Utica Comets Scouting Report – October 7th, 2014

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Ex-Comet Mathieu Corbeil still in his Utica Mask – Courtesy of @AHLFlames

Here at Canucks Army, we have a few activities we consistently
enjoy: writing analysis on the Canucks, looking at fancystats,
and occasionally even watching a real hockey game. 
Sometimes we even leave our mother’s basement to attend a real hockey
game in person. 

This past weekend, the Utica Comets played two pre-season games both
against the Adirondack Flames (AHL Affiliate of the Calgary Flames).  The game on Friday night was in a smaller
community arena in Rome, NY rather than their home in Utica, so after work I jumped in my car and headed to
upstate New York where I had press access to this game to watch the Comets as
they try and figure out their roster.   

Read past the jump because I watched this game.

The System

Early on, the game was in favour of the Adirondack Flames as
the Comets were penned in their zone for the first bit.  For the first two periods the Flames were in
control of the game.  Overall the Comets
were employing a very possession based system that should make Canucks
analytics fans happy.  On zone-entries
the Comets were doing their best to make sure to cross the blue line with
possession, the rare times the puck was dumped was when their was little other
option or mainly to allow for a line change. 
Defencemen were often trying to carry the puck out as well while doing
their best to allow players to carry the puck into the defensive zone.

During the first period, when the game was tied 0-0, the
Comets were employing a 1-2-2 system through the Neutral Zone and with what
seemed like a fairly aggressive forecheck. 
Usually the pivot chased the puck and had a second forward close in toe
for additional pressure.

On the backcheck the Comets would often play with a 2-1-2
system which during the PK was a 1-3 system moving into the standard diamond
shape.

Early on the power play was the standard 1-3-1 with various
players moving back as the puck was cycled. 
This formation moved to an umbrella type set up in the 3rd
period.

The third period the Comets were playing from behind, 0-2,
but fortunately the Flames had ex-Comet Matthieu Corbeil in net.  If you remember from last year, Corbeil was
signed by the Comets, but only ended up playing in 3 games and spent the rest of
the year moving from team to team in the ECHL and the Central Hockey League
putting up horrible numbers on each team. 
He still has his Utica Comets mask, which he was wearing while playing
the last half of the game in a Flames uniform, and allowing in 4 Comets’ goals.

The Roster

For reference the lines for this game were as follows and
was fairly consistent throughout the game. 
If you forgot who some of these players are, check out the Training Camp Player Preview.  Without further adieu the players in the game
were:

M. Zalewski-S. Zalewski-P. Kennedy

Archibald-Jeffery-Grenier

Gaunce-Kattelus-Mallet

Kenins-Valk-Scheidl

 

Ehrhardt-Huskins

Lafranchise-Biega

Tommernes-Blain

 

Markstrom

Eriksson

Like the systems I tried to take a few notes on each player
whenever I noticed them.  Here’s a few
notes I took on each of these players in game.

Forwards

Mike Zalewski – Mike himself didn’t stand
out individually but his line was very visible all night.  They created many chances and were noticeable
in all three zones.

Steve Zalewski – Was very much a tryout
for Steve as his little brother is almost guaranteed a spot in the lineup.  Him and Kennedy were very physical in the
first period, creating a scoring chance by crashing the net.  This game also gave the brothers to play in a game on the top line in their home town.

Patrick Kennedy – I was surprised to see
Kennedy on the top line in this game given that he was primarily a 4th
line forward in 2013-2014.

Darren Archibald – A few good set-ups by
Archibald to help his line including a great cross-ice pass in the second for
another scoring chance.

Dustin Jeffery – Very noticeable in the game
in a good way, active in plenty of offensive opportunities and had a few
scoring chances of his own.  Caused the
first Comets’ goal by carrying the puck down the ice (on the PP) and scoring
from the zone entry.

Alex Grenier – Along with his line, Grenier
looked pretty good, was physically active and was able to win many battles
along the board in the offensive zone. 
Grenier was strong on the back check. 
Set up Jeffrey on the second goal with a good pass.

Brendan Gaunce – Gaunce and the 4th
line didn’t get that much playing time this game.  Gaunce is definitely a big player and his
play was able to make Alex Mallet look good in the first.  Was on the ice for the first goal against
which was a fairly ugly push in.  He
almost scored a third goal by crashing the net and later set up Kennedy to
score.

Eric Kattelus – Was not very noticeable all
night which does not bode well for his chances to stand out for Travis Green.  His entire line had low time on ice and I
suspect Gaunce was helping him (and Mallet) look better than they are.

Alexandre Mallet – I can’t say much good about
Mallet’s game, he was consistently out-battled for the puck, was pushed
around and if he keeps playing like this he won’t be a Canuck prospect for
long.  He had two fights on the night and
didn’t seem to provide much else to the team.

Ronalds Kenins – Kenins had his first game on
North American ice and it looks like he is going to need some time to
adjust.  He did have a good scoring
opportunity with Valk in the first.  By
the end of the first was bumped down to the fourth line.

Curtis Valk – His lack of size is noticeable on the
ice but I don’t think it was a concern as he was active throughout the night in
causing good offensive opportunities without looking bad defensively.  Playing with Scheidel and Kenins he even made
them look good.  He received some second
unit power play time.

Lane Scheidl – Scheidl I noticed a few times
in the game, when he was doing something good it was usually because Valk was
working right along side him.  Other than
that he was throwing his body around a lot, a very physical player.

Defencemen

Travis Ehrhardt – I was surprised to see him
playing the top pairing with Stanley Cup Winning Defencemen Kent Huskins and as
a result he wasn’t terrible on the ice. 
He had some good stick handling skills to keep the puck from the Flames
but was looking weak in trying to prevent zone entries.

Kent Huskins – I didn’t notice Huskins doing
anything spectacular.  He’s a good AHL
defencemen, fairly quiet, but does a decent job at preventing goals from being
scored.  Despite this night he’s nearly a
lock to make the Comets.

Kane Lafranchise – Looked all right on the
night but was supported by Biega so there’s no surprise there.   His defensive play reading was a bit weak as
it was not uncommon for Biega to pinch in leaving Lafranchise not knowing how to
defend the zone on his own.

Alex Biega – Continues to look good
defensively and offensively.  Would pinch
in when he ad the opportunity and was given powerplay time where he played the
point.

Henrik Tommernes – Good at reading the play
from the Neutral Zone and had a hard shot while playing the point in the
offensive zone.

Jeremie Blain – Played a very physical
defensive game and did not shy from hitting opponents with the puck.  Would deny zone-entries by going for the hit.  His skating seems poor, especially backwards,
as he would be walk around by opponents. 
Did set up Archibald for a good chance.

Goaltenders

Jacob Markstrom – Markstrom played the first
half of the game and looked decent but there was still something awkward in his
body language.  He’s big and kept good
body angle to the puck but he was still a bit sluggish.  All in all made 13 of 15 saves.

Joacim Eriksson – Joacim came in the game
halfway through the second (intentionally) and it was pretty obvious that the
local fans love him.  He looked good
right off the start but wasn’t challenged too much but wasn’t challenged that
often.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see
him get the opening start in the regular season (but I said that last year too, when it was awarded to Joe Cannata).