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Nicklas Jensen Scratched In Utica

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Canucks 2011 1st round draft pick Nicklas Jensen was scratched in the Comets Sunday game versus the Toronto Marlies.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

Jensen's only true real flash of promise he's shown was when rode shotgun on the Sedin's line late last year scoring 3 goals and adding 1 assist in a four-game stretch. He was goalless in the other 14 games he dressed in. Jensen's possession numbers are actually quite surprising in a positive way. His career 55.9 CF% indicates that he is more than capable of playing at the NHL level without having a negative impact shot attempts directed at the Canucks net. According to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, Jensen's 5v5 CF% without Henrik Sedin is 50.9% (149:54 TOI) and is 51.5% (84:37 TOI) without Daniel Sedin. His 3.4% career CorsiRel is a representation that Jensen's teammates are benefiting from playing with Jensen when he's on the ice with them. He sports a 49.4 CF% and a 0.1 CorsiRel% in his brief stint in Vancouver this season.

*Data courtesy of WarOnIce.com

Jensen is most effective when he's generating chances off the rush using his excellent speed for a player of his size. He presents a strong ability to protect the puck on his off-wing as a left-handed shot and is a quick transitional player. Jensen posses a quick release that can catch goaltenders off guard. If Jensen can fill out his somewhat of a lanky frame, then there's no reason as to why he can't be a defensively responsible middle-six forward. His versatility to play either wing could aid him in the future for a potential roster spot.







Jensen still may need more time to develop at the minor-league levell, but his healthy scratch is discouraging for Canucks fans to see. Nikita Kucherov, Johnny Gaudreau, Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, Tomas Jurco, Boone Jenner, Ondrej Palat, Matt Nieto, Dmitrij Jaskin, Viktor Rask, Markus Grandlund, Rickard Rakell, Adam Lowry and Vincet Trochek were all picked after Jensen and have all found success playing at the NHL level. Although looking at players who should've been picked instead of Jensen in hindsight is unfair, it definitely makes Canucks fans wonder if picking Jensen at 29th overall in the 2011 was the right decision. If Jensen doesn't start producing at a higher rate in Utica, then Canucks fans won't hesitate to label Jensen as a bust. Jensen has one year remaining on his entry-level contract.

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.

UPDATE: