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
|Goldobin (#77)||Camper (#19)||Boucher (#24)|
|Bailey (#95)||Hamilton (##)||Lind (#13)|
|LeBlanc (#3)||Graovac (#44)||Jasek (#9)|
|Perron (#27)||Stevens (#16)||Stevenson (#26|
|Brisebois (#55)||Blujus (#8)|
|Sautner (#6)||Rafferty (#25)|
|Petgrave (#22)||Eliot (#52)|
|Michael Di Pietro|
|Vinny Arseneau (season toast)||David Pope (concussion)||Jonah Gadjovich (ill)||Sven Baertschi (knee)||Olli Juolevi (hip soreness)|
|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.
Comets donning the Flying Comet alternates!
- *Double-checks to make sure he’s recording audio this time*
- Comet forced inside their zone for the opening minute
- Reid Boucher (#24) moves the puck into the Crunch’ zone, and the Comets get off some quality shots on goal from Brogan Rafferty (#25) and Justin Bailey (#95)
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) mishandles the puck on the blue line, giving Gemel Smith a breakaway drive on Di Pietro, who makes a glove save.
- Boris Katchouk gets left alone inside the slot and gets a golden one-timer opportunity on Di Pietro. Katchouk’s opportunity comes after Stefan LeBlanc (#3) got caught sleeping after Matt Petgrave (#22) left his post, only to miss his block of the centring pass
- First-line back to getting caved-in by shot-attempts, as Gemel Smith evades Guillaume Brisebois (#55) to center for an Alexander Volkov tip-in attempt
- Carter Camper (#19) attempts a centring feed, but the puck is poked back out towards the Crunch’s blue line. Matt Petgrave (#22) steps up to pick up the loose puck and rips a shot off into the pads of Crunch netminder, Spencer Martin
- Lukas Jasek draws a tripping penalty against Cameron Gaunce and the Comets are heading to the powerplay
- 1st peeper: Goldobin, Rafferty, Bailey, Graovac, Boucher
- Nikolay Goldobin (#77) and Tyler Graovac (#44) go back and forth with the puck before Graovac rockets a one-timer through traffic on Martin
- 2nd peeper: Lind, Jasek, Camper, Petgrave, Perron
- Kole Lind wins an offensive-zone faceoff back out to Carter Camper, but Camper’s shot gets blocked
- Carter Camper (#19) sends a rink wide pass to Lukas Jasek (#9), who wraps his shot around the outstretched leg of a Crunch defender. Spencer Martin makes the initial save, but the rebound drops right on the tape of Francis Perron’s (#27) stick. Perron gets a quick reactionary shot, but Martin comes up big with the pad save
- Boris Katchouk left alone by the Comets, again, in the left-circle. Fortunately, Katchouk whips his shot wide of the net. Not sure what Dyson Stevenson’s (#26) read on this play was, but, it wasn’t a good one
- Comets are getting pinned into their end but the Crunch are, oddly, not generating nearly enough shots on goal for all of their efforts
- Gemel Smith takes a roughing minor and the Comets are off to their second powerplay of the game
- 1st peeper: Goldobin, Graovac, Rafferty, Boucher, Bailey
- GOAL – UTICA – 1-0 Comets: Justin Bailey (#95) earns his 28th goal of the season with a tap-in from the doorstep off a slick feed from Nikolay Goldobin (#77). Tyler Graovac (#44) starts it off with a clean faceoff win before the Comets begin to work their puck-cycle. Brogan Rafferty (#25) picks up an “I helped” point.
- Watching the Comets cheerleaders throwing bundled up shirts into the crowd, and my Coronavirus-senses are tingling …Feeling like Howard Hughes
- MDP with a big save through traffic, followed by a shot that beats him glove side only to ring off of the post
- Guillaume Brisebois (#55) attempts a pass from behind the Comets goal line, but it gets tipped by a forechecking Crunch player. Dylan Blujus (#8) receives the pass but instantly gives the puck away, allowing the Crunch to generate a shot-attempt
- Crunch, again, hemming the Comets in their end, but they are missing a shocking number of shots on net.
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.
- First-line on the receiving end of a good bounce, and they’re able to earn an oz-draw off the pressure from Reid Boucher
- Comets second-line cycling the puck in the o-zone quite well. Mitch Eliot (#52) attempts a slap-pass for the tip-in, then causes the Comets to lose the zone after overskating a pass from Justin Bailey (#95)
- GOAL – SYRACUSE – 1-1 Tie: The Comets sloppy defensive coverage, coupled with an errant giveaway from Matt Petgrave (#22) and the Syracuse Crunch even things up at one apiece. Mitch Eliot (#52) attempted to disrupt the scoring play, but he was too late on his stick-lift to prevent the goal.
- Reid Boucher (#24) opts for the shoulder-check instead of receiving the pass. He then follows the play around the endboards, and Ross Colton ends up sending the puck high over the glass. Comets off to their third powerplay of the night
- 2nd peeper out to start
- Lind trying to draw a spearing penalty, and continues his Lindstigating efforts
- Francis Perron (#27) attempts to chase a loose puck in the o-zone, and takes a blatant hook from Luke Witkowski in full view of the ref, but no call
- Kole Lind chases down Gemel Smith on the powerplay and gets called for slashing, Comets off to a brief 4-on-4 before a 35-second penalty-kill
- Comets kill off the Lind PK without facing a single shot
- Luke Witkowski goes end-to-end and plays the puck through the legs of Ashton Sautner (#6) only to send his shot high and wide
- Brogan Rafferty (#25) has the puck stolen off his tape behind the Comets goal line, and the Crunch capitalize with a one-timer blast that rings off the goal-post
- Alexander Volkov walks down the left wing for a shot that goes off the shoulder of Di Pietro. Dylan Blujus (#8) then attempts a backhand outlet-pass, but Volkov steals, allowing the Crunch to continue their pressure
- Nikolay Goldobin looking sharp in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, he’s with the fourth-line, so he isn’t left with many passing options
- Di Pietro flashes the glove to rob Ross Colton, who waited out a sliding Guillaume Brisebois (#55). Mathieu Joseph then picks up the rebound around the Comets endboard and spins around three Comets to set up Alex Barre-Boulet for a one-timer from the doorstep
- Di Pietro sprawls post-to-post to stop an Alexander Volkov one-timer
- Luke Witkowski casually charging Wacey Hamilton (#36)
- Dyson Stevenson cracks a pane of glass with a hit on Gemel Smith, and the game gets brought to a standstill.
- MDP misplays the puck behind the net, allowing the Crunch to steal, and once again another Crunch player is given time and space in the slot for a shot attempt. Fortunately, he opts for the tip-in pass instead of just wiring one from in-tight
- Boris Katchouk gets called for hooking, and the Comets are off to the powerplay with 2:16 left in the period
- Justin Bailey (#95) gives the pads of Spencer Martin a serious tenderizing while attempting to jar the puck loose
- Mathieu Joseph gets stopped by Di Pietro on the breakaway after Nikolay Goldobin (#77) loses the puck on his zone-entry
- GOAL – SYRACUSE – 2-1 Crunch: One minute left in the period, and Kole Lind (#13) passes to Francis Perron (#27) in neutral territory, except Perron is none the wiser. Luke Witkowski picks off the pass, then drives down the left-wing and around Matt Petgrave (#22) before ripping a shot over the glove side of Di Pietro. Comets give up their league-leading 15th short-handed goal-against.
- Boris Katchouk leaves the penalty-box and immediately joins an odd-man rush generated by Otto Somppi. Brogan Rafferty (#25) ties up Katchok, fortunately, forcing Somppi’s drop-pass to be just out of reach of the trailing Somppi.
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!
- Alex Barre-Boulet and the Crunch walk into the zone for a quick shot on goal in the opening twenty seconds of the period
- Kole Lind (#13) breaks up an outlet pass while forechecking in the Crunch’s zone. Wacey Hamilton (#36) picks up the loose puck, but promptly loses possession
- Comets line of Jasek, Graovac and LeBlanc pin the Crunch in their end, eventually forcing them into icing the puck
- Guillaume Brisebois gets dinged for holding and the Comets areb ack to the PK
- Comets with a shorthanded attempt as John Stevens (#16) centers for Wacey Hamilton (#36), only for the puck to roll up Hamiltons stick
- Reid Boucher and Lukas Jasek combine for some shorthanded pressure of their own, but cannot generate a shot
- Comets with a successful kill of the Brisebois penalty
- Di Pietro faces down another Syracuse odd-man-rush, sprawls post-to-post, and gets the blocker up to deny Dennis Yan
- Kole Lind attempts to center for Wacey Hamilton, but the Crunch break up Hamilton’s tap-in attempt — Comets struggling hard to generate any meaningful offense
- Comets are struggling to even break out of their own zone…its actually quite painful to watch — you would think the Comets are the ones protecting a one-goal lead
- Comets first shot on goal in over six minutes
- GOAL – SYRACUSE – 3-1 Crunch: Some excellent coverage displayed by the Comets on their backchecking efforts, as Boris Katchouk, for the eight-hundredth time tonight, gets left alone in the slot. Di Pietro attempts his patented diving sprawl, but Katchouk roofs it. Di Pietro hung out to dry in another embarrassing performance from the farm team.
- Comets pull Di Pietro with two minutes remaining but they fail to get the puck past the Crunch’ blue line
Final Score: 3-1 Syracuse Crunch
|1st||UTI||Justin Bailey||Nikolay Goldobin||Brogan Rafferty||PPG|
|2nd||SYR||Dennis Yan||Otto Somppi||Tyler Bird||5v5|
|3rd||SYR||Boris Katchouk||Daniel Walcott||Peter Abbandonato||5v5|
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