Every day after a game, the Fort Wayne Komets would come off the ice after practice and head into a team meeting to watch video.
``It was like a bunch of students coming into class,'' assistant coach Gary Graham said. ``Every day the guys got sick of it, but it was effective.''
Komets coach Al Sims said the Komets always got NHL-quality scouting reports during the playoffs using things he learned coaching the San Jose Sharks. Graham could watch hockey 24 hours a day, and part of his job was to break down the tape after games and then use it to direct the players.
``Anytime we found something we could use to improve the team or counteract whatever a team was having success with, we were right on the button,'' Graham said. ``We were able to do it in all three series. Whatever they were having success with, we took it away from them.''
As an example, the key to the Presidents' Cup finals was the Komets' forwards going against Wichita's defensemen. The Komets wanted to use their speed down low to grind away until they could create good scoring chances.
``Video is obviously a big part,'' center Brett Smith said. ``You can look at what they are doing and you can get a feel for what you can do to counteract that. It gives you an idea of what to do in a given situation instead of trying to figure it out on the fly. We countered them with a lot of stuff.''
Graham said he watches about three hours of video each night to compile a 15-20 minute highlight video for the players.
``We're showing positive, negative and what we could possibly try the next game that might work,'' he said. ``What can we do to adjust? Every game was something different.''
For the clinching Game 5 against the Thunder, the Komets wanted to adjust their penalty kill to take away Wichita's ability to attack from along the goal line. The Thunder were held scoreless in four chances and rarely got a shot on goal on the power play.
``Gary did a hard-working job to show us exactly what we needed to do,'' forward Stephon Thorne said. ``If we did exactly what he said, it worked against this team.''
The only time it was a bit of a problem came in Game 1 at Wichita. Because the Komets had to leave almost immediately after winning Game 7 against Missouri in the conference finals, Graham had no time to prepare and the team bus did not have Internet access. The Komets still won the first game 5-3, but they were dominant in a 6-3 Game 2 win.
``For us, it was always about preparation,'' Graham said. ``Our guys were prepared for every game, and you could see that on the ice.''