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Komets need urgency as season winds down

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For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

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Komets at Cincinnati
Face-off: 7:35 p.m. Tuesday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM

Next week will be critical to determining status

Monday, February 11, 2013 - 12:44 am

The Fort Wayne Komets don't have much time to pout.

After getting blown out 6-1 by Colorado on the road Saturday night, attempting a season-low 14 shots on goal, the Komets came home Sunday facing a bunch of questions before Tuesday's key road game at Cincinnati.

Who's going to back up Charlie Effinger in the Fort Wayne goal?

Marco Cousineau was recalled to Norfolk of the American Hockey League after Friday's game, meaning the Komets had to sign Colorado State product Jon Miller as an emergency back-up for Saturday's game. Cousineau didn't play in Norfolk's game Saturday, and Kenny Reiter is still with Bridgeport of the AHL as well.

Reiter hasn't played either, but that's because of the winter storm Nemo which postponed games. So far this season, Reiter has had a pair of great trips to Bridgeport. He suffered through Hurricane Sandy during the first one and now a blizzard in the second.

Will Brent Henley miss Tuesday's game because of a suspension?

Henley was given a misconduct penalty for abuse of official with 6:10 remaining in Saturday's game. That infraction will automatically be reviewed by the ECHL. It could also be Henley's second such offense this season.

If Henley can't play, what will the Komets do for a defenseman?

Because of Scott Kishel's sore hand, the Komets were already skating a man short on the blueline, but they'll be adding newly signed Jamie Milam who's ready to play after coming back from Poland last week. Maybe Kishel will be ready to go, too.

Where's the offense been?

It's been coming off the stick of Thomas Beauregard who has four goals and five points in his last six games. The odd thing is when Beauregard has been scoring his goals. When the Komets scored six on Friday against Colorado and when they scored seven against Cincinnati on Feb. 2, he was held without a goal. The four goals have come when the Komets have scored two, one, one and one goals, losing three of those four games.

Don't try to figure it out other than to say Beauregard needs some help from somebody.

Will the Komets ever figure out their special teams?

They also better hope Milam is the answer because if not they might be out of options. Their power play has been continually getting worse, scoring only six goals in its last 71 chances. The penalty kill has been almost as bad, giving up 28 goals in the last 26 games. The Komets have the second-worst power play in the ECHL, and the 18th-ranked penalty kill out of 23 teams.

How do the standings look?

How's not awful? Cincinnati won two games in South Carolina this weekend to pull eight points up on the Komets in the ECHL's North Division, but Toledo lost at South Carolina to stay four points up.

The Komets and Cyclones have 22 games remaining, the Walleye 23. The Komets play four of their next six games against those two teams so the next two weeks are very important.

Isn't there anything positive?

Well, the Komets have lost two regulation games in a row on the road only once this season, and they haven't done it since Nov. 23. They play four of their next six away from home where they are still 15-9-2.

Another thing is forward Mike Hoban should be ready to re-join the lineup after missing several games with a shoulder injury.

Other than that, the travel schedule really is very easy from here with only a long two-game trip to South Carolina and a two-game trip to Elmira remaining. The other six road games are to Evansville, Kalamazoo, Cincinnati and Toledo.

Any other words of wisdom?

The Komets haven't won or lost more than two games in a row since Nov. 17, but they are still a threat to either win the division or finish last. Every game from here should be treated as the biggest of the season.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Blake Sebring at bsebring@news-sentinel.com .