Nicklas Jensen was a healthy scratch in the Utica Comets 2-1 loss to the Toronto Marlies on Sunday afternoon.
The 29th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has registered only 11 goals and 11 assists in 44 games with the Comets this season. Jensen owns a team-worst -14 plus/minus rating despite the Comets having a +15 goal differential on the year. The Danish-born right-winger finds himself with just 3 goals in his last 27 games and has converted on 8.7% of his 127 shots on goal (an average of 2.88 SOG per game).
With the Comets welcoming an extra body in the form of Sven Baertschi at the NHL trade deadline, coach Travis Green elected to insert heart-and-soul player Carter Bancks back into the lineup to reunite the checking line of Brendan Gaunce, Mike Zalewski and Bancks.
There was some speculation that Jensen may have been scratched because of a potential call-up to the big club as Chris Higgins and Nick Bonino were both absent from the Canucks practice today. Although not fully confirmed, The Province's Patrick Johnston tweeted out that Jensen isn't boarding a plane to Vancouver.
Word from rink is Jensen not scheduled to join Canucks, FWIW— Patrick Johnston (@risingaction) March 8, 2015
Jensen has battled inconsistency at the American Hockey League level ever since he scored 4 goals in his first 6 career AHL games back in the 2011-12 season when the Canucks were affiliated with the Chicago Wolves. In 121 AHL games, Jensen has only tallied 51 points (32-19-51), producing at 0.42 points per game. In junior with the Oshawa Generals, Jensen recorded 116 points in 118 games, not exactly dominating statistics you'd expect from a first round draft pick. In six pre-season games this year, he had 4 points and 12 shots on goal with an even rating before being sent down to Utica. Canucks management has been patient with the 6-foot-3, 205 pounder Jensen. Benning has praised Jensen's game in the past, but his lack of production in the AHL makes you wonder if Jensen is will ever find a full-time position with the Canucks. Jensen has zero points in 5 games this season with the Canucks.
*Data courtesy of WarOnIce.com
Comets Split Weekend Games
3-2 Win over the Hamilton Bulldogs
The Comets were victorious on Saturday night topping the Hamilton Bulldogs. Sven Baertschi picked up two assists after notching his first assist as a Comet on Wednesday's game to give him three assists in two games since being acquired from the Flames organization. Cal O'Reilly (7-33-40), Will Acton (12-9-21) and Alex Friesen (7-11-18) all tallied for the Comets in their 34th win of the season. Joacim Eriksson turned aside 21 shots for his 17th victory of the season. The Comets opened the scoring at 8:22 of the first period when Baetschi gobbled up a rebound from an Alex Biega point shot and found O'Reilly for a backdoor pass to give the Comets' captain his 7th goal of the season. The Bulldogs tied the game :18 seconds into the 2nd period when T.J. Hensick fed Eric Tangradi on a 2-on-1 to beat a stretched-out Erikkson. Charles Hudon temporarily gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead as he blasted one past the Comets goaltender after a glorious pass from Sven Andrighetto. Brandon DeFazio (18-19-37) and Baertschi passed it back-and-forth before Baertschi set up Will Acton in front with a back-hand pass for Acton's 12th of season. Alex Friesen scored the game-winning goal after he blasted through the Bulldogs defense and trickled his 7th goal of the year through the legs Bulldogs goaltender Mike Condon. Andrey Pedan (3-14-17) and Eriksson (his second helper this season) drew the assists on the play. The Comets outshot the Bulldogs 26-23. Baertschi would finish the game with a +3 rating and had zero shots on goal. The highlights of Baertschi's playmaking ability can be seen in the video below.
2-1 Loss against the Toronto Marlies
The Comets outshot the Marlies 17-7 in the 3rd period, but they couldn't solve Marlies goaltender Christopher Gibson in the final frame on Sunday afternoon at the Richoh Coliseum. Sven Baertschi continued his hot-streak by scoring his first goal in a Comets jersey; Baertschi now has 4 points (1-3-4) in his first three games since being acquired from the Calgary Flames organization. Baertschi's bumped his cumulative point total between Utica and Adirondack to 29 points (9-20-9) in 39 games played. Joacim Erikkson surrendered both of the Marlies scored in the first period as Byron Froese and Matt Frattin found their way on the scoresheets. The Comets only goal of the game came on the power-play when Alexandre Grenier (11-19-30) set up Baertschi for a nice tap-in across the crease to split the Marlies lead in half at 17:52 of the 2nd period. Cal O'Reilly (7-34-41) picked up secondary assist on the Baertschi PP goal. Eriksson finished with 25 saves and was named second-star of the game. Alex Biega finished with a team-high of 6 shots on goal and a -2 rating. The Comets outshot the Marlies 35-27. Baertschi's goal can be seen at the 2:43 mark in the video below.
The Comets will look to bounce back on Wednesday when they play the Chicago Wolves at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. The Comets currently hold a 34-19-5-1 record on the season with 9 point cushion over the Hamilton Bulldogs in the North division in the AHL Western Conference. Utica is 5-5-0-0 in their last 10 games played.
Utica coach Travis Green tells me Nicklas Jensen needs to bring more, that's why he was healthy scratch yesterday. #Canucks
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) March 9, 2015
Green : "We have 13 healthy forwards, someone has to sit. Hoping this jump starts Nicklas." #Canucks
— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) March 9, 2015
Utica coach Travis Green tells me Nicklas Jensen needs to bring more, that's why he was healthy scratch yesterday. #Canucks— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) March 9, 2015
Green : "We have 13 healthy forwards, someone has to sit. Hoping this jump starts Nicklas." #Canucks— News1130 Sports (@News1130Sports) March 9, 2015