Comets Militia: Down on the Farm – November 7th, 2014

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Courtesy of UticaComets.com

It’s been another week for the Utica Comets as the Canucks
farm team has been busy in playing another three games.  This week they went 2-0-1 and walked away with 5 of possible 6 as they maintain a grasp as one of the top teams in the
AHL.

Read past the jump to get the details on what just went down
on the farm.

The Utica Comets are currently sitting 1st in
their division with 18 points in 11 games, 6 points ahead of 2nd
place Rochester, who has one game in hand. 
Their 8-1-2-0 record has placed them first in the conference, 1 point
ahead of Rockford.  That success has led
the Comets to be cleanly sitting in first place in the league.

So far this season the Comets have outscored their opponents
31-17 (+14) and have outshot them as well 344-308 (+36).  Their possession data continues to be very
strong with the Comets sitting at an Est. Fenwick Close of 58.92%, which has
them sitting first in the league, so far their success looks it should continue
moving forward.

PDO is a bit worrisome for the Comets (thought in the
grand scheme of things it’s not that great). 
The Comets are currently sitting with a 103.5% PDO which is regressing
to the mean.  In its component parts the
Comets shooing percent is 9.01% which is sitting right at the league
average.   Thir Sv% is at 94.48%.  While we would expect Markstrom and Eriksson
to be good enough to be above league average it’s not likely they are that good
and will continue to stop shots at a level that high.

The Special Teams Index (PP% + PK%) for the Comets has moved much closer
to the mean especially over the last week. 
The Penalty Kill has taken the biggest hit as it is no longer perfect
and had three goals against in one game. 
At an 89.13% efficiency, the Comets went 11 for 15 this week and have
dropped four places to 5th place. 
The power-play is so far the team’s weakest area; the team went 2 for 9
this week good for a 15.91% efficiency on the year and 19th in the
league (dropping down 5 places).

Friday’s 5-4 OT Loss vs Binghamton

Friday’s game was important to Markstrom as he tried to
continue his shutout streak and break AHL records.  That did not last long as the Comets were
scored against within the first 6 minutes; after that the floodgates were
opened.  (If Markstrom can’t handle the
pressure of trying to break a shutout record then how will he handle the
pressure of Vancouver media?  CLEARLY he
needs to be traded.)
  Markstrom now has
the league’s third longest
shutout streak, going 238 minutes and 8 seconds without being scored on.

For the first time all year the Comets were trailing after
the first and second periods.  The game was 3-0
for Binghamton (Ottawa affiliate) towards the end of the 2nd but
then the Comets started scoring to tie it up 3-3 where eventually they lost in
OT.  The Comets won the possession game
and the shots (44 to 27) largely in thanks to early score effects.  Utica goals came from Travis Ehrhardt, Henrik
Tommernes, and Frank Corrado.  Assists
came from Tommernes, Ronalds Kenins, and Cal O’Reilly (2x).  Corrado lead the team in shots with 6.  The penalty-kill let in 3 goals on 6 attempts
tonight while the power-play went 1 for 4. 
Markstrom made 23 of 27 saves to bring his sv% back to earth a bit while Cal
O’Reilly earned the third star.

Markstrom also received his award pre-game for being the AHL
player of the month.  Apparently the
players actually receive a physical award.

Saturday’s 5-4 Win @ Adirondack

On Saturday the Comets headed off to Glens Falls to play
their favourite team: the Adirondack Flames (Calgary affiliate).  Oprah must have been in the crowd because
everyone was scoring goals.  The Comets
controlled the game and won the shot count 31-26 and despite being up by 3,
twice. The Comets held on to win 5-4. 
Utica goals came from Nicklas Jensen, Brandon DeFazio, Alexandre
Grenier, Carter Bancks, and Peter Andersson. 
Assists came from Alex Biega, Bobby Sanguinetti, Cal O’Reilly (2x), Nicklas Jensen, Darren Archibald and Wacey Hamilton. 
In net was Joacim Eriksson who made 22 of 26 stops.  The Comets went 7 for 8 against the Flames’
top-ranked power-play while Utica went 1 for 5 themselves.  Bancks and O’Reilly earned the first and
third stars while the Flames prospect Emile Poirier scored 2 goals and earned
the second star. Flames goalie Joni Ortio was pulled after 15
minutes.  O’Reilly and Jensen lead the
team with 4 shots each.

Wednesday’s 1-0 Win vs Binghamton

On Wednesday, the Comets returned home to face Binghamton
again in much more low-key affair.  The
Comets controlled possession and ended up winning 1-0 with shots in their
favour 34-19.  The lone goal came from
Nicklas Jensen and was assisted by Dustin Jeffrey and Bobby Sanguinetti.  Hunter Shinkaruk led the team with 5 shots on
goal.  Jacob Markstrom was back in net
making a perfect 19 saves on 19 shots for his 4th shutout of the
year.  The penalty-kill was a perfect 1
for 1 while the power-play was 0 for 1. 
Markstrom, Jensen and Jeffrey received the first, second and third
stars.

Transactions

  • Bo Horvat ends his conditioning stint and
    returns to the NHL.
  • Ryan Jones was released from his PTO.  In 5 games he had 6 SOG, 1 Assist, a -2 and 9
    PIM.  He saw time on all four lines.  He was sent to Utica by the Canucks who had
    interest in signing him for depth but were questioning his conditioning
    levels.  GM Pat Conacher said: “Unfortunately
    he did not have a training camp, he had further to go than we had time”
  • Kane Lafranchise was returned to the ECHL in
    Kalamazoo.
  • John Negrin was called up from Kalamazoo.
  • Nicklas Jensen was recalled to Vancouver.

Player Statistics

Name Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM PPG SOG SoG/G Sh%
16 Cal O’Reilly C 11 1 12 13 2 4 1.18 15 1.36 6.67%
21 Dustin Jeffrey C 8 4 5 9 4 4 1.12 17 2.13 23.53%
17 Nicklas Jensen RW 11 4 2 6 1 6 0.55 31 2.82 12.90%
6 Bobby Sanguinetti D 11 1 5 6 11 0 0.55 18 1.64 5.56%
24 Brandon DeFazio RW 11 4 1 5 0 14 0.45 31 2.82 12.90%
28 Alexandre Grenier RW 8 3 2 5 5 9 0.62 17 2.13 17.65%
10 Brendan Gaunce LW 11 1 4 5 6 0 0.45 19 1.73 5.26%
34 Carter Bancks RW 10 3 1 4 5 7 0.4 15 1.50 20.00%
3 Alex Biega D 11 1 3 4 3 2 0.36 24 2.18 4.17%
9 Hunter Shinkaruk LW 11 1 3 4 3 6 0.36 23 2.09 4.35%
36 Wacey Hamilton C 9 0 4 4 6 8 0.44 15 1.67 0.00%
15 Ronalds Kenins LW 9 2 1 3 2 11 0.33 10 1.11 20.00%
7 Henrik Tommernes D 10 2 1 3 -2 2 0.3 19 1.90 10.53%
40 Peter Andersson D 11 2 1 3 11 10 0.27 12 1.09 16.67%
2 Travis Ehrhardt D 9 1 2 3 4 8 0.33 10 1.11 10.00%
25 Darren Archibald LW 11 0 3 3 2 31 0.27 24 2.18 0.00%
26 Frank Corrado D 6 1 0 1 -2 4 0.17 13 2.17 7.69%
18 Ryan Jones LW 5 0 1 1 -2 9 0.2 6 1.20 0.00%
8 Alex Friesen C 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1.00 0.00%
4 Kane Lafranchise D 1 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 0.00 0.00%
30 Joacim Eriksson G 5 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.00 0.00%
22 Bo Horvat C 5 0 0 0 0 4 0 9 1.80 0.00%
19 Kellan Lain C 5 0 0 0 0 9 0 5 1.00 0.00%
33 Jacob Markstrom G 6 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.00 0.00%
14 Mike Zalewski LW 6 0 0 0 0 2 0 7 1.17 0.00%
29 Kent Huskins D 7 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 0.43 0.00%

Travis Ehrhardt has been quite impressive this season which
is surprising given that he couldn’t stay in the AHL last year and was playing
in Norway.  He’s made his way up the line
up and is now a regular and playing in the top pairing with Alex Biega.  He has 3 points in 9 games, though it’s
likely his Portland connection with Travis Green doesn’t hurt his chances at playing some big minutes.

Goaltenders

Name GP Min GA SO GAA W L OT SA SVS SAV%
1 Jacob Markstrom 6 363:49:00 5 4 0.82 5 0 1 155 150.000 96.77%
2 Joacim Eriksson 5 305:36:00 12 0 2.36 3 1 1 153 141.000 92.16%

There’s little surprise to the fact that Markstrom was named
the AHL Goaltender
of the Month
for October.

Schedule

The Utica Comets go on the road this weekend playing on
Friday and Saturday at Lake Erie and Rochester. 
On Wednesday the Comets head back home to face the old Canucks affiliate:
The Chicago Wolves.

Other

  • More from the Utica’s GM: though Jensen,
    Gaunce, and Shinkaruk are not lighting it up offensively in Utica, all 3 are helping
    Comets win games.  Same for Horvat, it
    may not be on scoresheet but they are competing hard and learning pro game.
  • Shinkaruk in particular is having trouble scoring goals, but his 4.35% shooting percentage should regress positively, and he’s playing big minutes on one of the AHL’s top possession teams so far. This is a good sign.
  • Rollie Melanson was back
    in Utica
    , most likely to try and take Markstrom’s award from him.
  • Last year’s backup Mathieu Corbeil has
    officially joined the LNAH, a professional beer league.
  • There’s still talks
    of making
    a much more expanded AHL Western Conference.
    • Peachy

      Yeah, and Dustin Jeffrey seems to be doing OK down there too. What’s the deal with these two? I know they aren’t super young but they’re not old. Are they those ‘tweeners’?

  • Peachy

    I don’t think Canucks fans can under estimate the importance of having a successful minor league team that the big club controls.

    We don’t just have to send players down to play in someone else’s system ala Chicago Wolves. Benning and Linden control the suystem and development of all the minor league players, so when they do develop or are called up because of injury, they aren’t learning a completely new system. Also winning with guys that you will play with in the NHL is a big plus also. Look at the interviews with Vety about playing in Manchester. The only reason he isn’t with the Kings is they have Jeff Carter.

    This high lights one problem last year and one question this year.. Why did Torts never contact Utica…. Lack of interest, same reason not to practice the PP or practice at all. The guy was like a child that gets mad after he fails a t test, but didn’t study!

    Bo Horvat should stick with the Canucks if he continues to not look over whelmed. If he could go to Utica and play against men and in the Canucks system, sure, but London playing against boys won’t help him at all.. Kings Capt Dustin Brown had a lost first season due to injury, but being around pros helped him grow as a player. Easy choice.

    • Peachy

      Lots of reason to have Horvat to stay with the Canucks and I don’t think we have enough info to make an educated call. Sure, he’s physically able to compete but what’s his mental state? Can he handle the bigs? Who knows. Honestly, I’d send him back to junior and let him get into the Worlds and so on. There is no reason to rush him and the Canucks aren’t Cup contenders so give him another year.