Komets coach Al Sims has tried being positive and then yelling, being consistent with his lines and then changing them up. Now it's probably time to make roster changes, possibly even drastic ones.
After losing all three games over the weekend, the Komets are 2-6-1 and off to their worst start since 1994 when they were 0-8-1. The problems are at the end of the ice they never thought would be a problem when they put the team together this summer as they are scoring a Central Hockey League-low 1.44 goals per game.
``I don't have the answer right now how we're going to get more goals,'' Komets general manager David Franke said. ``It's something we're going to have a lot of intense discussions about this week amongst ourselves.''
Leo Thomas, P.C. Drouin, Derek Patrosso, Brandon Naurato, Kaleigh Schrock, Sean O'Connor and Mathieu Curadeau all scored more than 20 goals last season, and Guy Dupuis scored 14. They combined for 183 last season, but so far have combined for 11 and are on pace for 81.
Over the last two losses, they basically got beat by their opponents' third line scoring key goals. That's what happens when your own first and second units aren't scoring, giving the third liners the chance to make the difference. They've also given up a lot of freak goals, such as the one Friday night against Evansville when the puck hit a skate and deflected up off defenseman Frankie DeAngelis's facemask and into the goal. Those are also magnified when you're not scoring as you should at the other end.
The Komets rank fourth in the CHL with 34.5 shots on goal per game, but opposing goaltenders have a .958 save percentage against them. That usually means no one is getting in front to distract the goaltender or battle for rebounds. No one is consistently payng the price to score.
``Adversity usually brings out the best in people,'' Sims said. ``We have a lot of players who haven't been through this, and everybody has to has to find a way out of this. There's no magic potion. We need to score goals, and until we start scoring goals, things aren't going to change. We're going to make changes. We can't continue with the same group if they are not going to get it done."
There's no way to pinpoint one problem that needs fixed. Are they too old? This lineup is significantly younger than last year, and the two oldest players -- Dupuis and Drouin -- were the leading scorers heading into this weekend. Are they too slow? The fastest forwards on the team -- O'Connor, Schrock, Chris Francis and Curadeau -- have two goals.
Are the systems wrong? They've already changed them up once.
They don't even have a slew of injuries to blame because they've been almost perfectly healthy.
One of the problems now is the Komets may need to get rid of proven scorers who are struggling to bring in rookies who have potential but are unproven. Big defenseman Steven Delisle starts practice today after getting sent down from Springfield of the American Hockey League, and rookie forward Neil Musselwhite is expected to play Friday against Arizona.
To make roster room, it's likely two players will have to leave.
Besides getting someone in front of the net, there seem to be two major problems.
Everyone seems to be working as individuals instead of as teammates. Most skaters want to carry the puck up the ice but they rarely give it up on the rush so everyone else has to slow down and watch them. About a dozen times Saturday night against Missouri, the Komets put themselves offsides by trying to make a move to get around a defender instead of passing to a teammate. When they did get into the offensive zone, they'd fire almost as soon as they crossed the blue line with no one in front and no chance at a rebound.
There's also an obvious opportunity for individual leadership. There are plenty of leaders in the locker room, but somebody has to step up and lead on the ice, filling the role Colin Chaulk had last year. Chaulk could be bull-headed, but he made sure everyone did what he wanted them to, what they were supposed to do. Plenty of players talked during the preseason about wanting the chance for leadership this year. Somebody has to be aggressive and take that role.
Mostly, they simply have to score.
``We've got to quit wasting great goaltending efforts and put the pucks in the net,'' Franke said. ``We'll just have to figure it out. We've got a lot of hard work to do this week."