder Playoffs. Not too far past them is the Syracuse Crunch, who are five points back in the fifth-place spot, while riding a point streak of six games.

So yeah, safe to say the Comets need to put some consistent performances together that aren’t wholly dependant on their rookie netminder bailing them out.

Last Friday’s pathetic performance against the Syracuse Crunch is unacceptable for a team that is 24 games away from the conclusion of the regular season. The team should have ironed out the kinks of their game by now. The North Division is ramping up its competitiveness down the stretch; the Comets are dead-last in the division alongside the Laval Rocket for having picked up the least amount of points in their past ten outings.

Given that the Comets are still without some of their key players, I can forgive the sloppy, uncharacteristically chemistry-less hockey. Against a team playing the end of a back-to-back weekend, the Comets need to show well here.

I staunchly refuse to pinpoint any struggling players or guys coming into Sunday’s matinee lineup, because I completely jinxed Ferland in my preamble last game, and that’s a power I am just not yet ready to wield.

Apologies if this preamble is completely incoherent; I was up ’til 4 AM last night catching up on stats-tracking! One period and one game (excluding today’s) left to go, and I’ll be all caught up! Once its all input into my nerd-spreadsheets, I will return to dropping juicy shot-share factoids about this confounding farm team!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Goldobin (#77) Jasek (#9) Lind (#13)
Gadjovich (#21) Stevens (#16) Bancks (#34)
Stevenson (#26) Malone (#17) LeBlanc (#3)
LD RD
Petgrave (#22) Rafferty (#25)
Chatfield (#5) Blujus (#8)
Teves (#4) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
Wacey Hamilton (foot) Vincent Arseneau (done for the season) Ashton Sautner (arm) Francis Perron (undisclosed) Olli Juolevi (ill)
Healthy Scratches
David Pope

 

Juolevi getting scratched is certainly going to lead to calm and collected reactions

That Rafferty/Petgrave pairing is going to get murdered if they’re together the entire night. Petgrave is a giveaway machine, and Rafferty often plays quite far up into the offensive zone. Not to mention, for a big guy, Petgrave’s physicality is non-existent.

After a brief two-game stint with the KWings, Josh Teves returns to the Comets starting lineup. Hopefully, Teves regained a bit of confidence as he managed to pick up one goal and one assist during his popover to Michigan.

Bizarre to me that the Comets aren’t utilizing Stefan LeBlanc as a defender. Petgrave’s listed position is F/D, so play him marginally on the fourth line, why piss away Stefan LeBlanc’s skill with minimal minutes for some ECHL PTO who’s skill is, “he’s big.” As a matter of fact, keep David Pope in the lineup at forward and just keep Petgrave out entirely. This way, you give your team the best competitive advantage possible? Does left-side/right-side really matter to this Comets team that will continuously play Sautner on his offside?

Took Ferland out of the active rotation, as per Rick Dhaliwal, Ferland’s conditioning stint is over, and he’ll be returning to Vancouver for evaluation.

 

1st period

Comets in the White

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 2-0 Rochester

 

It was a pretty brutal start for the Comets, as they give up two early goals while looking uncoordinated, sloppy, and lazy in their defensive efforts. Comets forward groups, once again, have no answer to a physical team who forces them to the outside — the top six, in particular, seems like they have no answer than to hope their opponent goofs on their coverage. Brogan Rafferty leads all Comets players with shots (and shot-attempts, I’m sure) with Jonah Gadjovich leading all forwards with two shots on goal (and shot-attempts, I’m sure of that as well). Good battle back in the latter half of the period, but they need to start putting more effort into their skating to create space for themselves because the Amerks aren’t giving them an inch so far.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 3-1 Amerks

 

Certainly a more competitive period from the Comets; they do, however, have a big hole to climb out of over the final twenty minutes of action. Comets did outshoot the Amerks ten to seven in the second, and now lead the game in shots on goal 21 to 17. Lukas Jasek and Sven Baertschi (penalty aside) had strong performances in the second period and were responsible for many of the Comets scoring chances. More of that fellahs!

 

3rd period

 

Final Score: 3-2 Rochester Americans

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st ROC Remi Elie William Borgen Casey Mittelstadt 5v5
1st ROC Eric Cornel Scott Wilson 5v5
2nd ROC Taylor Leier Jean-Sebastien Dea Zach Remond 5v5
2nd UTI John Stevens Sven Baertschi 5v5
3rd UTI Nikolay Goldobin Jalen Chatfield Dylan Blujus 5v5

Takeaways

  • The Comets were physically outmatched by the superior team in Rochester, and their inability to suppress high-quality shots from dangerous areas of the ice spelled their demise.
  • Going to be a Monday of scoreboard watching for the Comets coaching staff as a pivotal matchup between Toronto and Binghamton could see the Marlies within one point of the Comets third-place position. Another key matchup between Syracuse and Belleville could result in the Crunch closing the gap on Utica’s precipitous grasp of a Calder playoff spot.
  • Per the above, Toronto has three games in hand on Utica — Belleville and Rochester have one game in hand. Now is certainly not the time to be slumping or hitting cold streaks.
  • Lukas Jasek looked much more involved in the play during tonight’s action, was skating much harder than I’m used to seeing him, and looked more eager to hound on loose pucks for secondary shot attempts. With his new role at center, he’s often been timid with chasing down loose pucks; tonight was a return of the 2018-19 Jasek who was a beast at winning board battles and moving the puck towards the opponent’s net.
  • Sven Baertschi was a stud tonight; he was the difference-maker during every shift he skated. Played physical when he needed to, was forechecking and backchecking hard on some very long shifts. The interference call was unfortunate, but fortunately, the PK group bailed him out. I still think he’s an NHL’er, and given that Bailey is likely on his way back to the Comets, I wouldn’t mind seeing him get another shot, now that Boeser is likely out for some time. The majority of Canuck Nation and I are over the Schaller experiment.
  • Baertschi, Jasek, and Rafferty tied with four recorded shots on goal tonight. Reid Boucher with a highly uncharacteristic, single shot on net tonight.
  • Goldobin had way fewer giveaways than usual and showed great compete on the goal to put the Comets within one.
  • Kole Lind has just three assists in his last eleven games — Once I’ve input all of my tracking data, we can examine just what the hell has been going on with the Utica Comets through this 2020 stretch of hockey
  • I already said it, but I have to double down on this point. Put Stefan LeBlanc on defence if you have two guys out with injuries. He is a completely safe, reliable option on any pairing who plays with a physical edge on almost every shift. I don’t believe that Brogan Rafferty carries enough experience to be bailing out an ECHL PTO who overextends in the offensive zone as much as Rafferty does. Petgrave has an absolute bomb of a one-timer, so stick him on the right-wing alongside Stevenson and Bancks, and maybe they can get something going. Asset management from this farm club is just so confounding over simple stuff like this. Cull already shortens his bench when he’s facing a deficit or when he’s in the third period. So what do the Comets lose with Petgrave riding the pine as a forward?
  • Sidenote, despite Lukas Jasek’s pretty abysmal shot-differential numbers, I do appreciate that he’s tied for second on the team with Brogan Rafferty in the always fun to discuss stat, plus/minus, with a +17.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Lukas Jasek
  • Sven Baertschi

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets light February schedule continues, as they get a nice five-day break before another road matchup, this time, against the North Division’s team-to-beat, Belleville Senators.

2/14/2020 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

Good evening Canucks Nation, it’s time for another edition of the Comets Harvest!

I missed out on last Wednesday’s game against the Laval Rocket as my sister took out a small personal loan leveraged against everything she owns, and purchased lower bowl seats to the Sedins jersey retirement game for us to go and see live!

The last time I recapped a game, they played against the Syracuse Crunch! Tonight, they face off against the Syracuse Crunch!

Instead of mashing the ole CTRL C and V, I’m going to augment what I said last time!

The Utica Comets return home hit the road for a crucial pretty important, intra-divisional match-up against rivals, Syracuse Crunch, after a disappointing neat four-game two-game “road trip” around the North Division win-streak that saw them pick up a single win. win their first home game since January 18th.

Coming into Wednesday’s matchup against the Rocket, the Comets were on an incredible streak of 292-minutes without having held the lead in a hockey game. A stretch that dates back to their February 1st matchup against the Cleveland Monsters, where they led for the opening six minutes. The streak was ended 36 seconds into the third period by Reid Boucher with what would end up being the game-winning goal.

At the risk of jinxing this team that has had a run of unlucky injuries plague them this past week — Francis Perron took a puck to the head during Wednesday’s warm-up, forcing him out of action in that game and tonight’s as well.

Because Micheal Ferland is set to make his Comets debut tonight, I’m just going to get into tonight’s starting lineup and crossing all fingers and toes that the team comes away unscathed!

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Ferland (#79) Jasek (#9) Baertschi (#47)
Goldobin (#77) Lind (#13) Boucher (#24)
Gadjovich (#21) Camper (#19) Pope (#11)
Stevenson (#26) Stevens (#16) Bancks (#34)

 

LD RD
Chatfield (#5) Juolevi (#48)
Blujus (#8) Rafferty (#25)
LeBlanc (#3) Eliot (#52)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
Wacey Hamilton (foot) Vincent Arseneau (done for the season) Ashton Sautner (arm) Francis Perron (undisclosed)

 

Healthy Scratches
Seamus Malone

 

Richard Bachman removed from the scratch-list as he was loaned out to the SHL due to a lack of available playing time with the Comets. By all accounts, Bachman was a great locker-room presence for the team, and I’m sure he’ll be missed. Di Pietro makes his fourth straight starts, so it’s quite clear the coaching staff are much more inclined to give MDP the reps, for better or for worse. Godspeed to him on his SHL journey.

 

1st period

 

Comets in the White/Green alternates

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 1-0 Syracuse

 

Comets outshot 17 to 6.

Comically pathetic period of hockey from the Comets, who aren’t really missing any major players from their lineup. Poor Di Pietro once again getting hung out to dry by this team, which allows a never-ending stream of shot-attempts. Ferland was okay in his few shifts, took a few bumps on his zone-entries but nothing major.

 

2nd Period

 

 

The score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-0 Syracuse

 

You don’t score goals from here!

Not a single shot on goal from below the dots?

How can any team be expected to remain competitive throughout, if they can’t even get towards the net?

Sorry, there isn’t much from that period, but the Comets genuinely aren’t doing anything worth noting besides getting caved in by shot-attempts from Syracuse.

Unless you guys want a relentless stream of footage confirming that the Comets suck ass

 

3rd period

 

Final Score: 3-2 Syracuse Crunch

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st SYR Ben Thomas Otto Somppi 5v5
2nd SYR Gemel Smith Taylor Raddysh Ross Colton PPG
3rd UTI Nikolay Goldobin Lukas Jasek Carter Camper 5v5
3rd UTI Reid Boucher 5v5
3rd SYR Taylor Raddysh Boris Katchouk Ben Thomas 5v5

Takeaways

  • Comets rally back from a pathetic 33 to 13 shot differential to a 42 to 21 shot differential!
  • The goals from Goldobin and Boucher show that this team is one perfect shooting lane away from changing the complexity of the game, no matter how badly they’re getting embarrassed on the ice.
  • No point in getting into the individual players, because everyone was awful except for Michael Di Pietro, who did his very best to keep the Comets in it
  • Di Pietro has faced 141 shots in his last four starts for the Comets, roughly 30 or more per game, for an average save percentage of 0.900 and an average goals-against-average of 3.42. He had a pretty underwhelming start to January, but his past six starts have been nothing short of incredible for this team. They likely are pointless in three of their last four without him in the net. Still has much to work on before even being considered as a backup option for the Canucks, but he’s had a solid debut season.
  • Lind has just TWO ASSISTS since I wrote about him for Pass it to Bulis.
  • Rafferty has remained off the scoresheet in his last five games. Three since I wrote about him for Pass it to Bulis
  • Also, I totally jinxed Ferland too in my pre-amble…
  • Is the Farmies curse a real thing?
  • The Syracuse Crunch’s win-streak improves to four wins and one shootout loss in their past five games played. Comets still have a decent six-point lead on Syracuse, who now tie the Toronto Marlies in points, but performances like this won’t lead to them staying at the top of the heap for too long. Time for their former AHL defenceman coach to sort this shit out.
  • Can we get an F in the chat for Micheal Ferland? Had a decent first shift, and that was all she wrote. It might be time for him to thinking about his long-term health at this point.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Michael Di Pietro
  • Michael Di Pietro

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets return for a Sunday matinee when they take on the Rochester Americans. The Amerks sit just one point below the Comets in the standings but are fortunately riding a four-game losing streak. Comets must win this matchup to avoid a downward spiral into irrelevance.

2/8/20 – Utica Comets vs. Syracuse Crunch

The Utica Comets return home for a crucial intra-divisional match-up against rivals, Syracuse Crunch, after a disappointing four-game “road trip” around the North Division that saw them pick up a single win.

The Comets had a wild one in their last outing when they came back from four one-goal deficits to force overtime against the Laval Rocket. Comets will need to show that same compete-level tonight if they plan on kicking this losing streak to the curb and return to their winnings ways.

Many issues are plaguing this team right now. Firstly, the goaltending has been steadily falling off a cliff since the start of the season. During this past run of 7 games, the only win the Comets picked up was due to the shutout performance of Di Pietro.

Zane McIntyre’s save percentage trendline

Michael Di Pietro’s save percentage trendline

Asking a rookie netminder to put on shutout performances every night to give them a chance is not going to cut it. That starts with the defence of the team. The Comets aren’t a big team, especially without the likes of Justin Bailey, Zack MacEwen, or Vinny Arseneau. But someone on the back-end or at forward needs to step up and start playing the body on their checks. Too often, this team relegates themselves to waving their stick in front of their opponent as if it’s the only solution to zone-entry and net-front-drive prevention.

The Comets opponents face virtually no adversity when entering the Comets zone, and for a team coached by a former AHL defenseman/goon. It’s quite shocking that their defensive system seems devoid of physicality. I’m not saying the team needs to be headhunting opponents who enter their zone, but they need to do a little bit more than just stand still while allowing their opponents to wade into high-danger scoring positions.

And believe me, the above streamable isn’t a one-off thing, every Comets d-man freezes up in their end. It is a big reason why they sit 12th in the league for the most shots allowed on goal. Too much sitting and watching. A team that’s on track to be in the Calder playoffs cannot have this be their thing. Clean it up!

All that being said, let’s get into the Comets starting lineup, and cross our fingers that they pick up a much-needed two-points against a tough division rival.

 

THE STARTING LINEUP

LW C RW
Baertschi (#47) Camper (#19) Boucher (#24)
Perron (#27) Jasek (#9) Gadjovich (#21)
Goldobin (#77) Stevens (#16) Lind (#13)
Stevenson (#26) Bancks (#34) LeBlanc (#3)

 

LD RD
Sautner (#6) Rafferty (#25)
Juolevi (#48) Chatfield (#5)
Blujus (#8) Teves (#4)
G
Michael Di Pietro

 

INJURY REPORT
Wacey Hamilton (foot) Vincent Arseneau (done for the season)

 

Healthy Scratches
Richard Bachman David Pope Tanner Sorenson

 

With Guillaume Brisebois up with the Canucks, Trent Cull has re-inserted Josh Teves into the lineup alongside Dylan Blujus. Teves last saw game action on January 25th against Belleville.

The team also sent Mitch Eliot and Seamus Malone down to the Kalamazoo Wings, so I wonder how they’ll be handling the 2nd powerplay unit, which had been featuring Eliot as the point-man alongside Olli Juolevi.

 

1st period

 

Comets in Blue

 

The score at the end of the 1st period: 3-2 Syracuse

 

Sigh… another crazy one. Crazy-bad period of hockey from Ashton Sautner and the majority of the defensemen. Problems I addressed earlier in the pre-amble appear to remain unchanged, or unaddressed by the coaching staff. No clue how they find this style of “defence” acceptable.

 

2nd Period

 

 

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

 

This is turning into a literal repeat of the Laval game; total back-and-forth game, that is exciting, but also kind of painful because you’re mostly waiting for the next tiebreaker goal for Syracuse. VERY dominant period from Utica, however, as their play at 5-on-5 and on the powerplay was infinitely cleaner than it was during the opening stanza.

 

3rd period

 

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

 

So it’s a LITERAL repeat of the Laval game, haha. When I spoke earlier about showing the same kind of compete level, I didn’t literally mean, give up four leads in one game and force OT!

 

Overtime

 

 

The score at the end of the Overtime: 4-4 Tie

 

Couldn’t make it happen in OT despite an absolutely incredible chance for Kole Lind late in the extra session. This one goes to a shootout!

 

Shootout

 

 

Final Score: 5-4 Utica Comets

 

Scoresheet

Period Team Goalscorer Primary assist helper type
1st SYR Taylor Raddysh Boris Katchouk Daniel Walcott 5v5
1st UTI Carter Camper Reid Boucher Sven Baertschi 5v5
1st SYR Mathieu Joseph Ross Colton 5v5
1st UTI Jonah Gadjovich Olli Juolevi Ashton Sautner PPG
2nd UTI Lukas Jasek Stefan LeBlanc SHG
3rd SYR Taylor Raddysh Danick Martel Boris Katchouk 5v5
3rd UTI Reid Boucher John Stevens 5v5

 

Shootout
Mathieu Joseph saved
Nikolay Goldobin saved
Taylor Raddysh saved
Francis Perron goal
Alex Barre-Boulet goal
Reid Boucher goal

 

Takeaways

  • my tracking, Mitch Eliot has been a net-positive for shot-attempt differential at 5-on-5; every other Comets defenseman is running in the negatives. I’m not sure if the Comets coaches are preaching a physical defensive effort or not, but if they are, they aren’t getting it anyways, so give Eliot a longer look.
  • Another solid game from John Stevens tonight. Really solid pick up from Ryan Johnson as Stevens has been crucial to the teams PK in the wake of Wacey Hamilton’s injury (even though, yes, the PK hasn’t been that good), but it has been good with Stevens on the ice. Beautiful pass that led to the game-tying goal and the Comets pbp booth rewarded him with the third-star honour for his efforts tonight, so good on him for making an impact.
  • Really impressive game from Olli Juolevi who was dynamite in the offensive zone and was rarely making unforced errors in the defensive zone. Had a few of those “Stand-still and wave stick” blunders, but relative to Ashton Sautner, they were minor.
  • Speaking of which, I cannot believe how bad of a first two periods Ashton Sautner was having. To the point where I want to revisit this game during my stats-tracking and try to see if Sautner was getting benched in the third period, or saw his TOI dip. Through the first forty minutes of play, Sautner was a complete net-negative on the ice, he has been relatively passable defensively this season, but this game was a bit of an eye-opener. I might have to revisit some of the older games and re-evaluate.
  • Lukas Jasek had a very strong game as well, and not just because of the shorthanded tally. He was strong along the boards and was creating a lot of great scoring opportunities for his linemates whenever he was on the ice. It might be one of the first games in a while where he was a net-positive in shot attempt differential.
  • Lind and Boucher looked pretty frustrated through much of the game, and I think that’s because they were being hard-matched by Syracuse’s top line of Volkov, Boulet and Raddysh. Boucher was given zero space to work tonight, but he still managed to lead the team with four shots on goal.
  • Once again, goal-scoring was spread throughout the lineup and helped the Comets rally back multiple times to earn some much-needed points. Extra shoutout to Dyson Stevenson, Stefan LeBlanc and Carter Bancks for their suffocating forechecking efforts tonight that kept hammering the Crunch into their zone.
  • Sven Baertschi had a phenomenal game too, he ended the game with one assist, but he arguably should have had more. It seemed as though Scott Wedgewood turned on his A++ game whenever Baertschi was creating offence in the Crunch zone. Tough game for Baertschi akin to Boucher and Lind, as the Syracuse team was ALL over him and barely giving him an inch to work. Fortunately, for the Comets, it didn’t matter how little room Baertschi was given; his outstanding skating drove offensive play for his linemates tonight. Given my comments, last game, wondering whether he was checked out or just sick, I think tonight’s game answered those questions. Baertschi is all in for this team, and he was dynamite for them every second he was on the ice.
  • Tough game for Di Pietro, but he’s young and will learn. His rebound control does need work, however, as Syracuse was given multiple secondary scoring chances off weak redirections of his.
  • Quieter night for Goldobin. That’s it. That’s the tweet.

 

Comets Three Stars

  • Sven Baertschi
  • Reid Boucher
  • Lukas Jasek

 

The Comets Trajectory?

The Comets return next Wednesday when they take on the visiting Laval Crunch in a rematch of their recent road game. Could it be possible that we get another 5-4 extra-time game? Check out next weeks Comets Harvest to find out!