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CanucksArmy Utica Comets Five-Through-Five: A Five Game-Segment Report

I thought I would introduce something new this year and start doing reports based on five players, through five-game segments of the Comets season. I have been getting some feedback in the comments sections of my post-game reports asking for fewer details on the actual games, but for more details on the prospects who are playing them.

Some of these players will fall outside of prospect territory, as is the case with Reid Boucher, but it is hard to discuss the Comets without also talking about the engine that runs the offence there.

I am hoping that this series will help for those who want more info on the prospects, but can’t find the time to read through what has admittedly become a lengthy post-game report. My post-game reports will continue as they have in the past, however, as I also receive plenty of feedback from folks who enjoy the way they have been done up to this point.

I won’t be making any guarantees that these reports will come out after every five-game segment, but I will do them as often as I have time to do so.

The Comets have played five games so far this season, facing off against the Toronto Marlies three times, as well as the Belleville Senators and Charlotte Checkers once each. The club has a record of three wins and two losses to show for their efforts. Richard Bachman has started three games, picking up one win, while Ivan Kulbakov won both of his starts this past weekend against the Toronto Marlies.

The Comets power play sat sixth overall in the AHL, going 6/20 with a 30.0% success rate, while their penalty kill sat tied for 10th in the league, giving up two-goals while being shorthanded 19 times for an 89.5% success rate. The club has also given up four shorthanded goals against this season to lead the league in that dubious category.

The Comets have scored 21 goals so far this season while giving up 19. They also lead the AHL with 88 minutes in penalties. Forwards Brendan Woods and Carter Bancks have combined for 46 of those minutes between the two of them.

Reid Boucher leads the club, as well as the entire AHL with eight goals and one helper through five games. Boucher is doing so while working with a shooting percentage of 40%. That isn’t sustainable, but Boucher has never had a problem scoring in this league. The 25-year-old winger has fired 20 shots on net through five games, has two game-winning goals and four on the power play. Boucher is seeing time on both special teams for Trent Cull’s Comets and has shown well at both ends of the ice.

Second-year forward, Zack MacEwen sits second on the team in scoring with two goals and four assists to give himself six points through five games. MacEwen has lined up with Brendan Woods as his centre for each game so far and the pair has been bringing a physical game, while MacEwen has been putting up points as well. One of MacEwen’s goals came with the man advantage. The big winger has put 10 shots on net, scoring on 20% of his chances. MacEwen has shown a noticeable improvement in his skating and is showing separation speed in all three zones of the ice. TheBigFella hasn’t seen any time yet on the penalty kill this season, but from what I understand, the team does intend to get him some reps there with the hope that he will be able to kill penalties when he makes the jump to the NHL.

Rookie forward, Tanner MacMaster showed well in a late-season audition last year with the Comets and he’s picked up right where he left off. He has played in all five games so far, playing with Reid Boucher on his opposite wing with either Tanner Kero or Cam Darcy in the middle. MacMaster has only put four shots on net, scoring on 25% of his chances so far this season. He has looked like a good fit with Boucher and the two are clicking on the ice. MacMaster has seen his share of time on the power play for the Comets this season but hasn’t yet seen any time on the penalty kill. He sits third in team scoring with one goal and four helpers through five games. MacMaster’s five points have him sitting comfortably in the top-ten in rookie scoring for the AHL so far this year.

Jonathan Dahlen has played in four of the Comets first five games and has three assists to show for his efforts. The winger has seen some revolving linemates but has shown well. He seems to be able to be able to sneak into areas to take passes without being noticed and has been dishing some filthy passes of his own. Dahlen has been getting power-play time but has not seen any action on the penalty kill yet. He has put nine shots on net and two of his assists have come with the man advantage. Dahlen still has some work to do at this level, but he has adapted well to the North American ice so far, and the pace of the AHL game hasn’t seemed to be an issue for him.

Adam Gaudette has recently been called up to the parent Canucks, and he has shown well enough through four games in Utica to have earned that call-up. The pivot has played in all situations for the Comets and has looked great in all three zones. He’s put 11 shots on net, scoring twice and picking up a pair of helpers as well. One of his goals, as well as one of his assists, have come with the man advantage. He has operated with an 18.2% shooting percentage so far with the Comets. Gaudette’s sweet toe drag goal was one that would make Bo Horvat blush. This kid has some hands and a sneaky release on his shot. Gaudette has had Darren Archibald riding shotgun on one wing in each game so far, with a rotating cast of Kole Lind, Petrus Palmu, and Jonathan Dahlen on the other side.

In the next edition of this series, I will look at five different Comets players and will rotate throughout the roster as the season goes on. Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section for additional info that you would like to see included in these posts, keeping in mind that analytics is not my strong suit. You won’t be getting piles of charts and graphs in these posts. If the feedback is decent, I will continue on with the series.

The Comets are back in action at 4:00 pm Pacific tomorrow in Utica as the Rochester Americans roll into town for the first time this year. As always, CanucksArmy will have your post-game report following the game.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Thanks for the read as always, Cory. I usually do open the Comets recaps but tend to skim the details down to the descriptions of the goals. I would say that my interest, in a segment like this, would be on any player that has a chance of playing for the Canucks in the future, prospect or veteran, NHL contract or not. So, I obviously want to hear about the progress of Gaudette, Lind, Dahlén, Gadjovich, Juolevi, Jasek, MacEwen, Palmu, Demko, Chatfield and Brisebois as prospects of the big squad (though I am still on the “what do they want with Brisebois train?”), along with the play of Canucks property veterans like Gaunce, Boucher, Kero, Sautner, McEneny, Biega and Archibald, and also the few long shots “road less travelled” guys trying to earn a look with the Canucks like MacMaster, Carcone and Kulbakov. In that sense, I guess I’m talking about most of the team.

  • Dinsdale

    I really enjoy your game reports for how deeply you dive without the often-hard-to-understand (and dry as hell) analytics. (You’re also showing huge gains in writing quality, too.) Your passion for the subject is a pleasure.
    That said, this kind of multi-game summarization’s also really useful. It forms a narrative to the single-game snapshots.
    Plus, more Comets content–what’s not to love?

  • I like the detailed coverage of individual prospects (players). I don’t live in Utica, so having someone like you with a good eye, reporting back to Canucksnation is greatly appreciated.

    You are a great source of information.

  • The_Blueline

    Cory, thanks for this, and for all your hard work you put in.

    I am one of the readers that would prefer shorter post game articles (I know, I know, you don’t like it). For this format, I think you could improve readability significantly by (1) using subtitles (e.g. for each player), and (2) starting with a stats table, as approx. half the wording used desribing the players are stats (shots, s% etc.).

    No hard feelings if you ignore my suggestions 🙂
    Keep up the good work!

  • Beer Can Boyd

    wondering where all of the Gillis supporters have disappeared to? 4 years ago, the Canucks were almost entirely bereft of prospects. Now, not only do they have a fast, exciting young NHL team, they have so many promising kids in the minors that they don’t have the space to play them all every game. Exciting.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      One doesn’t have to be a Gillis supporter to be a Benning dissenter. I thought Gillis should be fired at the time, but will grant that the guy managed the team to two President’s Trophies and a Stanley Cup Final, and presided over the best iteration of the team that has ever existed. It’s amazing how little gratitude that’ll get you long term. Gillis traded draft picks for guys who actually contributed to getting the team to within a sniff of the Cup, and when he did use his picks, he was almost invariably in the bottom end of the draft. To think that Benning would have gotten Hughes, Pettersson and Juolevi picking in the 20’s is patently ridiculous (and yes, I know Boeser went around then, and think that’s probably where JB deserves the most praise, but it’s not gonna happen every year). And it isn’t as though Gillis left JB nothing either: Burrows got him Dahlén, Tanev and Edler are still our #1 D pairing, Horvat is our future captain, etc.

      Benning had rebuilding to do, and while he’s finally started to make appreciable progress with it, he’s still made some massive blunders along the way and considerably slowed the process by trading away draft picks and signing veterans in an effort to jumpstart the rebuild. He deserves criticism for that, and gets it.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        Personally, I couldn’t stand the guy and his imperious, condescending manner. He was indeed the GM of that amazing team. But the scouting department under Gillis drafted no-one of any significance, regardless of where they picked, except for Horvat, and he cost us a #1 NHL goalie! Yes, Benning has been the beneficiary of high draft picks, but he has also plucked some late round pearls already. Gillis also had nothing to do with the Canucks having Burrows or Edler. Or the Sedins, Kesler, Luongo, Salo, Hansen, or Bieksa.In other words, the beating heart of that team was assembled by Burke and Nonis before Gillis arrived. He made a couple of minor depth trades and got lucky with Erhoff when San Jose ran into cap problems, but I think the proof of how his GM acumen is widely perceived around the league is the fact that despite those 2 great seasons, he’s yet to be offered another NHL job. His revisionist history job on 1040 the other day was laughable.

      • Fred-65

        , Tanev and Edler are still our #1 D pairing, Horvat is our future captain, etc

        Exactly while some can’t get over the personality of Gillis they fail to recognize some very pertinent facts ( add buying Utica a long thorn in the side of the Canucks ) and attempting to make the Canucks a destination of choice by the primarily eastern players dominated league. He was and is a Prof in law and certainly prefers facts to soft soap and frankly I don’t think suffers fools lightly. But he was certainly refreshing when it came to facts, truth rather than the Vaseline approach used by most GM’s

  • El Kabong

    When you re-cap the Comets game could you add in a stat line of who got what points. I know if you read through the whole article you write who the the goal scorers and who the assists went to but a little point summary would be awesome.

  • Fred-65

    I was interested in you write up on Dahlen. I’m starting to wonder after all the praise and build up/promotion about this youngster if maybe Ottawa’s read on him was more sensible. Are we expecting every hit to be a home run, it that reasonable or in fact responsible by management. Fans can drea but management has to be practicle and truthful …. mostly to themselves