Tonight’s paragraph headers brought to you by Set Your Goals
Who Are You to Say What is Real?
Soak it in Canucks fans. As the great Skinny Elizabeth once said, “the Boys are in fact back in town.”
Kings of the castle, the Comets/Blues rampage look to shake off a bit more rust as they run it back against the Syracuse Crunch, a rematch of their exhibition game on February 1st that ended in a 7-5 victory for the Comets.
While there are still a ton of kinks to work out of their game, all things considered, they were impressive against Rochester.
And What is Fake?
Just like to point out that the Comets running a PK composed almost exclusively of U25 players (and Steven Santini) killed 4/5 Rochester powerplays.
That’s pretty good! Almost… too good…
In past Harvest’s, I’ve argued that the Utica Comets stand to better develop their youth by putting them into shorthanded situations more often.
The NHL is an efficiency contest; having prospects developing in your AHL system is a part of that efficiency. Having undrafted free agents and prospects joining your farm to ply their trade is meaningless if they aren’t ever going to be tested.
Jonah Gadjovich playing three PK shifts in his debut year does not count as being tested. The Canucks need to see what they’ve got in their prospects. Otherwise, they will be eternally doomed into signing overpaid veteran UFA’s specifically for penalty-killing purposes.
Last night was a step in the right direction — Will Lockwood, Carson Focht, and Jett Woo getting PK time should earn Trent Cull kudos for doing something that he otherwise wouldn’t do during a normal AHL season.
But it can’t be like Gadjovich’s rookie year. Cull needs to play these kids on the PK all year! Canucks can’t be waiting until the final year of their prospects current deals to realize they have no idea if they have the utility or ability to play shorthanded **cough** Gaudette, Virtanen, Lind **cough**
Seattle Expansion draft looms like a dark cloud over the Canucks right now — Lind looks like a very tasty pick-up option for Seattle if the Canucks cannot protect him or choose not to.
Hoping to see Lind get some shorthanded minutes this season starting tonight. Canucks need to see everything their top AHL-prospects can offer to their current NHL bottom-six.
Criticism aside, it’s good to see one special team firing for the Comets. Their powerplay was really not great looking last night.
And Who Here Matters Anyway?
Tonight’s starting lineup is mostly unchanged save for a few substitutions and promotions.
- Will Lockwood gets bumped up to the second line with Jasek/McKenzie. Should be a good fit for him; playing with two AHL vets
- Nathan Walker gets slid down to the Gadjovich/Focht line; looks like Cull is mostly trying to distribute the experience between all four lines.
- Blues prospect, Tanner Kaspick, replaces fellow Blues prospect Hugh McGing, as the center to the fourth line. No real loss.
- The defence goes largely unchanged, but Josh Wesley replaces Mitch Eliot, who didn’t look all that great yesterday.
Don’t care for the details? Click here for spoilers!!
It’s Nothing That I Haven’t Heard
- Florida Panthers prospect Sam Montembault, in net for the Crunch. A reminder that the Florida teams have also amalgamated their farm teams this season
- Early slashing penalty called after the 1st line takes a spin in the offensive zone
PP1 – Lind, Baertschi, Anas, Reinke, Walker
- [GOAL-SYRACUSE – 1-0 Crunch] LMAO… damn, this team plays just like the Canucks! Nine seconds into the powerplay, Kole Lind (#13) loses the faceoff draw, but Sven Baertschi (#47) slides in to recover and attempt a drop pass to Sam Anas (#7). Bae’s pass ricochet’s off a skate to Gabriel Fortier, who wheels down the left-wing. Mitch Reinke (#28) attempts to get back and defend, but he misses the pass to Boris Katchouk. After Reinke turns to keep pace with the possessor, Katchouk easily backhands a pass to Fortier, who flips it over Kielly’s right pad… Brutal start.
- PP1 gets nothing going, so PP2 comes out
PP2 – Gadjovich, Focht, Stevens, Jasek, Santini
- A long shift for PP2, but they’re getting nothing going. Nolan Stevens looking very slow.
- Comets register zero shots — then as the powerplay ends, Tanner Kaspick takes a hooking penalty.
PK1 – Jasek, Santini, Tucker, McKenzie
- Comets caught playing heavy on one side, again. Lukas Jasek (#9) misses a cross-ice pass to Alex Barre-Boulet. Fortunately, Barre-Boulet overskates the pass, allowing Curtis McKenzie (#81) to steal and rush in the opposite direction with Jasek.
- McKenzie and Jasek’s rush gets broken up and gives the Crunch a FOUR-on-two opportunity. Kielly with a big save.
- Will Lockwood (#10) steps on for PP2 and puts on some forechecking pressure in the Crunch’ zone
PK2 – Lockwood, Woo, Teves, Stevens
- Jimmy Huntington gives Lockwood (#10) the ‘ol slip before continuing the cycle in the o-zone for a shot on net
- Carson Focht (#19) steps on for a pk shift with McKenzie (#81)
- McKenzie (#81) picks up a loose puck and centers for Focht (#19) for a glorious shorthanded chance!
PK3 – Lind, Baertschi, Woo, Wesley
- Lind closes out the Comets PK! Cull knew I’d have something to say!
- Lind creates a chance at the end of the Crunch’ powerplay and mucks it up around Montembeault, drawing the Syracuse defenders’ ire.
- Josh Teves (#4) throws the puck up into the neutral zone for Baertschi (#47), but it’s picked off by Boris Katchouk. Teves steps up to prevent the entry, but Katchouk slips a pass to Chase Priskie, who drives around Baertschi and towards Kielly for a shot,
- Will Lockwood (#10) carries around the endboards and Focht (#19) steps up to maintain puck-possession. Focht fights for the loose puck and drops back for Tyler Tucker (#2). Tucker, unfortunately, throws the puck away and forces the Comets to reset.
- McKenzie (#81) steps on the ice and forechecks in the offensive zone. He disrupts a breakout pass, allowing Lockwood (#10) to steal with a cute little chip pass to himself. Lockwood evades the defender and sets up Jasek (#9) for a one-timer. Jasek picks off his own rebound, attempts a backhander, picks off another rebound, then wheels around the net to set up Josh Wesley (#24) for a blast.
- A HUGE shift for the Jasek line! Nolan Stevens (#17) steps into the offensive zone and picks up the puck behind the net, centering for Jasek, who misses. But Jett Woo (#22) is there and steps in for a point-blank shot that goes off a Crunch body. Woo picks up his rebound, then the Comets work the cycle to set up Stevens (#17) for a one-timer that goes wide. Woo again picks up the loose puck and sends a weak shot through traffic that gets tipped dangerously by McKenzie (#81). Wow, great work from this group
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 2-0 Comets] OOf, what a brutal outcome after such a great shift from the Comets second line. Comets fourth-line get pressured in their end as Mitch Reinke (#28) battles Boris Katchouk in the crease. Riley Stillman whips a shot from the top of the circle, and Katchouk appears to deflect it past Kielly’s glove as he brings his stick down. Tough break. Reinke needs to be better at clearing his crease.
- Huge hit from Josh Wesley (#24) on Daniel Walcott
- Jasek (#9) with a bit of an oops as he goes to shuffle the puck along the Comets end-boards; throwing the puck into enemy hands
- Woo (#22) needs to move his feet way more when carrying behind his net... almost a costly turnover, but fortunately, Comets recover, and Woo ends up joining the rush
- Sam Anas struggling to safely move the puck tonight… passes haven’t looked good
- Fourth-line caught in their zone for quite some time. Reinke/Teves on the ice
- Huge two-on-one chance for Anas (#7) and Baertschi (#47) off of a defensive zone draw
- Comets first line on a long shift in the offensive zone but can’t get much going
- Period winds down
- Comets outshot twelve-to-nine after opening twenty minutes
- So at this point, I left to run an errand, and it was at this point the Canucks began their Full Collapse against the Leafs. My investment in how this game goes is at like 3% now.
- Lockwood (#10) takes a lil’ stumble in the neutral-zone but recovers in time to pass back to his D before a forechecking Crunch forward arrives
- Syracuse’ Luke Witkowski takes a dangerous run at Nathan Walker (#12)
- Walker takes two for charging — Comets to the powerplay.
- PP1 loses the zone off of the draw, and they struggle to break-in
- Gabriel Fortier gets a shorthanded chance. Comets sprung the other way, led by Lind (#13). Lind generates a shot on goal then mucks this up around the net (As he tends to)
- PP2 out for the Comets controlling in the offensive zone but can’t get any decent shots on net
- Riley Stillman cross-checks Nolan Stevens (#17) into the endboards, and the refs throw up an arm!
- Kielly runs to the bench for the extra attacker.
- Jasek (#9) throws a puck towards the crease for Gadjovich (#21) to tip, but he whiffs. Focht (#19) picks up the rebound off of Montembeault’s pads and throws a shot on goal, but Montembeault stretches to make the save.
- Comets lose the 5v3 faceoff draw, and precious time gets taken off of the extra man-advantage
- Reinke (#28), head down, throws the puck away after the Comets gain the zone… brutal
- Syracuse off of the Reinke giveaway generate a shorthanded rush, drawing a tripping penalty against a backchecking Sven Baertschi… JFC
- 4v4 for just under a minute thirty — Jasek wins the d-zone draw and breaks it out through center
- OMG, Montembeault goes behind the net to catch the puck and completely throws the puck away to Jasek (#9). Jasek can’t settle it in time to get a shot off on the open net.
- In-arena DJ blasts Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue, a song older than 50% of the people reading these.
- Comets shorthanded — Chase Priskie with a wide-open opportunity after the Comets, again, cheat too far to one side.
- Tanner Kaspick attempts a shorthanded rush with McKenzie (#81), but he can’t settle the puck for a pass
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 3-0 Crunch] Wellp, the shorthanded rush from the Comets gives way to a golden four-on-two opportunity for the Crunch, the other way. Alex Barre-Boulet continues his destruction of the Utica Comets and scores his first of the year.
- Woo (#22) finds Focht (#19) down the right-wing in the neutral-zone. Focht cruises on a two-on-one with Walker (#12) and slips him a silky saucer pass. Montembeault goes coast-to-coast for the stop, and Focht almost gets a piece of the floating rebound trickling by the open post.
- Gadjovich (#21) steps up for a scrap with Witkowski to try and spark up the boys
- Comets getting pressured in their end.
- Lind (#13) picks up the loose puck and carries it end-to-end; he puts the moves on Witkowski before centering for Anas (#7). Again, Montembeault comes up big
- Woo (#22) again finds his teammate down the right-side with a pass. Lind (#13) again races down the wing and centers for Stevens (#17). Lind’s pass bounces off of a backchecking Barre-Boulet’s stick and awkwardly into Montembeault. Chaos ensues, and Arseneau (#18) has a chance at an empty net but can’t get to the puck in time before it’s cleared.
- A big shift for Lind
- VOD for AHLtv is a complete mess, so a hefty two-minute chunk of ice-time is MIA
- Another long shift for the Lind line — legs looking a little tired
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 4-0 Crunch] yikes… Comets looking like their NHL parent tonight. After a long shift, Comets make an awkward change with McKenzie (#81) caught in the neutral zone. Syracuse rush for the four-on-two, and Ryan Lohin sets up Henry Bowlby for his first goal of the season. Hard to fault Reinke or Teves that much on this one… they were caught out on a long shift and were facing down four Crunch players, cycling with speed.
- Arseneau throws a big hit as he, Gadjovich, and Focht pressure hard in the offensive zone.
- First-line pressuring in the offensive zone again, but they look slow and lethargic. Lind gets dropped in the corner with a hit, lol.
- Stevens (#17) wins the puck out of a board-battle and cuts through center but elects to drop back for Teves (#4), who steps in for a blast that gets blocked by a sprawling Peter Abbandonato
- Nathan Walker is not on the bench, with around five minutes remaining in the second.
- Daniel Walcott takes an interference penalty, and the Comets are off to the powerplay.
PP1 – Lind, McKenzie, Baertschi, Reinke, Anas
- Crunch with another shorthanded two-on-one opportunity, but Reinke breaks up the cross-ice pass.
- PP1 struggling to generate offence — Crunch kill 51 seconds off the clock
- Jasek (#9) and Santini (#8) trying to maintain the zone but can’t do it
- Walcott out of the box — powerplay still struggling to generate chemistry
- Comets ice the puck. Tanner Kaspick forces his check out of the zone with the puck off the ensuing draw but goes a little too ham and takes a tripping penalty.
- Comets to the PK
PK1 – Jasek, McKenzie, Tucker, Santini
- [GOAL – UTICA – 4-1 Crunch] Fantastic effort from Jasek (#9) to get the Comets on the board. Jasek starts it off by deflecting down a point-shot. Jasek then settles the puck and throws on the afterburners to give him and McKenzie (#81) a two-on-one opportunity. Jasek reaches around a sliding Chase Priskie with the centering feed to McKenzie (#81), who tips it past Montembeault.
- Syracuse powerplay stifled by the Comets penalty-killers to close out the period.
- Comets outshoot the Crunch twelve-to-nine this time around, but man, are they up against it heading into the third
- Nate Walker not on the bench to start the third… Comets down one of their few experienced vets
- Lind almost gets blown. up. by Riley Stillman off of a zone entry
- LOL, Jasek (#9) skating into John Ludvig before going after the puck — possibly, intentionally to try and draw a holding call
- I don’t know why, but Focht (#19) and Wesley (#24) hacking at a grounded Jimmy Huntington in the d-zone is very funny
- Lines getting juggled in the wake of Walker’s absence — Anas, Arseneau, Kaspick take a spin off of a d-zone draw
- Arseneau (#18) picks up the loose puck and leads the breakout — Anas (#7) tee’s up a slapper from the right circle. Decent wheels from Arseneau on this play to get to the net for the two-on-one.
- Comets narrowly avoid a too-many-men penalty.
- Woo starts a nice set play for Sam Anas with a bank-pass off the neutral zone’s boards.
- Some lowkey slick breakout passes from him tonight.
- Lockwood (#10) throws a couple hits on Chase Priskie while forechecking
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 5-1 Crunch] Yeah…Kielly wants this one back… brutal goal to allow. Comets down by four with less than thirteen minutes remaining
- Arseneau (#18) wheels into the offensive zone for a slapper off the faceoff, then gloves down a clearing attempt and cuts to the net. Kaspick (#26) picks up the gloved down puck and wheels to his left and sets up Arseneau at the net-front for a tip, but Montembeault remains a brick wall.
- Lmao, Crunch bench yelling heads up, as Arseneau (#18) lines up Sean Day for a hit. Day very laboured getting to the bench off of the hit.
- An aggressively forechecking Lockwood forces the Crunch’s last man back to ice the puck. Good shift from the rookie
- Crunch rookie Grigori Denisenko with a breakaway opportunity as he cuts through the middle of the ice, but a reaching Santini (#8) manages to knock him off-balance, preventing the shot.
- Lockwood takes a high-sticking penalty, and the Comets are off to their third PK.
PK1 – Kaspick, Baertschi, Tucker, Santini
- Cull must’ve got the note that the Canucks need someone with top-six skill who can penalty-kill…because Bae on the PK is certainly something.
- Bae and Kaspick force the puck out of the zone and kill time off Lockwood’s penalty — allowing Teves and Wesley to step on for Tucker/Santini.
PK2 – Jasek, Stevens, Reinke, Woo
- Have to appreciate Jasek’s (#9) give-a-fuck meter in a 5-1 game with nine minutes left
- Tucker (#2) with the hip-check to send Abbandonatto up and over
- This Reinke (#28)/Teves (#4) pairing are such a mess when it comes to passing
- [GOAL – SYRACUSE – 6-1 Crunch] Aight, well… AHLtv VOD is a mess, but the Comets iced the puck and had to take a d-zone draw. Appears they won the draw but lost possession of the puck quickly in their feet around the circle, and Grigori Denisenko capitalizes for his first of the season.
- Jasek with a breakout pass from the d-zone that goes into Lind’s skates, and he looks gassed because he has no spring in his step to pick it up.
- Teves moves down the left wing for a shot on goal.
- Anas and Baertschi play a little give and go for a shot on net.
- Anas with SEVERAL shots on goal late in the game
- I am not sure if it’s exhaustion or what, but Lockwood (#10) is a little too nonchalant on this shift for me.
- lol, Arseneau (#18) takes a game-misconduct after throwing some weak cross-checks after the whistle
- Jimmy Huntington takes a tripping penalty in the final two minutes — Comets to the powerplay late, but this is likely over.
PP1 – Lind, Aanas, Baertschi, Reinke, McKenzie
- Yeah, PP1 really is missing something — absolutely nothing to it.
PP2 – Jasek, Gadjovich, Stevens, Focht, Santini
- A late set-play from Focht (#19), Gadjovich (#21), and Jasek (#9). But the Crunch defenders are all over Jasek; thwarting the shot attempt
- Holy smokes, Sam Montembeault with a huge goal-line save on Nolan Stevens (#17), who had an easy tap-in chance in the dying seconds of the game
- Time ends, and the Comets try to argue that the puck crossed the line, but it’s all for naught.
- This one is over, thankfully.
- The final shot tally is 33 to 31 in favour of Utica.
We’re All Sellouts in Your Eyes
- before I get in my takeaways, make sure you check out my hit with Locked On Canucks where I talk all things Jalen Chatfield and Kole Lind, with Justin Morissette
That’s No Surprise
- Comets looked exhausted against a fresh opponent — The first-line, in particular, started hot but quickly looked gassed as the first period progressed. Don’t think it was from deployment either. Just outright exhaustion from back-to-back nights. Have to get used to it as the Comets have several more back-to-backs this season.
- Loved Lukas Jasek’s hustle in what was essentially a lost game. He has so many solid attributes to his game, but that step to make his game work at the NHL level is such a big one. Just look at Jalen Chatfield. Game kind of worked at the AHL level, and he got absolutely embarrassed tonight by the Maple Leafs. He continues to be one of the Canucks better two-way prospects with excellent utility. But his game is so quietly solid that I don’t even think they know he’s in their system. Shame. I really enjoy watching him play.
- Lockwood looked a little disengaged tonight. Have to wonder how much of tonight’s performance from him and others were fatigue relating to the back-to-back. Had a couple good shifts where he was on but needs to be more consistent. Not enough foot movement for me. Good edges, but he needs to move his feet way more to be effective here.
- This Reinke/Teves pairing is just awful. Teves has wheels, but he’s just lost with the puck at most times. He and Reinke have no chemistry, and it’s constantly a battle between the two for, “who can give the puck away first?” Constantly a disaster in their own end for coverage and breaking out while under pressure.
- Baertschi was mostly invisible tonight. Didn’t look engaged. Again, see my above point about lethargy and back-to-back play against a rested team.
- Kole Lind looked sharp early but quickly gassed.
- Carson Focht is someone to watch in future games — good wheels and passing. Consistently making good passes under pressure.
- Jett Woo had himself a really good game for the Comets — he looked more comfortable than he did the other night. Consistent breakout passes and defensive coverage. Didn’t see a lot of him late in the game as Cull relied heavily on Tucker/Santini to get the team going. But, a promising improvement!
- Gadjovich a little sleepy at 5v5 early but was noticeable on the powerplay every shift — sneaky good passing game. Hopefully, he, Focht, and Walker or whoever they put with them can generate some kind of chemistry.
- Sam Montembeault was a hero for the Crunch tonight — likely prevented multiple goals against. Comets threw some of their best looks his way, and it wasn’t good enough. Those nights will happen. It’ll just be about how they bounce-back
- Jake Kielly looked OK, but like the Canucks do with Holtby/Demko, he was left hung out to dry multiple times. Arguably could’ve been worse than 6-1, which is saying something.
- Tyler Tucker had a much better game tonight. He’s not a Canucks prospect, so it’s whatever, but Blues fans should be happy knowing he didn’t look as lost as he did in game 1. Loved his hip-check late in the game, haha.
- Comets’ powerplay just absolutely stunk tonight. Five opportunities and it was a godsend for them to just maintain the zone with possession. It was pure ass. Hopefully, it’s just an exhaustion thing and not something to expect every game… because, oh boy, that was tough to watch.
- Really happy to see Trent Cull sticking with his youth on the PK. Woo should get all the looks possible on the PK, as should Lind, Focht, Lockwood, and Gadjovich. The latter whom has still yet to get a look on the PK for some reason.
Well, we Never Tried to Disguise Everything we Want to be
- Sam Montembeault (No Comet deserved first star honours tonight)
- Lukas Jasek
- Tyler Tucker
HM: Sam Anas for his team-leading five shots on goal
My Honest Dream
The Comets get plenty of time to work out the kinks and try something new. As they get a seven-day break between games.
They’ll be back Saturday, February 13th, against the Binghamton Devils — this is great for me as I get more time to painstakingly track stats from the past two games, haha.
Who Cares What You Have to Say?
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Cheers, everyone, for reading along! Happy to have you here, and with the Comets Harvest for the latest and greatest in Canucks AHL development!