Any doubts about the value of defenseman Frankie DeAngelis have probably been wiped away. Since the Komets lone all-star, who is just in his second season, went down with a concussion Feb. 26, the team is just 3-4-1 and been outscored 33-19.
Dont be surprised, based partly on this evidence, if DeAngelis is voted by his teammates as the team MVP in the coming weeks.
DeAngelis is far less concerned about that than getting back into the lineup, though.
Management hopes to see DeAngelis return in the regular season – perhaps as soon as Wednesday – but DeAngelis is much more skeptical.
Im going to take it day by day, said DeAngelis, who has done only light skating this week. I dont want to set a date and rush into something. If the doctor tells me Im OK, and Im ready, then Ill go from there.
DeAngelis suffered the injury when he was elbowed by Evansvilles Jeff Christian, a play that drew a major penalty but not a suspension from the CHL.
DeAngelis, 26, has endured headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and sensitivity to light because of the concussion, the first of his career.
Its not fun, he said. All you can really do is sit down, relax. You cant do your normal activities or even work out, and you lose so much in a week, said DeAngelis, who has 11 goals, 41 points and a plus-9 rating in 51 games.
He is a finalist for the CHLs Most Outstanding Defenseman award.
Losing DeAngelis has affected the Komets ability to break the puck out of their zone and score on the power play, where he has tallied five goals and 19 assists. His absence has put a lot of pressure on Michael Ratchuk, Guy Dupuis, Brandon Warner and Bobby Phillips to pick up the slack.
The Komets (28-25-6) are coming off a 5-4 victory Wednesday night over the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs (34-25-3) – Dupuis netted the power-play game-winner with 1:12 remaining – and the teams meet again tonight at Memorial Coliseum.
That was a huge game for us, a great character builder, Dupuis said, after his team squandered a two-goal lead in the third period. We were up by two. They came back, and it was tied at 4. Sometimes, though not all the time, it seems like this year that when teams come back, we dont play as well. As soon as they tied it up, we stepped it up a notch and played really well the last eight minutes.
All the while, DeAngelis was watching from the stands or the press box.
One of the hardest things about being out is not being able to contribute, DeAngelis said.
All I can do is get healthy. But its been a learning experience. Seeing the game from another point of view, hopefully I can use it when I get back out there.