The shortest press conference in Komets coach Greg Puhalski's 12-year coaching career lasted about two minutes Sunday night, or about 360 minutes shorter than Sunday's 4-1 loss to Kalamazoo seemed to last.
``We didn't play well at all,'' he said.
Any ideas why?
How about the whole weekend?
``The past two games we generally made good decisions,'' he said before starting into Puhalski-ese. ``Tonight we got out-worked, we got out-thought, we got out-forwarded, out defensed, out-goaltended. In all areas we didn't do the things we need to do.''
Any idea why you guys are struggling?
The Komets are creating lots of trouble for themselves. They are still 7-3 over their last 10 games, but the way they are playing, several little wrong things are adding up to big problems.
They have a horrible habit of playing to the level of their opponent. For the last two-thirds of the season that's been OK because they've usually found ways to win. They had to come back and beat last-place Missouri on Friday and needed a shootout to beat a Richmond team that is only average on the road on Saturday.
Then they got hit with an uppercut against a title contender on Sunday. They trailed 3-0 after the first period mostly because of some shaky goaltending. Kevin St. Pierre struggled mightily, while Kalamazoo's Joel Martin made some marvelous saves. Twice Wings scored from the goal-line by bouncing the puck off St. Pierre and into the net.
Even when St. Pierre settled down, the Komets needed to turn up the energy and intensity in the second period, but there was little spark, leading to Puhalski's description. The Wings were beating them to the pucks, out-battling them in the corners and generally looking like the more aggressive, disciplined team.
They are symptoms of a larger epidemic. Before the first period on Sunday, the Komets had out-shot their opponents in 11 consecutive periods, and they even ended up out-shooting the Wings 35-30. Over those last five games, that adds up to a total of 226 shots for the Komets against 110 for their opponents, but the total score is 17 goals against and only 11 for. Fort Wayne is 2-3 over that span.
Don't blame all that on the defensemen. Over their last 10 games heading into Sunday, Ryan Jorde was plus-12, Troy Neumeier was plus-9, Mark Lindsay was plus-5, Guy Dupuis plus-4 and Rob Guinn and A.J. Bozoian were plus-2.
That usually means a few things, like the goaltending is slumping, the forwards are sneaking out offensively and the penalty kill is in trouble. St. Pierre will bounce back, but some periods the Komets' forwards hit and try to set the tempo, and some they do figure eights.
The bigger problem right now is the penalty kill. The Komets have given up at least one power-play goal in 14 of their last 18 games, and 22 power-play goals total over that span. They are at 75 percent effectiveness on the penalty kill over their last nine games. That's awful.
The Komets caught a big break on Sunday because Quad City lost 1-0 at home to Muskegon and Motor City didn't play so Fort Wayne held onto second place in the Western Division and sixth place overall in the United Hockey League's playoff standings.
They have to shake off this early spring flu or they'll slide in the standings pretty quickly. There are 15 games remaining in the regular season, including nine on the road.
Like their coach, none of the players cared to talk much after Sunday's game. They knew this week's practices were going to seem a lot longer than they actually are because their coach has plenty to comment on.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. E-mail Blake Sebring at firstname.lastname@example.org