another week of play down in Utica with the Comets have a lighter load as they
prepare for the Frozen
Dome Classic, the most important regular season game of the year. The Comets have continued their win
streak and all of the underlying numbers continue to look good. News must have travelled to Vancouver, as Jim Benning has even made some moves to bolster the depth for a possible Calder Cup
keeping you any longer, read past the jump for all the latest down on the farm!
Comets continue to expand their lead in the AHL as they are still sitting in
first in their division with 26 points and a 12-2-2-0 record. They are 7 points ahead of second place
Adirondack, who have played 16 games as well.
In the conference, the Comets maintain a stranglehold on first place
three points ahead of Rockford who are in second, and San Antonio in third, all
with 16 games played. As the Comets are
sitting in 1st place in the league it’s a good time
to remember that one year ago the Comets were sitting 30th with just 6
But is this
all PDO driven and their results don’t reflect the process? Well, through 16 games the Comets have
out-scored their opponents 45-28 (+17) while out-shooting them too 503-445
(+58). The Estimated Fenwick-Close puts
the Comets still at a very elite 58.29% and while that is not likely to be
sustained for the season, the Comets can revel in also sitting at first in the
news to deliver though; while the Comets are good and will continue to be good,
it’s not likely they will be this
good. The PDO of the Comets is at
102.65% mostly thanks to the great play of the goaltenders. The league average in the AHL last year was
.910 so it’s not reasonable to expect the goalies to maintain a .937, although it’s possible that the Markstrom/Eriksson tandem will continue to provide elite AHL goaltending, resulting in a higher than average true talent PDO. Thankfully, the shooting percentage is fairly
normal at 8.95%, so Utica’s offense appears fairly sustainable.
also saw their special teams decline this week but it appears to be the team
regressing to their true norm. The penalty
kill went 4 for 5 dropping their 87.30% efficiency down to 7th place
– maybe Travis Green should look at what Winnipeg is doing. To give some credit to the team
the penalty kill is not nearly an issue relative to their power-play which is
sitting at 24th. Much like
last year the Comets, this year’s have never been able to have much success with their
power-play, which went just 1 for 9 this week.
4-3 Win @ Chicago
Comets started off their week by playing in Chicago, the current affiliate of
the St. Louis Blues and the previous affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. In the line up for the Wolves was none other
than former Canuck Brent Sopel. The Comets started off
slow, but the shot clock ended up being split between the two teams. The Comets scored right out of the gate with Brandon DeFazio being awarded a penalty shot after being hooked on a breakaway. Frank Corrado also had his first professional fight
in the first period, fighting Cody Beach.
The second period started with the Wolves tipping a slap-shot past Jacob Markstrom to tie it up, but the Comets came back with Hunter Shinkaruk tapping in the
puck in the crease, followed up with Alex Grenier redirecting a Brendan Gaunce wrister from
the wing past the Wolves netminder.
In the third period, the
Comets were winning 3-1, but thanks to a late push fueled in part by score effects, Chicago managed to tie up the
game. With only three and a half minutes remaining, Shinkaruk was able to score the game winning goal to win the game with a lucky
bounce off his dump in from centre ice.
The final score was 4-3 for the Comets, and they also outshot the Wolves 32-31.
were credited to: Hunter Shinkaruk (2x), Brandon DeFazio and Alexandre
Grenier. Assists were given to: Kane
Lafranchise, Brendan Gaunce, Cal O’Reilly (2x), and Brandon DeFazio. Henrik Tommernes has been sitting out the
last few games with an illness. Jacob
Markstrom was in net making 29 of 32 saves and the three stars were given to Shinkaruk, DeFazio and O’Reilly.
3-2 Win vs Hamilton.
night saw the Montreal Canadiens affiliate head to Utica. Rene Borque was in the line up for Hamilton
in his last game before being traded, and Alex Friesen returned to the line up for the first game since game 1 of the
season. Jim Benning was supposed to attend
the game, like Gillis did last year, but the snowstorms in upstate New York
prevented him from arriving. ESPN scout and prospect guru Corey Pronman was in the stands tweeting out some of his thoughts as well.
goal came from Grenier, who carried the puck in off a pass from Cal O’Reilly,
made a dirty toe-drag, and put it in the net on the backhand. Two and a half
minutes later, the Bulldogs were able to score after a deflection off a player
in front of the net and was credited to Magnus Nygren (who
hates Hamilton). Then, the Jensen train
took over as he was able to recover a loose puck off a Bobby Sanguinetti slapshot,
and put it in the net. Jensen was able
to score again as him, Friesen and Kenins were able to make a few cross-ice
passes to beat goaltender Mike Condon.
score was 3-2 for the Comets, as Rene Borque notched the last goal. The Comets owned the shots as well to a count
of 30-21. Assists were credited to
Friesen (2x) who continues his AHL domination (or PDO high), Bobby Sanguinetti,
Ronalds Kenins, and Cal O’Reilly (who has 17 points in 16 games and is 7th
in scoring in the AHL; maybe he should be considered for an NHL job). Joacim Eriksson made 19 of 21 saves and the
three stars were given to Nicklas Jensen, Joacim Eriksson, and Alex
a few things to say that can be summarized as follows:
Grenier had a highlight reel goal, active
all-around though he is not 100% sure if he is an NHLer but he is a 6’4”
forward with speed and skill. Shinkaruk,
Grenier and O’Reilly are getting a lot of minutes and Corrado is playing in all
situations. Nicklas Jensen had a
power-play goal that showed off his high skill level. Grenier, Jensen, Corrado
and Shinkaruk all had a good game while Utica dominated possession.
Sanguinetti recalled to Vancouver.
Hamilton has been signed to an AHL Standard Player Contract (SPC) so he doesn’t
have to live in a hotel.
- Travis Ehrhardt has been signed to an AHL SPC.
- Carter Bancks has been signed to an AHL SPC.
- Nicklas Jensen has been returned from Vancouver.
- Jeremie Blain has been sent back to Kalamazoo.
- Bobby Sanguinetti has been returned from his brief trip to Vancouver.
- Curtis Valk has been returned to
Kalamazoo having played in 1 game with no counting stats in very limited time
Lain has been traded to Edmonton / Oklahoma City.
- Will Acton has been traded from Edmonton to Vancouver, most likely is to bolster Utica’s depth for a possible Calder Cup run.
- Mitch Holmberg (aka WHL’s Dane
Fox) has been traded from Oklahoma to Utica as part of the Acton/Lain deal. He is on an AHL contract and has 1 assist in 1 AHL game this season, but also just 1 assist in 8 ECHL games with Bakersfield.
There are three
games on the schedule for the Comets this week, with a game on Friday @
Rochester where the Comets won their only game against the Amerks this
year. Last season, Rochester dominated
the series to a tune of 3-7-0-0. Saturday
is the most important regular season game of the year: The Frozen Dome Classic. The Comets will be facing off against
Syracuse, who the Comets beat twice last year, en route to a 2-0-1-1 record and winning the Galaxy Cup in the Thruway Throw-down. With a few days off
the Comets then have a re-match against Syracuse at home on Wednesday the 26th.
- Willie Desjardins on why Jensen was sent back to Utica [The
- Canuck’s lack of Forward development is a concern [The
- Where is
the Canuck’s next franchise defencemen? [Ultimate
- Vancouver tries to cover news on their latest prospect but fails to provide any real depth. C’mon Canucks! You’re being out-written by a blog with no resources! [Canucks.com]