New month, who dis?
The Comets close the book on the month of October and look to stay undefeated as they start November with a double-header at home!
Their first matchup see’s them take on the Boston Bruins affiliate, the Providence Bruins. A thrilling and dynamic name for their affiliate! Don’t you think?
The Bruins have had a jam-packed schedule to start their season. With the B’s having played eleven games already in October, posting a decent 6-3-0-2 record. The team didn’t, however, get the same kind of goaltending that the Comets have gotten as of late. Both Michael Di Pietro and Zane McIntyre sit in the top ten of AHL goaltending for both save-percentage and goals-against-average. While the trio of Max Lagace, Dan Vladar, and Kyle Keyser sit in the bottom twenty of AHL goaltending.
The Bruins have some hope in that the Comets offense has been trending downwards over the past couple games. Mostly due to exhaustion (game against Hershey), and the complete overhauling of the Comets forward lines.
Right now, it’s tough to complain about a team that went undefeated through an entire month. It’s great that the team has been able to bank as many points as they have, while they still have guys like Baertschi, Goldobin, and Fantenberg plugging the lineup. This golden period likely won’t last forever. That’s why I telepathically implore the coaching staff to shore up the defensive efforts of the team. Through eight games, the Comets have relied heavily on clutch saves from their goaltending tandem. The team just can’t keep relying on a rookie goaltender and a 27-year-old journeyman goalie to play the way they have to start the year.
McIntyre has been a stud for the Comets, no doubt; he needed a change of scenery after four seasons spent with the Providence Bruins. His best AHL season to date came in the 2016-17 season when he posted a 2.03GAA with a 0.930 save%. Currently, he sits with a 1.78gaa and a 0.944 save%. Eventually, his numbers will come down to earth, barring some Jacob Markstrom like surge in his late twenties.
EDIT: I wrote the previous section last night, and sure enough, Sven Baertschi is on his way up to the Canucks, likely for the foreseeable future. It was fun while it lasted! Hopefully, Baertschi can carve out a full-time role with the Canucks for the remainder of the season. It will be tough for the Comets to move forward without the stable presence of a bonafide scoring, NHL winger.
THE STARTING LINEUP
|Boucher (#24)||Jasek (#9)||Goldobin (#77)|
|Bailey (#95)||Perron (#27)||Lind (#13)|
|Bancks (#34)||Hamilton (#36)||MacEwen (#15)|
|Arseneau (#18)||Malone (#17||Stevenson (#26)|
|Juolevi (#48)||Fantenberg (#7)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Teves (#4)||Chatfield (#5)|
|Michael DiPietro (G)|
I like that first line! Glad to see Jasek and Goldobin reunited again. MacEwen is one of the few young guys in the lineup to have found chemistry with Bancks and Hamilton, so it will be interesting to see what he can do with them in tonight’s game.
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body)||Tyler Graovac (knee)|
|Stefan LeBlanc||Dylan Blujus||Carter Camper (undisclosed)||Richard Bachman||Mitch Eliot|
Comets in their home Whites
- slow going through opening three minutes
- Justin Bailey (#95) springs Kole Lind (#13) and Francis Perron (#27) ahead for a two-on-one, Lind’s saucer pass is just out of Perron’s reach
- Reid Boucher ( #24) with a huge reverse hit along the Comets end-boards
- after blocking a shot, Olli Juolevi (#48) spins for a rink-wide pass to Zack MacEwen (#15), but the tired Mac doesn’t have control of the puck to drive into the zone
- Fourth line of Arseneau, Malone, and Stevenson lands like 8 eight hits in one shift. Pretty funny stuff
- GOAL – PROVIDENCE – 1-0 Bruins: Long streamable, but I needed to include all the errors that occurred leading up to this goal. First, Brogan Rafferty (#25) misplays the puck behind the goal-line. Fortunately, Guillaume Brisebois (#55) recover the puck only to get knocked down by Ex-Comet, Brendan Woods. Reid Boucher (#24) retrieves the puck along the opposite end of the boards to allow Brogan Rafferty to re-try his breakout pass, but he hands it over to Brisebois. Brisebois then whiffs on the breakout pass forcing RAFFERTY to come up with a steal! Rafferty gets it past the blueline to Boucher, who promptly gives the puck away to Cam Hughes. Hughes gets the puck up-ice to Zach Senyshyn, who drags around a sliding, stickless, Brisebois to rifle a shot over the Blocker side of Di Pietro.
- Uncharacteristically awful play behind the net from both Rafferty and Brisebois
- Eight minutes down and the Comets are struggling to set up any semblance of offense in the Bruins zone.
- Josh Teves (#4) finds Jalen Chatfield (#5) with a rink-wide pass at center-ice, who quickly enters the zone. The puck gets poked off his stick, back to Lukas Jasek (#9), who hammers a shot towards Bruins tendy, Max Lagace. Boucher (#24) is there at the front of the net for the redirect attempt, but Lagace deflects it wide.
- Nikolay Goldobin (#77) with a beauty pass to Jasek (#9) around several Bruin players. Jasek backhands the puck to a crashing Brisebois (#55), but the puck is poked off his stick before he can attempt a shot. The lost puck gives the Bruins a two-on-one, but Rafferty (#25) breaks up the play with a timely block
- Juolevi (#48) blows a tire controlling the puck in the Comets end, but sends a pass to his d-partner, Oscar Fantenberg (#7). Fantenberg can’t control the puck after receiving the pass, and the Bruins Scott Conway almost gets a scoring chance off the loose puck
- Providence is pressuring again in the Comets zone. Oskar Steen rings the puck down the endboards to Brisebois (#55) plays the body of Trent Frederic, instead of the puck. Frederic gets an easy centering pass to Ryan Fitzgerald, forcing MDP to make a heroic point-blank save
- Goldobin (#77) with a solid defensive effort to regain the puck for the Comets and lead a fancy zone-entry with Fantenberg (#7)
- Off that rush, the Comets first-line finally sets up a cycle and they start hammering the Bruins with shots
- Great display of puck control from Boucher, Jasek, and Teves as they hold the Bruins into their end for a full minute
- Fantenberg (#7) pinches along the right-wall to help out and manages to spring Bailey (#95) and Perron (#27) up for a two-on-one. Bailey elects to go for a speedy wraparound, where the puck goes off the skate of Perron’s and just missed the net by inches
- Picking up from the near-goal from Bailey. Kole Lind (#13) picks up the puck and skates over to his blueline for a beauty backhand saucer pass to Juolevi (#48) who sets-up Fantenberg (#7) for the one-timer off Lagace’s pads
- Good pressure from the Comets in the final ten minutes here
- Goldobin has displayed some incredibly crisp hands tonight – wonder if the Baertschi call-up has lit a fire under him to try and get noticed by the Canucks. He’s looked great after near-twenty minutes of play
- Juolevi (#48) attempts to backhand the puck at center ice, but the puck takes an odd bounce out to Jack Studnicka, who gets the steal and the breakaway drive on Di Pietro. MDP comes up huge once again with another pad save
- Zack MacEwen (#15) pinches along the boards in the Bruins end to retrieve the puck and turns for a quick pass to Carter Bancks (#34). Bancks rifles a shot, but it goes high and wide of the goal. Brogan Rafferty (#25) catches the puck and gets a shot of his own on goal
- Another good chance for the Comets, this time Lukas Jasek (#9) fakes out the Bruins with a quick slap-pass to Zack MacEwen (#15) for the tap-in attempt, but Lagace makes the save
- Video evidence of Jalen Chatfield (#5) hitting the net with a shot! Sick dangle to get around a Bruin to give himself space for a shot.
Score at the end of the First Period: 1-0 Bruins
Well, the first half of that period was a bit of a cluster-fudge. But the Comets seemed to wake up in the back half of the period, getting themselves several quality chances created from Lind, Boucher, Jasek, Goldobin, and MacEwen. Goldobin is having himself a noticeable night, picked up on his efforts in the defensive end before I noticed how well he was transitioning the puck up-ice.
- Goldobin (#77) with a pivot behind the Bruins net to bank a pass off the boards to Oscar Fantenberg (#7) on the blueline. Fantenberg rips a slap pass to Boucher (#24) in the slot for a tip-in attempt that catches Lagace off guard
- Oh yeah, Goldy is trying to get noticed. Here’s a slick little zone-entry of his, and drop pass to Lukas Jasek (#9). Jasek attempts a backhand saucer of his own to Boucher (#24), but there isn’t enough steam on it, as it easily gets picked off
- Goldobin (#77) gets bodied to the ice, but still makes an effort to clear the zone
- Brisebois (#55) sends a pass from behind the Comets net, up to Goldobin (#77), but the pass has heat worthy of Hot-Ones as Providence gets a scoring chance off the rebounding puck
- Comets caught lethargic in their end, as the combo of Teves, Chatfield, MacEwen, Hamilton, and Bancks struggle to clear the zone, allowing Providence an extended period of pressure
- Justin Bailey (#95) gets the steal on a Bruins pass and sets up Francis Perron (#27) for a shot on goal at the front of the net
- Providence pressuring again, this time a crashing Jasek (#9) skates back to get a touch on the stick of Paul Carey to prevent a passing set-up at the front of Di Pietro’s net
- Scoring chance for Utica, as Wacey Hamilton (#36) drives alongside Carter Bancks (#34) for an odd-man-rush. Hamilton sauces a pass to Zack MacEwen (#15) at the front of the net but Lagace, makes a sprawling pad save. While Lagace is down, Juolevi (#48) crashes down into the play for a blast on net that Lagace barely gets a piece of to direct the puck wide of the goal
- Chatfield (#5) with great hustle to muscle Jack Studnicka off the puck and take the puck away from behind the net of Di Pietro
- Boucher ended a shift holding his knee up like something was tweaked… uh oh
- Ex-Comet means nothing, as Brendan Woods runs into Michael Di Pietro and the Utica faithful shower him with boo’s
- GOAL – PROVIDENCE – 2-0 Bruins: Yikes. Oscar Fantenberg (#7) has the puck stripped off of him by Joona Koppanen. Koppanen drives down the wing for a blast that rebounds high into the air. MDP steps out of his crease to catch the puck, but he bumps into a stationary Juolevi (#48) who also attempted to glove down the puck. MDP gets knocked down, and Koppanen recovers the puck for an easy wraparound goal to make it 2-0 for the Bruins
- MacEwen (#15) with a slick rink-wide feed to Goldobin (#77) who begins a rush, only to drop off for Brisebois (#55). Brisebois promptly rips a shot that goes off the stick of a Bruins player
- That was MacEwen, Jasek, and Goldobin out as the first line, haven’t seen Boucher since he ended his shift on one knee. Typically, guys go down the tunnel when it’s really bad, so he might be just trying to work through it. Not a good sign though
- Seamus Malone (#17) cross-checked dangerously, head-first into the boards
- Comets, play-by-play voice Joe Roberts confirms that Reid Boucher is no longer on the bench, injury Armageddon and call-up-fest 2k19-20 happening early
- MacEwen (#15) with another beauty pass to Nikolay Goldobin (#77) for a shot on Max Lagace
- Lmao, Trent Cull with the perfect reaction to the Comets bench now being without, Boucher, Gaudette, Baertschi, and Camper
The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-0 Bruins
I wrote about it a few times this season that the team needs to improve on their weaknesses for when the goal-scoring dries up, or if the goaltending comes back to reality. Well, tonight, the Comets are getting a bit of a double-dip here as brutal defensive lapses have resulted in two weak goals-against! Goldobin and MacEwen are looking great together. Still, it’s tough to say whether those two’s chemistry will be enough for the Comets to come back from a two-goal deficit with less-than twenty minutes remaining.
- Boucher out for the night.
- Luck coming to the Comets early as Trent Frederic gets called for holding
- 1st powerplay unit: MacEwen, Perron, Lind, Juolevi, Goldobin
- Providence looks to clear, but Lind (#13) somehow holds the puck on the blueline. Lind cycles around the top of the circle to set up a pass for Goldobin on the blue line. Goldy then sets up MacEwen (# 15) for a spinning backhander on Lagace, but he steers it aside
- MacEwen (#15) with another scoring chance on the powerplay. This time, he attempts to bat-in the rebound of a Perron (#27) shot, but he takes a slash from Josiah Didier, giving the Comets an extended 5-on-3 powerplay
- Comets group on the 5-on-3: Juolevi, Rafferty, MacEwen, Goldobin, Perron
- Juolevi ( #48) diving effort to hold the puck in the Bruins zone after MacEwen wins the draw
- 5-on-3 powerplay controlling with crisp passing on the cycle but struggling to find a shooting lane
- Rafferty (#25) with a colossal blast on the 5-on-3
- 2nd powerplay group as the 5-on-3 ends: Bailey, Lind, Brisebois, Fantenberg, Jasek
- powerplay ends with the 2nd unit getting nothing of significance going
- Justin Bailey (#95) with a steal at center to lead a zone entry for the Comets. He turns to hand off to the defenders. Juolevi (#48) gets a clear shooting lane on Lagace but passes into traffic instead.
- Bruins poke the puck off MacEwen’s stick on the blueline, giving themselves a two-on-none breakaway. Oskar Steen gets a hold of MacEwen as he attempts to backcheck drawing an interference penalty while MDP makes the saves
- MacEwen getting a tonne of ice-time tonight as he’s back out again for the Comets 1st powerplay unit
- Powerplay ends, and Comets get nothing going
- Justin Bailey tried to 1v5 as he usually does, but only managed a shot off the stacked pads of Lagace
- MacEwen gets dinged for holding and the Comets are off to their first penalty kill of the night
- 1st PK Group: Juolevi, Bancks, Hamilton, Fantenberg – Comets deflect a puck high into the netting and allow for a change
- 2nd PK Group: Jasek, Bailey, Chatfield, Brisebois – 2nd group clears the zone once before a shot from Trent Frederic goes off the post
- Comets kill the penalty as MacEwen hops out of the box to lead a zone-entry for the Comets
- Comets looking frustrated as they find themselves stuck in their end
- Bailey ( #95) once again creating chances for the Comets. Followed by a beautiful rink-wide pass from Rafferty (#25 ) to Brisebois (#55), but Brise loses control of the puck and gives up a prime scoring chance
- Goldobin (#77) with a slick end-to-end rush
- sound gone
- Jasek (#9) with a pretty brutal shift as he misses two clearing attempts. Looking quite lazy tonight. Practically zero effort on his skates in either end of the rink
- Providence gets caught with too-many-men on the ice, so the Comets pull Di Pietro for the 6-on-4
- Yeah, this group has checked out… team can’t string together a pass to save their lives.
Brutal game. First loss. First shutout loss. Not much to write about in this one.
Final Score: 2-0 Providence
|1st||Providence||Zach Senyshyn||Cameron Hughes||—||5v5|
- The fun was bound to end sometime. Makes sense that its immediately after the team loses, Baertschi, Camper, and Boucher for tonight’s game. Even with Cehlarik out of Providence’ lineup, the Comets just lacked any consistent chemistry throughout the 60-minute affair that could contribute effective offense.
- Brutal game from Guillaume Brisebois had several golden opportunities to score and couldn’t hit the broad-side of a barn. When Chatfield is doing a better job at getting shots off on net, then you know, you’ve had a rough game
- Team loses for the first time this season, and all things considered, given who was out of their lineup, literally every bonafide Top-6 AHL center was out of tonight’s lineup. Graovac, Camper, Gaudette all out with injury, or with the Canucks. Perron has done a decent job transitioning to center and looked alright alongside Lind and Bailey, but they, like everyone else tonight, struggled to find meaningful chemistry to produce.
- Lukas Jasek easily had his worst game in the two seasons I’ve spent watching him play for Utica. He just looked sooooo sluggish on the ice tonight. It was as if his speed regressed completely. Maybe there is a flu-bug in Utica right now because he looked uncharacteristically late to both the offensive and defensive side of the game tonight. His line was hard-carried by Goldobin. I campaigned last game, for him to be moved back to the wing, where he looked his best last season. Now I’m not even sure where to put him if this is the kind of effort he is going to put in.
- Speaking of whom. Goldobin played fantastic, despite not getting on the scoresheet. He had several fantastic breakout rushes as well as some beautiful cross-ice feeds to Jasek and MacEwen that unfortunately weren’t capitalized on. I’m 100% positive the news of Baertschi’s call-up acted as a motivator for Goldobin because he was playing quite well tonight.
- After that brutal opening goal, Rafferty regained his footing in the remaining two periods. He has a bomb of a shot, and I’m glad the coaching staff elected to throw both he and Juolevi out there to generate scoring chances. Jury’s still out on whether his lame-eye is holding him back from having better play with the puck. I’m not trying to come across rude or anything, but the flub of the puck on the opening goal, surely came from him not having two good eyes. There have been other occasions where he’s blindly passed the puck onto his opponent’s stick, and I genuinely wonder if that’s from a lack of peripheral vision/depth perception. He’s still easily the Comets best RD (after Sautner and Fantenberg), but you have to wonder what his ceiling would be if his vision were 100% all there.
- Jalen Chatfield had a good game, he was a wrecking ball on the ice tonight. One of my biggest complaints about him is his desire to step up into the offensive, only for him to immediately waste the puck or blow the team’s control of the zone. He looked “better” tonight, in that he actually had some shots land on net. He’s been in the AHL almost three seasons now, and by most Utica diehard accounts, he’s yet to progress his offensive game in any way. I’m just not sold on Chatfield’s physical presence being enough to justify his spot in the daily line up.
- Despite the miscommunication with MDP on the 2nd goal, I thought Juolevi had himself a pretty decent night. I really wish he took a shot on that picture-perfect shooting lane. He’s got a sneaky good shot from the blue line, so I don’t know why Juolevi thought his safest option was a pass through six bodies that were clogging up center-ice? Fantenberg had a couple bombs on net tonight, but otherwise, he looked quite middling and had several gaffes where he needed to be bailed out by others.
- Again, this was bound to happen, that the Comets lose the NHL caliber players and the scoring/winning falls off a cliff. Fortunately, it does look like the team took my telepathic advice by working on their defensive games. The question going forward will be whether they can find their goal-scoring touch in the absence of some of the key forwards who rocketed this team to the top of the league in goals-for.
Comets Three Stars
- Michael Di Pietro
- Me, for not falling asleep
- You, for reading this entire thing
The Comets Trajectory?
The Comets return tomorrow night against the Rochester Americans. The Amurks most recently dominated the Binghamton Devils at home by a score of 4-2. Fingers crossed Reid Boucher is ok to return to the lineup Saturday night. Otherwise, the team might be in for a repeat of tonight’s effort against the B’s.
As always, if you want to read up on this Comets Harvest or the 2018-19 Farmies editions, you can find them all at my Comets Harvest Blog here
If you want a more condensed version of Comets recaps, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net