The Fort Wayne Komets have less than a week to get ready for their biggest games of the season.
Heading into Friday and Saturday's home games against Florida, the Komets are tied for ninth in the ECHL's Eastern Conference, one spot out of playoff position. The Komets have 61 points in 60 games, Kalamazoo has 61 in 59 games and Florida holds the final playoff spot with 68 points in 59 games. South Carolina holds seventh with 69 points in 62 games.
There are 12 games remaining in the regular season, and the Komets might need points out of all of them because of the games in hand the other teams have. They also need to get on a hot streak.
In the simplest terms, ignoring all the other possibilities, here's what it comes down to for the Komets. If Florida goes 7-6 over its final 13 games (the Everblades are 5-4-1 over their last 10 games), the Komets need to go 10-1-1 or earn 21 points over their last 12 games to tie. The Komets are 3-6-1 over their last 10 games, but 2-0-1 over their last three.
The ECHL tiebreaker formula goes: 1. Regular-season wins, excluding shootout wins; 2. Goal differential; 3. Head-to-head points (it's complicated considering Komets won't play at Florida); 4. Winning percentage within the conference; 5. Goals for; 6. Goals against; and 7. Coin toss.
If the Komets lose one or both games this weekend, they are in an incredibly difficult situation.
After Saturday's 2-1 overtime decision in South Carolina, the Komets are undefeated in three games for the first time since Nov. 9 when they were in the midst of a 7-2-1 start.
Goaltender Jeff Deslauriers has carried them the last six games with a 1.61 goals-against average and.945 save percentage, going 3-1-1 in his last five. The Komets have scored only 2.36 goals per game over their last 25 games since Jan. 4. They are 11-13-1 over that stretch, including 7-1 when they score three or more goals.
The Komets also brought back some help from the South as defensemen Schaus and Gabe Guentzel returned with the team after being sent to the Komets from Norfolk of the American Hockey League on Friday. Schaus scored two goals in the two games in Charleston. The Komets are hoping the pair is still here for next weekend's games.