There's been a big difference in the Fort Wayne Komets' power play during the last three games. It's actually had some power.
This could be because of some earth-rattling changes, but they've actually been subtle. The power play has been so bad, it's almost like the players on the unit reached the point where it was hopeless so they decided to just go out and have some fun. Suddenly, things clicked and the puck started going into the net.
After a hot start, scoring on eight of their first 30 attempts in the first 10 games, the Komets' effectiveness died, scoring on only five of their next 73 attempts. The ineptness was pitiful as the Komets struggled to get the puck into the zone and set up, and then they rarely got quality shots on net. No one wanted to handle the puck, and fewer players wanted to shoot.
Because the Komets had played so many one-goal decisions, two power-play goals a week might have meant four points and a much stronger start. Instead, things kept getting worse and the pressure increased.
But this week, things started working. The Komets scored four times in eight attempts over the three games.
``It's not going to be pretty, it's going to be pretty simple and just hard work is going to turn the tide for our lack of productivity right now,'' defenseman Tyler Butler said. ``It was nice to have a couple go in. If we can get a couple more to go in, then things will start clicking and then you can start making some plays off of that. We just try and do what we can. If there was an easy button we'd press it.''
Besides more practice, Komets coach Al Sims decided to try some different players on the points. Eric Giosa has made a big difference.
``I love it,'' Giosa said from his new vantage. ``I like to be able to see the ice. I'm enjoying it and I'm adjusting to it. I'm talking to some of the other D-men about running the blue line. I understand I have to be safe with the puck and calculated but also be able to make skilled plays at the right time. It's a challenge I definitely enjoy.''
Putting forwards on the points usually means the team is more susceptible to short-handed goals, but it also might mean the Komets are more dangerous at the other end.
Maybe the changes have also allowed the forwards to use their blue line shooters more. Because the points were reluctant to shoot, defenses were falling back, putting more stress on the forwards who had less room to shoot.
The biggest difference is all about outworking the penalty killers. During their slump, the Komets were continually getting out-hustled and outmuscled when going after the puck.
``We just need to find a way,'' forward Thomas Beauregard said. ``The bottom line is we have to work. We're all good players, and we've played on the power play before so we should know what to do. Right now, it's going well and we know what we have to do.''
Which has led to more success which leads to more confidence. They have to put the physical work in to win the mental game. They were getting killed on the mental side because they weren't outworking the defenders.
``It's confidence, but it's more fun now,'' Beauregard said. ``Now it's a boost for our team, and we know we can score goals.''
If they can maintain this recent success, the next thing to work on is staying out of the penalty box and cutting down on their opponents' power-play chances. The Komets have had 111 power-play chances, while their opponents have had 166.
``Just top to bottom, we've been trying to change and stay out of the box,'' Giosa said. ``We've been taking far too many penalties. No matter what kind of team you are, you're not going to win that way. We've been trying to establish a constant in the locker room and work hard.''