Lately, the Komets have depended a lot on Hughes, who has scored five goals in his last three games since coming off injured reserve. He's centering Mickey Lang and Mike Vaskivuo and also cleaning up their rebounds. He's been feeding them from the defensive zone, allowing them to use their speed in attacking the offensive zone, and then following up for scoring chances.
"We're just driving the net and not getting too fancy,'' Hughes said. "It makes it easier because it allows me to use my mental aspect. I can sit back and read the play and make the adjustment. We're just getting our chemistry going. I like getting the puck up to them and letting them use their speed.''
Most of his goals come within 10 feet of the net, usually because he's the trailer someone forgot to cover. That may sound like an easy thing to do, but it requires patience and game savvy to anticipate where the opening in the defense will be.
"He's just a smart player,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said. "He's a read-and-react type of player. He lets the play evolve in front of him and. He's usually the best when he's the third guy in on the forecheck because he can read off what the first and the second guy do.''
Hughes missed several games when he suffered nerve damage after getting hit in the foot with a shot. While the crushed nerves healed, the Komets were lacking a second top-tier center, and they struggled to win faceoffs and get consistent defensive help down the middle.
In two games last weekend, Hughes, Vaskivuo and Lang combined for six goals.
"The biggest thing he's doing is winning big faceoffs, which is allowing us to get the puck and create O-zone pressure,'' Vaskivuo said. "He just makes our night a lot easier. We know where he is, he's very vocal and he keeps us calm. I think we all bring something and it's clicking.''
OnlineFor 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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Faceoff: 8 p.m. Friday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM