TOLEDO, Ohio – The Komets need to do two things if they want to win tonight: Stay out of the penalty box and get traffic in front of Toledo Walleye goaltender Jeff Lerg.
“I’m not happy,” coach Gary Graham said, succinctly, when asked about the penalties.
Toledo was 2 for 5 on power plays in the opener. Fort Wayne was 0 for 2.
As for the traffic, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why this is important. Lerg has proved himself for years of being one of the ECHL’s best goalies, so you’re probably not going to beat him with a straightforward shot. But he’s only 5-foot-6 and you can make life difficult for him by making it hard for him to see.
Also, he has a tendency to give up some rebounds.
“We’ve just to be grittier around the net-front,” Graham said, after the 2-1 loss at the Huntington Center on Friday night. “We had some chances around the net that we’ve got to score on. We’ve got to find a way to get those rebounds. We were right around them and we’ve just got to find a way to score more than one goal, obviously.”
I don’t know yet what lineup changes might be in store, but I would have to think Mason Baptista is a guy that maybe gets put in. He’s gritty around the net. And Garrett Thompson stepping up would help, too.
While I’ve seen some write that the Komets must win tonight, I just don’t see it that way. The Komets have to win here once, it doesn’t matter when. And Fort Wayne was the better team in Game 1, 5-on-5, so if it continues that tonight, it will put pressure on Toledo to play mistake-free hockey and that’s generally a good thing.
I saw on some social media that people were discussing if putting in Garrett Bartus would somehow help. I can’t fathom that question. I honestly struggle to think of a single goal in the playoffs that I put on Pat Nagle. I still think Bartus will have a part to play, but until Nagle fouls things up, I don’t envision the hook.