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Komets

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First round
Advantages
BREAKDOWN
KEY MATCHUP
OTHER SHOWDOWNS TO WATCH
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Komets defenseman Frankie DeAngelis will play a pivotal role in Fort Wayne’s first-round playoff series against Rapid City.

Komets vs. Rapid City

First round Best of 7

Today: at Rapid City, 9:05 p.m.

Saturday: at Rapid City, 9:05 p.m.

Wednesday: vs. Rapid City, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday: vs. Rapid City, 7:30 p.m.

April 8: vs. Rapid City, 6 p.m.*

April 10: at Rapid City, 8:35 p.m.*

April 12: vs. Rapid City, 7:30 p.m.*

* If necessary

Advantages

Forwards Defensemen Goalies Coaching Special teams

BREAKDOWN

Offense

Fort Wayne: 3.45 goals per game, 3rd in CHL

Rapid City: 3.42 goals per game, 4th in CHL

Defense

Fort Wayne: 2.83 goals against per game, 5th in CHL

Rapid City: 2.67 goals against per game, 3rd in CHL

Power play

Fort Wayne: 19.7 percent, 2nd in CHL

Rapid City: 17.7 percent, 7th in CHL

Penalty kill

Fort Wayne: 84.2 percent, 3rd in CHL

Rapid City: 86.1 percent, 1st in CHL

Penalty minutes

Fort Wayne: 19.27 minutes per game, 4th most

Rapid City: 17.3 minutes per game, 5th most

KEY MATCHUP

Komets defenseman Frankie DeAngelis vs. Rapid City defenseman Riley Weselowski

Weselowski was selected as the CHL’s best defenseman this season, after a vote among coaches, reporters and various teams’ staff members. DeAngelis was the runner-up, and they both made the all-league team.

Both are fantastic offensively. DeAngelis had 18 goals and 46 points in 66 games. Weselowski had nine goals and 42 points in 66 games.

Both are solid in their own zones. Weselowski was plus-23. DeAngelis was plus-12.

Neither is formidable physically – Weselowski is 6 feet, 190 pounds, and DeAngelis is 5-foot-10, 185 pounds – and their success comes through proper positioning and reading opposing players.

Weselowski certainly had more pressure on him during the regular season, because he didn’t have other huge point-producers on the blue line and his forwards don’t always defend in their own zone. Plus, only 10 of his points came on power plays, while DeAngelis got 20 of his points with the man-advantage.

But in this series, DeAngelis may have a bigger part to play. Physical stay-at-home defenseman Brent Henley, who was co-winner of the Komets’ best defenseman award, is suspended for the first two games of the series, and T.J. Miller and Dustin Molle are out with injuries. And the Komets’ Achilles’ heel this season has been their inability to break the puck out of their own zone without turning it over. The easy fix is to keep the puck with DeAngelis and Jamie Milam and let them make smart plays bringing it out.

Whomever better helps his team at both ends of the ice – DeAngelis or Weselowski – is most likely to still be playing in the conference finals.

OTHER SHOWDOWNS TO WATCH

Colin Chaulk vs. Konrad Reeder

Chaulk is riding a nine-game point streak, during which he’s totaled 17 points. But he needs to be just as good defensively, where he’ll have to help shut down Reeder, who had 37 goals, third most in the league. In last year’s playoffs, Reeder had three goals and nine points in the five-game victory over the Komets.

Brett Smith vs. Les Reaney

Smith captained Bossier-Shreveport to the Cup last season, totaling 17 points in 21 playoff games. Reaney is a terrific postseason player with 18 goals and 46 points in 32 career games. Smith is going to have to buckle down on Reaney while also finding the back of the net himself.

PREDICTION: Komets in six

jcohn@jg.net

– Justin A. Cohn, The Journal Gazette

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