I wrote on Thursday that it was too soon to panic.
I was wrong.
The Komets' 6-2 loss to the Wheeling Nailers tonight was nothing short of hideous.
"That was a clinic. That was the worst game by us, by far," said coach Gary Graham, whose Komets went up 2-1 on forward John Dunbar's goal from the right circle 6:43 into the second period but then gave up a goal to forward Jack MacLellan just 15 seconds later.
"(Letting down) is a big time identity thing by us. I'm not sure what it is. You've got to put your finger on it. But we've got to get it figured out in a hurry here."
The Nailers went up 3-2 on forward Carter Rowney's goal off a rebound at 11:30 of the second period, and he scored the same way 15 seconds later.
Wheeling (3-3-1) put the game out of reach at 1:29 of the third period, when a tic-tac-toe passing play that began at the blue line ended with forward Christian Minella slipping the puck past sprawled goalie Andrey Makarov.
Rowney polished off his hat trick at 16:43 for a 6-2 lead.
"It's very frustrating. You put the work in and prep the guys, do everything you need to do. Hat's off to Wheeling. They out-battled us and it was men against boys out there," Graham said.
I can tell you there was a meeting between Graham and the Komets' leaders -- captain Nick Tuzzolino and alternates Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Brandon Marino -- after the game.
Also, Graham stressed to reporters that players' jobs are in danger after the Komets fell to 2-4-2 despite holding a lead in all but one game.
At Memorial Coliseum, the Komets are 0-1-2.
"Everybody is playing for their jobs," Graham said. "That's what it is right now. These guys have got to figure that out sooner rather than later because we're not going to be (a team) where we get out-battled and out-competed. That's not something we're going to let happen."
The penchant for letting down after good plays, like Dunbar's goal tonight, is one thing. But there are way too many guys who are invisible for long stretches. And I'm surprised how much the Komets' offense is from the perimeter. It seems like even when the Komets have it inside, they take it back outside. No one is going to the hard areas.
The Komets totally hung goaltender Andrey Makarov out to dry and he stopped 26 shots.
"That's the only game that we've really been outworked in," said Schrock, whose Komets play Saturday at division-leading Cincinnati (7-0-0).
"Before, I think we were outworking teams and putting ourselves in a position to win, but then just making the little mistake that cost us. Tonight was different. We got outworked in every aspect of the game. When you do that at this level, especially the way we're playing right now, you're going to get smoked. And that's what happened."