With Game 3 of the Turner Conference semifinals tonight -- the series between the Komets and Rapid City Rush is tied at 1 -- here are some things to watch:
- Home-ice advantage: The Komets need to take advantage of three straight games at Memorial Coliseum. Unfortunately for them, they have a history of playing tight at home. That's especially -- strangely -- true if there isn't a huge crowd. With these games on weekdays and Easter Sunday, and going against the TinCaps' opener, I don't foresee enormous crowds. The Komets must come out hard and get early leads.
- Power plays: The Rush is deadly on power plays. But it always seems to score from the same spots, down low, with cross-slot passes. The Komets must defend those better.
- Brent Henley: The Komets' best defenseman -- apologies to Frankie DeAngelis -- is coming back tonight. Click here to read today's story about that. This will even the physical play more, but only if Henley doesn't get trapped into bad penalties.
- Jamie Lovell: Aside from goaltender Nick Boucher, Lovell was the Komets' best player in the 3-1 victory in Game 2. He's had tumultuous season on the ice, but he was always a good playoff performer with Port Huron and if he can turn in more performances like Game 2, it will solidify the Komets' weakest area -- in the zone.
- Jesse Schultz: The Rush forward has been the single biggest factor in the series. He has five points, but he was also stopped on a penalty shot in Game 2.
- Line matching: The Komets weren't always getting the players they wanted on the ice in the first two games. At home, they will get the last line change. With two great faceoff men in Colin Chaulk and Brett Smith, this will be a huge factor now.
- Officiating: Let's face it, the officiating was horrid in the first two games, whether it was missed calls on hits from behind or controversial game-winning goals. I'm assuming we won't have Zak Blazic as the referee tonight, so it will likely get better. However, commissioner Duane Lewis was at the first two games and has likely given some directives to the referees about the ways the games have been played. That could mean they will really be buckling down on things. I'd rather see the boys play, but it wouldn't shock me to see one of those 16 power play type of games.
- Remember, you can follow me on Twitter during the games @jgkomets. Also you should be following @jgbensmith. He'll be at the game tonight, too.