K’s in search of ‘heartbeat’ after Game 2 loss

April 14, 2019

TOLEDO, Ohio : Coach Gary Graham had the best quote to sum up the Komets’ 6-0 loss today to the Toledo Walleye.

“You’ve got to find a heartbeat,” he said at the Huntington Center. “There was no heartbeat with this team tonight. I thought Toledo outclassed us in every aspect of the game. Once I cut up the video, I think I’ll be lucky if I find two scoring chances. It could have been the most anemic offensive output of the entire season.”

The Komets were outshot 43-23 by the Walleye, which has a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 Central Division semifinals, but it really wasn’t even that close. Zach Fucale made some great saves to keep the Komets in it.

And while the officiating was bad : Toledo scored on 4 of 7 power plays; Fort Wayne was 0 for 3 : nothing can excuse such a one-sided game in the playoffs.

(Video highlights are above.)

“If they’re going to take penalties like that, you have to convert,” Toledo coach Dan Watson said. “You have to make sure they pay for it, but that’s the name of this playoff series : you have teams that are rivals and know each other well, having played 11 times (in the regular season), and it’s going to be chippy, no doubt about it. You just have to make sure you manage it in a smart way; you don’t want to head to box short-handed.”

Say what you will about Fort Wayne’s roster, it’s loaded with offensive talent. Brady Shaw and Jake Kamrass are the only ones with goals in the series, but even they were contained today along with Shawn Szydlowski, Justin Hodgman, Marco Roy and J.C. Campagna.

“We’ve got some guys who are frankly invisible,” Graham said. “You look across the board and you’ve got guys who look like they’ve yet to show up in this hockey series. I think some guys have got to take some hard looks in the mirror because we’re going nowhere fast unless some of our better players start playing some better hockey.”

Captain Jamie Schaafsma added: “Right now, it looks like a lot of stuff. Tonight was a frustrating game for us: Our forecheck struggled, our penalty kill struggled, and obviously we took more penalties than we wanted. It was a very disappointing game for us. But it’s playoff time and we’ve got to put that game behind us. We’ve got to focus on Game 3 and on taking care of home ice.”

The Komets suffered their first shutout in the playoffs since the Jeff Lerg-led Walleye ousted them from the 2017 playoffs here. That was Pat Nagle’s final game in net for the Komets and he was on the other end of it today, stopping 23 shots for Toledo.

“We were moving our feet. We’re a dangerous team when we’re moving our feet,” Nagle said. ”(In Game 1), I thought they did a good job of holding us here and there : it was just a good checking game up and down : and tonight we were able to open it up, get pucks deep, get our feet moving and cause them to take some penalties. We were able to cash in on the power play.”

These can be tough games on goalies, too, when they don’t face many shots. Nagle didn’t face many and was good when he needed to be.

“I liked Pat’s game,” Watson said. “He’s come down here (from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League) and played extremely solid for us, like he has all year. You’re right, though, it is tough because he’s got to stay mentally into it, as much as physically engaged. You’ve got to stay mentally engaged, too, especially when we’re not giving up much in the middle of the ice. You have to control rebounds and stay dialed in and I thought Pat was excellent.”