Storyline No. 2: The Utica Comets Struggling
Maybe placing third in the AHL North Division with 53 points in 47 games doesn’t exactly spell out a struggle for the Utica Comets, the AHL Affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, but the Comets are not meeting expectations.
Can anyone think of three factors that have resulted in this slumping season?
Right. I am sorry that some of us are not on the Comets Bandwagon that flared during the Calder Cup Playoffs last year.
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First off, the Canucks had to call up boatloads of their top players. That list includes Andrey Pedan, Taylor Fedun, Richard Bachman, and many more. Although the circumstances have turned around and the Canucks are giving veterans to the Comets, the struggle to date has got to be a result of missing their top players. Prime example — their captain Alex Biega just got signed by the Canucks.
Secondly, the Comets had their own injury struggles. Fedun had a major injury, all-star Hunter Shinkaruk had his injury, and Darren Archibald has had his setbacks. That has resulted in the Comets handing out PTO contracts for roster-filling purposes. Without a steady lineup, one can’t expect the Comets to form chemistry and win.
Lastly, the goaltending took a major hit when Jacob Markstrom was taken by Vancouver. Last season, both Markstrom and third-string netminder Joe Cannata put up save percentages over .930. This season, Bachman has struggled (.899 save percentage) and pushed Cannata to share duties with him with not much success (.908 save percentage).
AHL netminding might be one of the things on Trader Jim’s bucket lists this trade deadline.
Next: Storyline No. 3: Re-signing the Trio