FORT WAYNE – It feels familiar to Colin Chaulk, the way he and his linemates are clicking.
They seem to always know where each other are on the ice, are difficult to keep off the scoresheets and they’re skating with confidence.
Chaulk likened it to 2005, when he was on a line with Jonathan Goodwin and Sean Venedam, and to 2010, when he played alongside Matt Syroczynski and Konstanstin Shafranov.
That should be a good omen for Komets fans, because 2005 ended with a trip to the playoff finals and 2010 with a championship.
“We’ve just clicked,” Chaulk said of his line, which includes Mike Vaskivuo and Chris Auger. “It’s so hard at this level to do things on your own – at any level, in fact, or with any team sport – and it really makes it great when you have three guys working together like we have been.”
Chaulk’s numbers had been down this season, but heading into the best-of-seven Turner Conference semifinals that open Friday in Rapid City, S.D., he’s on a nine-game point-scoring streak during which he’s totaled 17 points.
In the six games since Vaskivuo was waived by Rapid City and picked up by the Komets, Chaulk’s line has totaled 11 goals and 31 points.
Vaskivuo replaced Artem Podshendyalov, who returned to Russia, and not having to cover for Podshendyalov defensively has freed up Chaulk in the offensive end.
“I hadn’t been able to get in a groove this year,” Chaulk said. “I had changed my routine and tried changing my game, just doing little subtle things. And it’s funny because right before Vaskivuo came in (March 15), I said, ‘Ah, just forget it. I’m just going to play my game and go back to what’s made me successful at this level my whole career.’ And with Vask coming in, and Auger, we’ve just clicked.”
Chaulk, the 35-year-old Komets’ captain, finished the regular season with 22 goals and 61 points in 60 games. And he went plus-6 over the last 22 games after he was only plus-2 through the first 38.
“Colin’s had a great shot for years. He knows how to hit the top corners,” Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said.
The Komets (40-19-7) are the top-seeded team in the conference.
They won 4 of 5 games against the fourth-seeded Rush (38-22-6), but Rapid City was decimated by injuries early in the season and hasn’t played Fort Wayne since Dec. 3.
The teams met in the best-of-five conference semifinals last year, and the Rush won in five games.
The Komets have seven players left from that heated series, including Dustin Molle, who is out for the playoffs with a groin injury, while the Rush has nine.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Rapid City,” Chaulk said. “They’ve got a great team, a lot of talent, but so do we. The war’s on.”