Mathieu Curadeau has a lot more help than he did a few weeks ago. Recently acquired forwards Colin Chaulk, Artem Podshendyalov and Danny Lapointe all add to the Komets scoring depth.
But Curadeau, a center, isnt changing his mentality. He wants to score and lead the Komets to another championship.
I still have my role and my job to do, Curadeau said. Those guys are obviously huge acquisitions for the team and will help us a lot. But for me, things dont change. I have to play better and go hard every night.
Curadeau came into this season as the Komets No. 1 center, based on his past success with the team – 68 goals and 124 points in 122 games between 2007 and 2009 – and the 23 goals and 47 points he had last season with Kalamazoo of the ECHL.
But, as Komets coach Al Sims said, He thought the weight of the world was on his shoulders, and he didnt have it going.
The Komets quickly sank to the Central Hockey League cellar, losing 16 of their first 21 games, as Curadeau tallied only four goals and 10 points. Since then, his scoring production has improved some – he has two goals and five points in nine games – and there has been improvement in his number of scoring chances.
And the Komets overall play has improved. Theyre on a 4-1-3 surge heading into tonights game against Evansville at Memorial Coliseum.
At the beginning of the season, I know, we could have played better, said Curadeau, 25. We could have been more aggressive and gone more to the net. Every guy here had a great season last season, and everybody expected us to be really, really good, so maybe we took that for granted. But now everybodys working hard and were back on the right track.
Curadeau, who prides himself on his play at both ends of the ice, is minus-13 for the season. Over the last nine games, hes plus-1.
Yeah, Ive been playing better, a little bit, Curadeau said. Obviously, Im not scoring every game, but my game has been better, Ive been playing more aggressive and better defensively. I have a little (undisclosed) injury thats keeping me from being 100 percent, but Im getting there and hopefully I will be 100 percent soon.
Despite moving up in the standings – Fort Wayne is three points back of Evansville for eighth place in the Turner Conference – the Komets offense still needs to improve. They rank 18th with 2.37 goals per game and are coming off Sundays 1-0 overtime loss to Quad City. With more help around him, and signs that his play is improving, Curadeau is expected to help lead the charge.
Hes just got to stay at it and work hard, get his offensive game going because its not there yet, Sims said. Hes got to pick it up. He needs to shoot the puck. Matt is at his most dangerous when hes skating and shooting.