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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Gabriel Desjardins, left, and the Wings' Kyle Bushee fight for the puck during the second period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 11:40 pm

K's coach: Older players must step up

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

This isn't the first time this has happened, but coach Gary Graham threw the Komets' losing streak at the feet of the older players by saying:  “This group is not willing to shoot the puck at critical times and turns the puck over at critical times, and turns the puck over a lot. In the first two periods, there were a lot of turnovers. The thing is, it’s the older guys, key guys, guys who should know better. Collectively, right now, with three straight losses, we need to see the older guys start buying in and leading by example and it goes for everybody on down.”

I can sum up this game pretty succinctly for you: Terrible start, almost as bad second period, good third period that's way too late, awful penalty for too many men in overtime, and a loss. (Video from the game is above and, well, the Justin Hodgman goal is the thing most worth seeing.)

With eight games left in the regular season, I don't see any way the Komets finish outside of the second seed in the division. They are eight points back of Toledo, which has six games left, and they are 16 points up on third-place Cincinnati.

But Cincinnati won't be a good match-up for the Komets and second-round match-ups Toledo and Kalamazoo are even more frightening, so the Komets have to get back on track and quick.

If it starts with the older players, the problem is that Graham has been making these sorts of complaints all season long and they haven't gotten the message. The only thing left to do is start benching players, but they literally have no one they can put in. They have eight players injured and the closest to returning looks to be Cody Sol next week. 

The Komets lost 5 of 6 games to the Wings in the regular-season series that is now over.

“They’ve won more battles and sacrificed more against us,” Graham said. “I can look at all the games they’ve won against us this year and they have won more one-on-one battles and they have won more races, and that’s what the game’s about.”

The good news is this: Everyone seems to believe the Komets have enough talent for playoff success, injuries or not. 

"We've got the guys right now to win, that's all that needs to be said," Graham said.

jcohn@jg.net