The Utica Comets enter today’s game with a record of 28-28-3-4 (63 points). They are currently third in the North Division and eleventh in the Western Conference. In their last 10 games they have gone 6-4-0-0 (12 points).
Remember when the Comets started the season off by not earning a win in their first 10 games? I’m sure the Comets don’t because they’ve vaulted themselves up from the cellar of the Conference and into shouting distance of a playoff spot. It would take plenty of stumbling from others, plenty of wins on their part, but the AHL can be a theater of the absurd – why not? And that’s precisely why they make a deadly opponent to match up with.
When the Admirals met the Comets in February it was one of the worst performances from the Ads all season. Miikka Salomaki was given a match penalty for boarding Peter Andersson. The offense failed to get a grip of the game following the Salomaki dismissal. And the Comets shutout the Admirals at home 3-0.
By now, I’m sure that game is a distant memory in the eyes of the Admirals. And, if it was for you as well, sorry to be a downer by reminding you of that clunker.
To go back to the home/away stats like yesterday, it is pretty fascinating to see just how poor the Comets have been in Utica versus playing on the road.
The Comets road record is above .500 with a 17-13-2-1 (37 points). Yet, at home this season they are 11-15-1-3 (26 points), have a goal differential of -15 (73 GF, 88 GA), and the twenty-sixth ranked penalty kill at 79.4%.
Pascal Pelletier leads the Comets in scoring with 50 points (13 goals, 37 assists). The 30-year old veteran has 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in the month of March – including points in his last 2 games: 1 goal, 1 assist.
Their second placed scorer, Benn Ferriero, leads the team in goals. He has 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists). He hasn’t played since 3/7/14 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Including that game, he has only scored 3 goals from his last 13 games.
Former-Admiral Cal O’Reilly sadly didn’t take part in the first meeting this season between the Ads and Comets. He missed that contest due to an upper body injury. He has since returned to the shuffle – and now has played in 39 games with Utica.
In limited work O’Reilly has produced the team’s second best points per game total, trailing only Pelletier, with 0.85 Pt/G: 33 points (3 goals, 30 assists). His month of March has been brilliant as well: 9 assists in 8 games. He’s the cog I’d like to see the Admirals shutdown in this one.
Joacim Eriksson started in net against the Admirals back in February. This season he has team highs in all major goaltending categories for the Comets: 43 games played, 20 wins, 2.56 GAA, and a 0.915 SV%.
His battery-mate, Joe Cannata, has logged 23 games this season while winning 8 contests, picking up a 2.92 GAA, and 0.902 SV%. He has won his last two games in net – including yesterday’s 2-1 win in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
I’d love to see yesterday’s winning netminders square off today. Though, it is anyone’s guess who Dean Evason will roll with: Marek Mazanec or Scott Darling. Who would you chose for the last of this weekend’s three-in-three?
It should also be all-hands on deck today as far as the Admirals roster is concerned. Yesterday the team went with seven defensemen by giving Michael Young his AHL debut and healthy scratching Zach Budish. Sadly, Young took a knock in the middle of the game – and probably will not take part in today’s game. Expect Budish in – and a stretched Admirals lineup that could even need a helper from Cincinnati by Wednesday’s game in Rochester.
Thoughts on today’s game? Can the Admirals pull off the double at the end of this three-in-three? Do the Admirals need the security of an extra body in camp from the Cincinnati Cyclones?