FORT WAYNE – If the Komets want to make the playoffs, they may have to solve the problem of the Kalamazoo Wings.
The Komets’ 3-4-3 record against the Wings doesn’t look bad, but they have lost to Kalamazoo three times in overtime instead of shootouts as the Wings have taken 14 of a possible 20 points in games against Fort Wayne.
That has given the Wings (32-18-5) a six-point lead on the Komets (26-18-11) in the North Division. Kalamazoo is first, and Fort Wayne is third.
But that’s inconsequential, since playoff berths are determined by conference standings. The top eight teams will make it, and Fort Wayne is tied for seventh in the Eastern Conference with 17 games left. Tenth-place Evansville is only three points back of the Komets.
The Komets and the Wings play four more times, beginning with games today and Sunday at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich.
The good news for the Komets is that they are more successful on the road. They are 9-8-9 at Memorial Coliseum and 17-10-2 away from it. But that hasn’t held true against Kalamazoo; the Komets are 1-3-1 at Wings Stadium.
One thing the Komets must improve upon is their power play, which ranks 19th out of the ECHL’s 21 teams with an efficiency of 13.3 percent. The Komets are 2 for 36 against the Wings.
On our power play, we want to be a team that if the other team takes a penalty against us, they know we’ll be in their end for two full minutes and get a lot of (scoring) chances, Komets captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said.
The Wings have had similar power-play struggles against the Komets, failing to score on their first 27 opportunities with the man-advantage. The Wings solved that and have four goals in their last 10 power plays against Fort Wayne. The Wings rank ninth and have scored on 16.2 percent of their power plays.
On our special teams, we need to be more physical, Schrock said. We are getting down to the playoff run right now. We’re highly skilled when we play physical. When we don’t, we get beat. We’re not taking the body enough.
Brandon Marino has two goals and nine points in 10 games against the Wings. Mike Embach has two goals and seven points in nine games since getting traded to the Komets.
The Wings’ David Pacan has three goals and 10 points in 10 games against Fort Wayne, while Matt Caria has three goals and nine points in 10 games.