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Komets seeking to jump-start poor power play


– When the Komets get back from the three-day All-Star break – they will be back on the ice for practice today – they need to figure out what’s wrong with their power play.

It ranks 14th among the ECHL’s 22 teams with an efficiency of 14 percent, and it has been particularly poor lately.

The Komets are scoreless in their last 14 power-play opportunities over five games. They have scored once in their last 23 power plays over seven games.

The Komets have been offensively challenged in general lately – they have been outscored 15-19 and gone 2-2-3 over their last seven games – but it has been magnified when they have the man-advantage.

“We’ve really got to figure out a way to score more on the power play,” Komets defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin said. “We need to generate more offense. We’re getting chances, but we’re not bearing down, and those are huge opportunities.”

This is, in part, the reason the Komets have brought former player Konstantin Shafranov on to the coaching staff to work primarily with forwards, though he will not be on the bench during games.

Shafranov, who played in six seasons with the Komets between 1995 and 2010, skated in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and the Olympics with Kazakhstan.

“Konstantin Shafranov is one of the most accomplished Komets of all time,” general manager David Franke said. “ … His knowledge of the game, experience and skill set will be invaluable to our players."

The Komets’ offense has not been helped by all the personnel changes, including nine trades between Nov. 11 and Jan. 6, which has prevented continuity on special teams.

But the Komets still believe they should be burying their chances instead of being too fancy around the net.

“The power play has got to be our main focus,” said Danis-Pepin, whose Komets (15-13-8) play Friday at Elmira, N.Y., against the Jackals (12-19-4).

It’s the second of four straight games, and five of six, between Fort Wayne and Elmira. The Jackals won 5-3 at Memorial Coliseum last Friday.

“Our penalty kill is doing great,” said Danis-Pepin, whose team has stopped 87.9 percent of opposing power plays, second only to Greenville (89.9 percent). “We’re doing good and working hard there. But we’ve got to do more on the power play.”

Brandon Marino leads the Komets with four power-play goals – he leads the ECHL with 43 points – and Jace Coyle has a team-leading seven assists on power plays, though he’s currently with Lake Erie of the higher-level American Hockey League.

“We’ve just got to bury the chances,” Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said. “We have to do a better job of creating shooting lanes. I think we’re getting a little gun shy to just shoot because we see a shot blocker there, but we’ve got to do a better job with lateral footwork, of east and west, of creating shooting lanes for ourselves.

“We can work on our movement on the power play and do a better job of deception. Sometimes a little shot fake will freeze a guy and you get inside a shooting lane. We’re being a little bit too predictable right now.”