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Slow starts for K’s must go

November 18, 2018

TOLEDO, Ohio : I knew. You knew. And you can bet that Toledo knew.

The Komets are slow starters.

It showed tonight.

“We talked about getting off to a quick start,” Toledo coach Dan Watson said, after his Walleye handed the Komets a 2-1 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 8,300 at the Huntington Center.

“We saw what Cincinnati did (Friday) night to Fort Wayne and we wanted to make sure we got lots of shots early on and applied some pressure, got them back on their heels as we’re on our toes. We should have been the more energetic team early on, which we were, so I guess that quick start was something that we wanted to accomplish.”

On Friday, in Cincinnati’s 4-1 victory over the Komets, the Cyclones scored the only three goals of the first period and outshot the Komets 11-4. Tonight, the Walleye scored the only two goals of the first period and outshot the Komets 15-4.

Hmm, that sounds similar.

“The slow starts are our Achilles’ heel,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “You’d have to ask them in that locker room what the deal is. It’s a common problem for us and it’s an uphill battle and it’s not a good recipe for long-term success, that’s for sure.”

I did ask the players what the deal was.

Captain Jamie Schaafsma said this: “We’ve got to find a way to come out with some jump and get that first goal. We’ve got to concentrate on really putting the focus on getting that first goal and putting them on their heels. That’s something that we should try to do.”

The Komets are 0-3-0 against the Walleye this season. But the positive is the Komets are clearly better now than they were in the previous two meetings with Toledo. Considering they were still minus Marco Roy, that’s something, and the team is headed in the right direction. It’s just they can’t play Rapid City all the time.

I think there are still some personnel issues that need to be hammered out : I think the Komets remain a forward and a defenseman away : and it’s going to be interesting to see how the goaltending situation plays out because right now Lukas Hafner is outplaying Zach Fucale. But the latter is the NHL-contracted goalie and that means he’s going to get more playing time and I have to believe his numbers will improve. And let’s not forget, Fucale hasn’t gotten enough help in front of the net : especially in the first periods of games.

“There’s a major focus problem with the locker room. We’re talking about it. We’re aware of it. Tonight, it happened again,” Graham said. “You can talk all you want. But the 18 guys on the ice, they’ve got to put the action into place. Every time, it’s a bad first period, a good second period and then sometimes it’s a coin flip in the third.”

The Komets are 5-8-0. But within the division, they are 3-7-0. When you’re in maybe the toughest division in the entire league, well, that’s got to improve.

jcohn@jg.net

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