Komets see future: It’s not pretty
Marco Roy said it would be good for the Komets to “reset” during the All-Star break, with his team riding a four-game winless streak and its top two scorers, Justin Hodgman and Jake Kamrass, sitting out with injuries.
When the Komets get back at it at 7:30 p.m. today against the Indy Fuel in Indianapolis, they will have to play a less pretty game than usual if they want to win.
Though Hodgman was able to play through a hand injury to score two goals at Monday’s All-Star Classic in Toledo, Komets general manager David Franke said it will be at least two weeks before he’s able to participate in a full-contact game. Franke stressed that playing in the All-Star Classic didn’t make it worse; the Komets just want to give Hodgman time to heal.
Kamrass has an upper-body injury. The Komets will also be without Matthew Weis, who was recalled by Chicago of the American Hockey League after he totaled two goals and seven points in six games.
In the Komets’ last game, a 3-2 loss to the Toledo Walleye in an overtime shootout Sunday, they looked to have too many shooters and not enough passers, not surprising considering Hodgman and Kamrass have accounted for 48 of their assists, but that is a trend that can’t continue moving forward.
The Komets were outshot 25-14 in the first two periods Sunday, but in the third period they had 20 of the 30 shots and two of the three goals. Justin Kea had the only shootout goal, though, to cinch the victory for the Walleye.
“If we can play the way we did in the back half of that game for 60 minutes, we’ve got a chance of winning every game,” Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said.
So what was the difference? The Komets stopped looking for the pretty plays.
“It’s skating and moving the puck, supporting each other,” Graham said. “There are a lot of little things that go into it. But if you’re playing a tight checking team like Toledo that’s up in your face, you’ve got to be willing to play chip-and-chase, dump-and-chase hockey. I know it’s not pretty, but if that’s the only thing open, then you’ve got to be willing to do it and willing to work.”
The Komets (21-16-3) are clinging to a two-point lead over Indy (20-18-3) for third place in the Central Division. Wheeling (20-18-2), the Komets’ opponent Sunday, is three points back.
“We’ve been though roster changes, had guys in and guys out, but (from Jan. 3-12) we were able to go through a little five-game winning run there,” Komets defenseman Cody Sol said. “It’s tough to go on a slide again, but it shows how good and how tough our division is.”
The Komets recognize, though, that pretty hockey isn’t going to get them through the short-term, at least not without some of their top guns.
“All the guys here have some positives to bring to the table every game,” Roy said. “But yeah, we’re missing some good players, for sure, so everyone has to contribute and work harder.”