Never mind the darkness, we still can find a way, ’cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain. Those were the words of Axl Rose some 27 years ago. Tonight, I sit listening to the pouring rain outside of my nerd-room window, quietly clutching a photograph of Olli Juolevi’s legs. Praying to the heavens that his visit with the Canucks medical staff yields nothing serious.
Them’s the breaks, however, as Olli Juolevi once again is being recalled to the Canucks for medical examination. Juolevi’s injury comes just three games earlier than when he went down last season. I know a majority of Canucks nation are firmly rooted in the “he’s a bust, I knew he’d never pan out” crowd, or in the “give him time he’s still a player for this team!” crowd. But shit, seeing a prospect have two seasons derailed back-to-back like this is nothing short of devastating.
Yes, his speed at the AHL level this season and last were not up to par. Yes, Matthew Tkachuk is an NHL all-star. Yes, we know you wanted the Canucks to trade down and draft Charlie MacAvoy because you were sure he’d be an NHL’er.
Dammit, can people get off their soapboxes on twitter and say, “shit, Olli, I hope its nothing serious, and you can bounce-back this season!” Why is a loud majority of Canuck nation so invested in being happy with Juolevi’s struggles?
Using a 22-year-olds career-threatening injuries as a reason to prop up your “I knew it!” narrative is just in poor taste. If an exec comes out in five years, saying, “yah, Jim and John vetoed the Tkachuk pick to draft for need.” Then sure, criticize that. Until that happens, give the player they took a break. You can’t sit there and deny how derailed his development’s been due to back and knee surgeries.
He’s been a warrior down in Utica despite being relied on way too much by the coaching staff. It boggles the mind that the Canucks brass spent all of pre-season talking about how important Juolevis’ load-management was. To then go and give him 14 games straight of first pairing minutes at even strength, 1st unit powerplay quarterbacking duty, AND first rotation penalty-killing duty. After 14 games played, Juolevi leads the team in blocks/deflected shots. The kid laid his body on the line to prevent pucks from going in the net.
Direct your blame towards the coaching and management staff for overplaying the kid. Don’t blame the kid for putting everything he had into every shift to make up for what’s been an absolutely brutal period of development.
Now that I’m crying let’s get into tonight’s lineup as the Comets take on division rival, the Rochester Americans.
THE STARTING LINEUP
|Goldobin (#77)||Hamilton (#36)||Boucher (#24)|
|Bailey (#95)||Jasek (#9)||Lind (#13)|
|Arseneau (#18)||Perron (#27)||Bancks (#34)|
|Teves (#4)||Taylor (#14)||Stevenson (#26)|
|Sautner (#6)||Chatfield (#5)|
|Brisebois (#55)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Blujus (#8)||Eliot (#52)|
So Seamus Malone may have re-broke his arm that he mangled last year. Malone, if you didn’t know, missed his entire summer training due to an arm break that occurred in one of the Comets final games last season. Because Malone’s injury happened so late last night, the Comets weren’t able to get a forward up in time. Rookie defenceman, Josh Teves, instead, slides up to a fourth-line winger spot alongside Justin Taylor and Dyson Stevenson.
This bodes well for my “get Vinny Arseneau back with Francis Perron” dream. Big Vin slides in with two guys who he had shown great chemistry with earlier this season.
RE: INJURY REPORT
|Jonah Gadjovich(upper-body)||Carter Camper (upper-body)||Seamus Malone (arm)||Olli Juolevi (not the knee)|
|Richard Bachman||Stefan LeBlanc||Tanner Sorenson (technically not here)|
Comets in their home Whites
- Goldobin (#77) casually going through the legs of an Amurk defender
- Kole Lind with a dangerous no-look backhand pass in the Comets end while under pressure by two Amurk players. If the pass was any slower, it might have been a goal-against
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets: I’m not saying I’m the reason the goal happened, but yes, I am the reason this goal happened. Franky Perron (#27) slips a body check along the left-wing to set-up a crashing Vinny Arseneau (#18). Arseneau redirects the puck over the shoulder, Andrew Hammond, for the opening goal and his fourth of the season. Great move from Perron on this play to get around a hit for the set-up.
- Comets third line pressuring again. This time, Arseneau (#18) powers through the center-ice to gain the Amurks zone. Arseneau plays the puck off the right wall to himself with a spin to send a cross-ice feed to a trailing Francis Perron (#27). Perron rips a shot on Hammond, but he makes the pad save.
- The Amurks Tage Thompson picks up a holding penalty to put the Comets on an early powerplay
- 1st powerplay unit: Goldobin, Lind, Rafferty, Boucher, Bailey
- 1st group gets muscled out of the zone twice, forcing them to reset
- GOAL – UTICA – 2-0 Comets: The Comets capitalize on the man-advantage, as Reid Boucher (#24) leads the zone-entry with a give-and-go play with Justin Bailey (#95) on the Amurks blueline. The Amurk defenders are late to react to the give-and-go, as Boucher races down to the right circle, well behind the Amurks defense. Boucher (#24) then sends a no-look cross-ice pass to Nikolay Goldobin (#77), who gets the easy tap-in over the blocker-side of Hammond.
- pretty decent start – five minutes into the period and the Amurks have yet to register a shot on McIntyre
- Comets are slowing things down quite a bit. They get stuck in their end for a little bit, but the Amurks aren’t threatening
- Third-line finally breaks up the monotony as Vinny Arseneau leads the break-out and zone-entry for the Comets. He gets the Comets an offensive zone draw after a turning wrist shot from him gets deflected up and into the protective netting
- The Amurks Lawrence Pilut gets past Jalen Chatfield (#5) and wires a shot off the left toe of Zane McIntyre
- Off a defensive zone draw, Goldobin ( #77) springs Boucher (#24) out for a breakaway. Bouch shows off some solid power and speed to get away from a defender for a shot on Hammond
- Little things Sautner (#6) showing off some solid strength in the crease of Zane McIntyre by blocking his strong-arming his check from reaching out for a loose puck
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 2-1 Comets: Zane McIntyre can do nothing about the screen from the giant, Tage Thompson. As a shot from the blueline by Zach Redmond goes in without any tip/deflection. McIntyre will want that one back, but it looks like Redmond’s shot happened exactly when Thompson was crossing his line-of-sight. Unlucky
- Boucher almost gets his second of the night, after a shot from Guillaume Brisebois (#55) gets redirected off of his skate and into the pads of an unsuspecting Hammond
- oof, Tage Thompson gets the puck into the Comets zone and drives towards the net of McIntyre. Ashton Sautner (#6) is late to his chase, and takes a holding penalty trying to disrupt Thompsons’ drive
- Comets off to the PK. 1st Unit: Blujus, Hamilton, Brisebois, Bancks,
- Dylan Blujus (#8) with a shot-block on the PK, he then springs up to immediately direct his linemates to exactly where the next Amurk shot is coming from. His direction leads to a block from Brisebois (#55) and a subsequent clear
- Dylan Blujus (#8) clears the puck along the left-wall out to Lukas Jasek (#9). Jasek leads a shorthanded rush with Wacey Hamilton (#36) into the Amurks zone, but Hamiltons shot gets deflected high into the protective netting
- Jasek (#9) with a steal in the high-slot, but he’s pressured and has to pass out to Kole Lind (#13) in the right circle instead of driving towards the net
The Score at the end of the 1st period: 2-1 Comets
An interesting period. After getting out to an early two-goal lead, the Comets seemed to slow down significantly. The slow-down allowed the Amurks to generate some considerable momentum over the final ten minutes of the frame. After allowing just one shot on goal through the first ten, the Amurks then rattled off seven through the final ten. Not sure if that was a coaching decision, or if the early outburst was the last of the team’s energy reserves after last nights’ grueling match with Syracuse?
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 2-2 Tie: Well, that’s not a good start to the second. A mere 37 seconds into the seconds and the Amurks get a beautiful set-up from behind the net of McIntyre. Brett Murray under pressure backhands a pass to Kevin Porter, who banks a pass off the skate of Guillaume Brisebois out to a crashing Andrew Oglevie. Wacey Hamilton casually trailing behind his man, with no effort to disrupt the pass. The game is anybody’s once again!
- Not much happening through the first two minutes. Comets are looking lethargic. Possibly playing exhausted
- Vinny Arseneau takes a tripping penalty and the Comets are off to their second PK of the game
- 1st unit loses the defensive draw, but immediately clears
- Comets penalty-killers with a shorthanded try, as Wacey Hamilton (#36) sets up a crashing Dylan Blujus (#8). Blujus unfortunately, lifts the puck over the net
- Comets stifle the Amurks powerplay quite well. They’re now 2 for two on the kill
- Lukas Jasek (#9) pressures behind the net of Hammond, and a collision of sticks sends the puck bouncing over the net onto the stick of Reid Boucher (#24) on the doorstep. Boucher’s shot, however, goes off the blocker of Hammond and out
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) picks off a pass in the neutral zone to then set-up Arseneau (#18) for the zone-entry. Arseneau immediately winds up for a blast off the pads of Hammond, then throws a shoulder-check
- Josh Teves, on winger duty, chases the puck behind the net of Hammond only to get blatantly held by Zach Redmond. Refs, however, don’t blow the whistle
- Rafferty (#25) with a slick break-out pass from behind the net of McIntyre to Hamilton (#36). Hamilton then fakes out two Amurk forwards with a backhand pass off a quick cut towards center. Dyson Stevenson (#26) carries the puck through center-ice for a dump-in
- Jasek (#9) pressures the Amurks off their break-out feed. Almost gets a takeaway but settles for a reset from the Comet’s defense
- Jasek (#9) sets up Lind (#13) in the high-slot for a redirect attempt. Lind’s second effort goes out to the open doorstep of Hammond’s net, but it’s sadly just out of the reach of Justin Bailey (#95)
- Zane McIntyre makes a point-blank save on the giant, Tage Thompson, and Ashton Sautner (# 6) quickly gets a stick out to prevent a rebound.
- Stanchions and the Canuck’s org, name a better duo?
- Josh Teves (#4) in an unfamiliar role as he aggressively forechecks for a drive down the left-wing with the puck. He can’t get past a cluster of Amurk defenders, but he draws a penalty with his efforts
- Comets 1st unit powerplay: Bailey, Goldobin, Rafferty, Boucher, Lind
- Goldobin (#77) with a one-timer blast that goes off the post and shatters his stick in the process
- Goldobin (#77) loses control of the puck along the left wall, but recovers with a slick through-the-legs pass to Rafferty (#25)
- what is “Little-things Goldy” in Russian?
- Mitch Eliot (#52) races to the Comets end for a back-check on Andrew Oglevie, but he ties his stick around him. Comets off their third penalty kill. Good effort to get back, but held on just a bit too long
- By the way, Comets penalty-kill hype song is “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine. It’s so hype, that pre-PK is one of the few points of the game where I don’t mind rewinding 8 or 10 times.
- Comets penalty-killers win the draw and aggressively forecheck to force the Amurks to defend in their end
- Sautner (#6) with a solid effort to break-up a centering feed, then out-muscling his check
- Comets finally generate some action in the Amurks zone after Reid Boucher (#24) blocks a shot. Unfortunately, Boucher attempts a cross-ice feed to Goldobin (#77), but its way behind him. Jasek (#9) then steps in to pick up the loose puck, but his pass to Boucher (#24)on the goal line gets picked off by an Amurk
- Jalen Chatfield (#5) gets a takeaway in the neutral zone, and sends a pass over to Goldobin (#77) on the blueline. Goldobin goes rink-wide to Kole Lind (#13), but Lind’s extra moves allow the Amurks to bowl him over to prevent a scoring chance
The Score at the end of the 2nd period: 2-2 Tie
Not exactly a riveting period, as the Comets get outshot seven to five over twenty minutes of play. Comets are looking exhausted as they continue to get out-muscled by the Amurks in their end while struggling to set-up any cycle at even-strength in the Amurks end. Goldobin and Boucher continue to be dangerous, the Amurks, however, are doing everything in their power to muscle the Comets out of high-danger scoring areas. Not sure if this is due to exhaustion, but the Comets set-ups are coming way too slow. Too often, the Comet’s players drive down the wings, hit the breaks, and then pause. After what feels like an eternity, they then wait for the entire Comets lineup to enter the zone before deciding what to do next. Speed kills! Gotta be faster boys if you want to beat the size & strength of the Rochester Americans.
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 3-2 Amurks: Oh boy, make it three unanswered for the Rochester Americans. Eric Cornel steals the puck from a falling Carter Bancks (#34) for a turning shot on McIntyre. McIntyre makes the initial save, but an uncontested rebound gets backhanded into the open-net by Sean Malone.
- Dyson Stevenson (#26) gets into a scrap with Shaw Boomhower in an attempt to spark up the boys. Both guys got some huge shots on each other in that one
- True story: Stevenson comes from the same tiny-ass town as Kole Lind, Shaunovan, SK
- Both guys sit for 5 minutes for fighting and get an extra two for removing the helmets
- Lukas Jasek takes a minor-penalty for hooking, and the Comets are off to the penalty-kill
- Boucher (#24) shorthanded picks off a pass and leads an odd-man-rush with Justin Bailey, but his shot gets blockered aside by Hammond
- Amurks then get caught with too-many-men on the ice, and the Comets are off to one minute of 4-on-4 before a one-minute powerplay
- Wacey Hamilton (#36) picks off an Amurk pass, but gets tripped up trying to settle the puck. Everyone wants a call, but the refs disagree. The Amurks Tage Thompson ends up with the puck and races for a blast that goes off the mask of McIntyre
- Reid Boucher (#24) leads the zone-entry and drives through the entire Amurks team for a blast on Hammond
- Comets with 22 seconds left on the powerplay, and Justin Bailey (#95) dishes a blatant slash in full view of the refs. Comets off to a brief 4-on-4 before another penalty kill. What a stupid penalty to take
- Boucher on the PK again tries to 1v5, but his shot goes right into the chest of Hammond
- well, things keep getting worse, Reid Boucher (#24) falls to his knees in the Comets end while attempting to clear, and as he spins his stick clips the face of the Amurks, Zach Redmond.
- Justin Bailey (#95) races past an Amurk for a speedy shorthanded drive on goal, but his shot is sailed high and wide of the goal
- GOAL – ROCHESTER – 4-2 Amurks: Well, make that four unanswered goals for Rochester, and the third straight goal off a shot from the blueline. McIntyre has a lot of bodies in front of him, sure, but man, that’s a rough goal to give up. Comets still on the penalty kill after this goal too. Hopefully, they can stop the bleeding.
- Comets play-by-play man, Joe Roberts, points out that McIntyre has a .851 save percentage against the Amurks in the past two games. Given last night’s brutal match against Syracuse, I’m surprised MDP sat for this one.
- Boucher finally gets out of the box, and on the Comet’s first offensive drive, he gets cross-checked to the ice nowhere near the puck. He’s pissed at the non-call, and so he should be
- Kole Lind (#13) with time and space in the Amurks left circle, but even after a neat toe-drag, he sends his shot into the chest of Hammond
- Comets finally getting some sustained pressure in the Amurks end with five minutes remaining, but it might be too little too late
- Comets look to have no answer to the size and strength of the Americans
- Comets pull McIntyre for the extra attacker
- Andrew Hammond almost gets the empty netter, but Wacey Hamilton (#36) hustles to prevent the goal
- Great hustle from Hamilton, but if given the option, I’d rather see the goalie get a goal, haha
- Interesting strategy, as the Amurks park a player behind the net of Hammond so-as to prevent any dump-in attempts from the Comets. Comets are quite literally being forced to play the way the Amurks want them to in this final stretch
- Empty-netter off the post
- GOAL – UTICA – 4-3 Amurks: 35 seconds remaining in the game, and the Comets put themselves within 1. Wacey Hamilton (#36) starts it off with a cross-ice feed to Reid Boucher (#24). Boucher then sends a puck to the crease of Hammond’s net, where Brogan Rafferty (#25) pokes the puck five-hole
- Reid Boucher (#24) gets a late chance off a rink-wide pass from Nikolay Goldobin (#77). But his tenth shot of the game goes off the shoulder of Hammond and over the net
- Decent late pressure, but the Comets put it together way too late.
Final Score: 4-3 Rochester Americans
|1st||Utica||Vincent Arseneau||Francis Perron||Guillaume Brisebois||5v5|
|1st||Utica||Nikolay Goldobin||Reid Boucher||Justin Bailey||PPG|
|1st||Rochester||Zach Redmond||Pascal Aquin||Lawrence Pilut||5v5|
|2nd||Rochester||Andrew Oglevie||Kevin Porter||Brett Murray||5v5|
|3rd||Rochester||Sean Malone||Eric Cornel||—||5v5|
|3rd||Rochester||Casey Nelson||Jacob Bryson||Brett Murray||PPG|
|3rd||Utica||Brogan Rafferty||Reid Boucher||Wacey Hamilton||6v5|
- The size and strength of the Rochester Americans once again proves to be too much for this Comets lineup. For the second time in as many weeks, the Comets spend 60 minutes struggling to establish a cycle against the hard-hitting big-boys of the Amurks. I spoke at length after their last meeting with the Amurks that the Comets needed to be faster to set up offense against a team like Rochester. Rochester has shown time and time again that they can easily bully the Comets diminutive forwards out of high-danger scoring areas. It’s no surprise that the Comets first line was the most successful tonight, their success came from quick set-ups and faster shots. The rest of the forward group needs to take note of how to beat size and strength if they want to be effective at the AHL level. Repeatedly skating themselves into the corners to avoid hits, while praying their no-look rink-wide centering feeds work out is no way to produce at this level. Unfortunately, the Comets bottom nine spent the majority of tonight hoping that playstyle would work.
- Boucher continues to be a force for the Comets, as he notches two assists and records ten shots on goal. When I come back and track CORSI for this one, I’m genuinely curious what his rating is going to be. Guy was a threat every shift. That kinda iffy double-minor late in the third likely prevented any significant comeback for the Comets.
- Lukas Jasek needs to be shown tape on how to drive to the net. The kid is off-role, so I understand this will, of course, lead to confidence issues. Right now, he’s playing scared though, scared to make a mistake offensively, so he routinely takes the easy pass over the scoring play. His speed isn’t that bad either, but too often tonight, Jasek would get the puck and either pass out to the wings or dump the puck. Away from the puck, Jasek is infinitely more likely to peel off for a back-check instead of aggressively forecheck in either the neutral or offensive zone. I’m all for solid two-way play, but my numbers show that Jasek is routinely allowing his opponents to control the puck while he is on the ice. It may not always result in goals-against, but the time spent allowing opponents to control the puck is time not spent putting pucks in the net.
- Still unsure of the choice to play McIntyre in a back-to-back. Last night, McIntyre posted a .913 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against-average after saving 21 of 23 shots-against. Tonight against Rochester, McIntyre posted an incredibly weak, .818 save percentage and a 4.20 (nice) goals-against-average after saving just 18 of 22 shots-against. MDP has been lights-out for the team this season…give the kid a start on the back-to-back. For reference, the Comet’s double-header last Friday/Saturday; Michael Di Pietro put up back to back save percentages of .935 and .933, as well as goals-against-averages of 2.04 and 1.91. MDP that weekend faced 61 shots total, McIntyre this weekend met 45. Give the kid a game in the back-to-back’s.
- Comically, Vinny Arseneau got the Comet’s only star of the game. Apparently, ten shots and two assists don’t mean shit, haha. Arseneau ended his night, third on the team for shots-on-goal. Despite his line tapering off quite hard early, I still like the Perron/Arseneau combination. They have some strange innate chemistry. Must be the French connection or something.
- Comets had to have been playing this one exhausted, and Trent Cull shortened his bench like crazy after the first period. Teves didn’t look good as a forward, and in general, that line was just chewing minutes for the team. Perron and the third-line were pretty invisible about halfway through the first period. Tonight was, essentially, Reid Boucher versus the Rochester Americans.
- Brogan Rafferty had himself a decent game, he certainly didn’t have as many unforced turnovers, which was nice. He tapered back the amount of one-timer blasts from the blue line tonight, however, and was much more involved in stepping up into the rush. Case and point, that final goal of the game where he’s providing net-front presence. Overall, a solid two-way game from him tonight. Brogan was on for all three goals-for, registering one goal on four shots while being on the ice for just one of the goals-against.
- Dylan Blujus and Ashton Sautner were relied on heavily tonight by the coaching staff. Have to think that’s because of Juolevi’s absence. Both guys were given plenty of time at even-strength and on the penalty-kill to settle things down. Sautner played a very physical game tonight and was instrumental in clearing the front of McIntyre’s net. Given how often I saw him on the ice, I was surprised to see Sautner was on the ice for just one of the goals-against. Blujus wasn’t as lucky as he wound up on the ice for two goals-against.
Comets Three Stars
- Reid Boucher
- Brogan Rafferty
- Nikolay Goldobin
The Comets Trajectory?
The Comets get another four-day break heading into their next matchup when they face off against the Binghamton Devils for the sixth time this season.
If you want more Comets coverage from yours truly, you can now find MORE of my writing at thesinbin.net