Utica Comets Pre-Game
Vs Rochester Americans
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific
It will be another battle of the North today as the division’s second-ranked Rochester Americans, (Buffalo affiliate) will be in Utica today to take on the fourth-ranked Comets for game number 57 of the season. The Amerks bring a record of 33-17-3-2 into today’s contest, giving them 71 points on the season. The Comets, for their part, have gone 29-20-5-2 this year to give themselves 65 points.
The Rochester power play is ranked fifth overall in the AHL after scoring 45 goals on 209 man-up opportunities, giving them a success rate of 21.5%. Their penalty kill sits seventh in the league after giving up 38 goals while shorthanded 226 times for a success rate of 83.2%.
The Comets power play is ranked 10th in the league after scoring 49 goals while up a man 247 times for a 19.8% success rate. Their penalty kill just keeps dropping, now sitting 20th in the AHL after giving up 44 goals while down a man 226 times for an 80.5% success rate.
The Comets need to stay out of the box, and if they can’t, they sure better whip that PK into shape in a hurry.
Victor Olofsson leads all Rochester skaters with 20 goals and 26 helpers, giving him 46 points in 52 games this season. Zach Redmond sits second with 21 goals and 24 assists to give himself 45 points in 41 games. CJ Smith rounds out their top three with 18 goals and 24 assists, giving him 42 points in 42 games.
Rasmus Asplund is the Amerks rookie leader with three goals and 17 helpers, giving him 20 points in 55 games. With the recent trade of Jonathan Dahlen, Lukas Jasek slides into the rookie lead for the Comets with eight goals and 12 assists to give himself 20 points in 43 games this year.
Reid Boucher is still the top dog in Utica with 24 goals and 26 assists to give himself 50 points in 44 games. Tanner Kero sits second with 21 goals and 27 helpers, giving him 48 points in 53 games this season. Zack MacEwen has returned from his NHL debut with Vancouver and is back sitting third in Comets scoring with 17 goals and 25 assists, giving him 42 points in 49 games this year.
The Amerks last played to a 5-3 loss to the Belleville Senators, while the Comets are coming off of a 4-1 loss to the Binghamton Devils. Utica has gone 6-2-2-0 over their previous 10 games, while Rochester shows a record of 5-4-0-1 over that same span. The Amerks have gone 16-6-3-1 on the road this season, while the Comets have a home record of 16-10-2-0.
It’s a tale of two teams when it comes to goal differential this season. The Amerks have outscored their competition by a count of 181-159, while the Comets have been outscored by a 191-181 margin this season.
Comets Scratched Last Game
- Richard Bachman: G, out for the season, Achilles’ injury.
- Olli Juolevi: LD, out for the season, knee surgery.
- Dylan Blujus: RD, week-to-week, hand injury.
- Jonah Gadjovich: W, day-to-day, upper body injury.
- Tanner Kero: C, day-to-day, lower body injury.
- Jonathan Dahlen: LW, day-to-day, sick.
- Kole Lind: W, day-to-day, sick.
- Brendan Woods: C, day-to-day, sick.
Comets Roster News
The NHL trade deadline was this week, and as such, we saw some moves made by the Canucks/Comets. We know that defenders Ashton Sautner and Luke Schenn were already up with the big club, as were forwards Adam Gaudette and Zack MacEwen. Goaltender Marek Mazanec was also up with the Canucks.
In order for those players to be eligible to play for the Comets down the stretch and into the playoffs, they would have to be “papered” down to the Comets. The Canucks did that with a few of the above players, but defenceman Luke Schenn, forward Adam Gaudette, and goaltender Thatcher Demko will not be seen back in Utica this year outside of a conditioning stint if one is needed.
That means that Ashton Sautner and Zack MacEwen will be available, as will Marek Mazanec. It is a bit of a blow to the Comets back end to lose Schenn as he seemed to really bring a calming presence to the Comets blueline. Having Gaudette available would have been nice as well, but such is the life for an AHL squad.
Part of the reasoning behind not papering Schenn and Gaudette down might have to do with the fact that a team can only use four recalls after the deadline. The Canucks have already used one of those by calling Sautner right back up. We found out yesterday that they were using another on Guillaume Brisebois, who has also been summoned back up to the big club as well. That will only leave the club with two more call ups that are not of the “emergency recall” variety.
I think that the addition of Schenn allowed the Canucks to feel comfortable with trading Erik Gudbranson to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Tanner Pearson.
The Canucks can carry as many bodies as they’d like after the trade deadline, as there is no longer a roster limit outside of cap space. That means that the club can only reward/get a look at two more players the rest of the way. We have heard Jim Benning mention Chatfield as a player they’d like to take a look at this year, so if that still holds true, it leaves just one spot. Would they like to give TheBigFella another look? I hope so.
All of this is to say that the Comets will need to play without three of their top defenceman for the foreseeable future, not to mention that Olli Juolevi has been out of action since game 19 of the season. It’s been a tough go on the backend in Utica this season.
With all of these moves, the Comets have also had to make adjustments. Defenceman Brandon Anselmini has been summoned from the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL, while fellow defender, Jake Linhart has been signed to a PTO, (professional tryout offer).
Anselmini was signed to an AHL deal this offseason by the Comets for just this purpose. The left-shot defender has played in 45 games for the Wings, picking up three goals and 21 helpers to give himself 24 points on the season. If he does see action with the Comets, it will be his first with the team.
As for Linhart, the 23-year-old, right-shot defenceman from Brookfield Wisconsin stands five-feet-11 inches tall and tips the scales at 185lbs, according to EliteProspects. He is in his first year of pro hockey after spending four seasons with the University of Wisconsin where he put up 60 points in 142 games.
This season, he has been plying his trade with the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL where he has been able to pick up four goals and 17 helpers to give himself 21 points in 46 games. Linhart also spent five games with the Hershey Bears in the AHL this season, picking up one assist along the way.
Another move that the parent club made was dispatching Jonathan Dahlen to the San Jose Sharks for 19-year-old pivot Linus Karlsson. Karlsson is currently playing in Sweden and my guess is that he will remain there for at least one more season before making the trip across the pond to try his luck at the North American pro game.
There have been some conflicting reports about the Dahlen situation. We have heard that his agent asked for a trade and that Dahlen thought he was ready for NHL games. We have also heard Dahlen suggest that he did not ask for a trade and that he knows that he needs more work before making the step to the NHL. My guess is that the truth of the matter lies somewhere in between.
It is clear that there was frustration on the part of Dahlen and his agent with the way he was being used in the lineup/opportunities that he was given. Whether this was the team giving up on the player, or the player giving up on the team, I think it was too soon. I could see Dahlen making strides with his game this season, there has been an improvement in his “200-foot” game. Somewhere along the line, either the team or the player lost patience and I think that is a shame.
Will Jonathan Dahlen ever be the NHL player that Vancouver fans envisioned when he was acquired? That remains to be seen, but I wish him all the best with his career going forward.
These two clubs have battled eight times already this season with the Amerks showing a five-games-to-three advantage. One of those Rochester wins came in overtime, while another came via the shootout. The Amerks have also outscored the Comets by a 29-22 margin over those eight games.
The Rochester special teams have also had the advantage in this series. Their power play has gone 12/33, giving them a success rate of 36.4%, while their penalty kill has allowed six goals in the series while down a man 35 times for an 82.9% success rate.
The Comets power play has operated at 17.1% in the series, while their PK shows a success rate of 63.6%. Yeah, the Comets might want to stay out of the penalty box today.
Victor Olofsson leads this series with 11 points, while Reid Boucher sits second with nine. Wayne Simpson has picked up eight points against the Comets this year, while Zack MacEwen, Zach Redmond, and CJ Smith have all managed seven points in the series. Danny O’Regan, Rasmus Asplund, and Lawrence Pilut have each put up six points and Tanner Kero has five in the series.
The Amerks have used all of Scott Wedgewood, Jonas Johansson, and Adam Wilcox in this series, while the Comets have used Michael Leighton, Ivan Kulbakov, Thatcher Demko, and Richard Bachman.
Wedgewood has the best numbers for the Amerks, going 3-0 while posting a goals-against average of 1.33 and a save percentage of 0.938%. For the Comets, Leighton has the best numbers in the series, going 1-0 and posting a 2.01 goals-against and a 0.926% save percentage.
The two clubs will get underway today in Utica at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific. As always, stay tuned for the CanucksArmy post-game report following the game.