Leaving extra space from the person traveling in front of you during the winter applies to cars, not hockey players.
The Fort Wayne Komets' lack of team defense made sure it wasn't a very happy new year for 10,103 Memorial Coliseum fans as Toledo won 9-4. It's the Komets' worst loss of the season and the most goals allowed since they lost 9-3 to Flint on Dec. 28, 2007.
The biggest problem among many was the lack of forwards coming back defensively. The Walleye continually rushed the puck into the Fort Wayne zone and then passed back to wide-open trailers for slap shots from the slot. The defensemen were usually where they were supposed to be, but the forwards often got caught watching the puck instead of the man they were supposed to pick up.
``We missed some coverages in our zone,'' Komets coach Al Sims said. ``We need a practice. We haven't had a practive with all the games here in the last little bit, but we get a chance to practice... and then a game and we'll have another practice on Thursday, and that's going to help us. We all need a little refresher.''
Even on the two Toledo power-play goals, the Fort Wayne forwards gave the Walleye point men too much room to blast away.
Sims pulled goaltender Kenny Reiter halfway through the second period after he gave up four goals on 24 shots, but Charlie Effinger gave up five on 19 shots as the Komets lost on New Year's Eve for the first time in 10 years.
The Walleye are now 4-0 in Fort Wayne this season, while the Komets are 2-0 in Toledo.
The other huge problem for the Komets is their continued inability to stay out of the penalty box. The score was tied 2-2 going into the second period, but the Komets gave the Walleye four power plays during the next 20 minutes.
Toledo finished with two power-play goals in six chances, while the Komets were held scoreless in three. Most of the calls were taken by forwards who were nowhere near their defensive zone at the time. The Komets are averaging almost two fewer power-play chances per game than their opponents.
``I think you can expect a better game on Wednesday from us,'' Sims said. ``Certainly not nine goals against.''
That's when the Komets will host South Division leader Gwinnett, another fast team that gives them defensive coverage problems.
``I think we'll react well,'' center J.M. Rizk said. ``It's a wake-up call for us to make sure we come out ready to play, no matter what night it is or how tired you are or how many games you have played. You have to show up and play or else you're going to have a tough time of it.''
The loss also stopped the Komets from building their second three-game winning streak of the season.
``I think we'll react all right,'' Komets assistant captain Kaleigh Schrock said. ``We'll have a day... to practice and work on some things. We haven't had a practice for a while. The good thing is we finally won two games. We had a setback tonight, but now we've got a chance to build on off those last two games and put this one behind us.''